***image1***The coming of spring is right around the corner. Soon families will take to the roads of Europe to enjoy spring break and, unfortunately, some may not make it back.
According to United States Air Forces in Europe safety officials, spring break is traditionally a period of increased risk. The safety office is working to get the word out so everyone makes it home from their hard-earned vacations.
Enter Project SMART.
Short for Smartly Managing Awareness, Risk and Threats, the program objective is to promote the safety culture with a focus on personal risk management.
“With spring break on the horizon, many families will be planning vacations or extended weekend excursions,” said Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander. “It’s really important that they all come back safely – every active duty and civilian member and their families are part of our USAFE team.”
Before members depart on their spring break adventures, commanders should meet with their troops and emphasize the use of risk management in all activities, especially since motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death and lost duty time, the general added.
During the last four years, eight USAFE members have lost their lives in preventable vehicle mishaps. An additional 150 were injured in preventable mishaps while engaged in on- and off-duty activities.
“Preventable injuries undermine our mission readiness,” said General Foglesong. “More importantly, they take a toll on loved ones, friends and coworkers of members involved. As commanders and supervisors, the responsibility is squarely on our shoulders to do all we can to reduce mishaps.”
The April Project SMART theme is “Ride SMART” – targeted for motorcycle riders, however, the messages apply to everyone.
“No one is immune to vehicle mishaps regardless of the number of wheels under them,” said Col. Scott Adams, USAFE safety director. “Driving is an activity where you can be doing everything right and still be involved in a mishap.”
According to Colonel Adams, commanders and supervisors must remind vehicle operators of two essentials:
Don’t increase the risk by driving while fatigued or going too fast for conditions;
Motorcyclists must always wear the right gear.
“Supervisors should ensure each member has a smart vacation plan and review it with them,” the colonel explained. “People should perform a vehicle inspection before they depart using the checklist on the safety directorate Website under Ground Safety privately owned vehicle inspection checklist at https://wwwmil.usafe.af.mil/direct/se/SEG/Doc16.doc. If your subordinate’s vehicle is high risk or the member is young or inexperienced, help them through the inspection.”
The bottom line for the command is to have everyone safely home after the break.
“We need every member to return safely after enjoying spring break, ready to meet the needs of our nation,” said General Foglesong. “Be smart about how you take on your spring break activities and enjoy the spring season.”