Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the “101 Critical Days of Summer.” Statistically this period, which ends after Labor Day weekend, is a time of increased risk for mishaps and fatal injuries.
Each summer, U.S. Air Forces in Europe members are needlessly injured. In worst-case scenarios, family members and friends are left to mourn the death of a loved one.
During the 101 Critical Days of Summer last year, USAFE experienced one fatal mishap – an off-duty private motor vehicle accident. Although this was a significant decrease from previous summers, the loss of a single life is unacceptable. Such losses affect the community deeply and personally; family members and friends are forced to face the irrevocable end of an enriching and priceless relationship.
Vehicle mishaps are the leading cause of accidental deaths during this timeframe. The Air Force as a whole experienced 32 fatalities last summer. Of these, 24 involved private motor vehicles. Sadly, investigation and analysis of these events reveals a very tragic aspect – nearly all of them could have been prevented. Controls such as the driver getting the proper rest, reducing their driving speed and refraining from alcohol were either not considered or not applied.
No one is immune to mishaps or the distractions that often precede them. We are all susceptible whether on the job, at home or while traveling. As we enter the 101 Critical Days of Summer, I challenge you to bring your courage and apply appropriate Operational Risk Management to everything you do.
Every USAFE member is valuable, and by taking care of ourselves and our wingman, we can make this summer one that’s fun and safe.