Tenth Air Force's Critical Days of Summer: Strive for zero motor vehicle accidents in August
By Brig. Gen. William Binger, 10th Air Force commander
/ Published July 11, 2012
NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- As we finish the 101 Critical Days of Summer, I'd like to ask that each one of us use just a little bit more caution than we normally do from August to mid-September in the final days of the CDOS.
Last year during this period, we experienced eight ground mishaps across the numbered Air Force, a 60 percent increase over the normal rate - four involved a motor vehicle with a driver 39-46 years old; one resulted in coma/multiple injuries/amputations while another was fatal. We just can't have that this year. This year, let's have zero accidents involving motor vehicles.
In the four 2011 mishaps involving motor vehicles, all involved distracted driving. Interestingly, none of the 10th Air Force personnel were distracted - all were hit by a distracted driver. Additionally, no 10th AF personnel were legally at fault.
"Well, there's no way to prevent those kinds of accidents from happening" some might say.
Actually, there is: maneuver your motor vehicle and your body in a manner that does not allow others to hit you - create miss-distance. By putting more distance between you and things that can hit you, you increase the time allowed to avoid a mishap. It's that simple.
Scenario: You're in the car and the light turns green. Do you just go through the intersection because you have the "right-of-way" or do you look both ways before going into the intersection because distracted drivers (who are busy texting, jabbering with their friends, changing the radio station, etc.) don't really care whether or not you have the "right-of-way"? If they hit you...yes, they are legally at fault. But, if you're in the hospital with non-recoverable injuries, does it really matter whether you had the "right-of-way?"
There is only one way to nearly assure that others don't hit you: maneuver your motor vehicle and your body in a manner that does not allow others to hit you - create miss-distance. If you elect not to drive through the intersection when the light is green because you see a car that looks like they are not going to stop, then you make it almost impossible for them to hit you. You've created miss-distance. When they go through that red light without you in the intersection, you have maneuvered your motor vehicle and your body in a manner that did not allow others to hit you. You created miss-distance.
Creating miss-distance can be applied throughout all phases of getting from point A to point B, not just when trying to avoid a distracted driver that barrels through a red light. Think about it...just a little. It will make a difference.
During 2012's 101 CDOS, 10th AF had a great first month in avoiding ground mishaps; unfortunately, the rest of the Air Force had six motor-vehicle fatalities. A few weeks ago, our luck ran out: One of our 10th AF Airmen was critically injured in a motor-vehicle accident.
We can prevent motor-vehicle accidents. We can prevent our families, friends and co-workers from being in motor vehicle accidents. We can prevent, pain, tragedy and heartache.
We must understand that driving today is not the same as it was years ago. Just a few years ago, we had to actively avoid the inexperienced teenage driver. Today, we have to avoid the inexperienced teenage driver on his cell phone. And we also have to avoid the other drivers who are so busy tweeting that they are running red lights.
You may not be a distracted driver. None of our 10th AF Airmen involved in mishaps with motor vehicles was guilty of distraction--they were hit by distracted drivers.
I believe we can have zero motor vehicle mishaps during our Tenth Air Force CDOS if we maneuver our motor vehicles and our bodies in a manner that does not allow others to hit us.