Drinking and driving: don’t roll the dice

Jerry McDermott
435th Air Base Wing safety office

This past month the KMC has experienced multiple driving while intoxicated incidents. Fortunately, no one has lost his or her life.
The Air Force does a remarkable job providing for its members and provides a platform for success. Training and education are routinely made available, not only in our professions, but also for lifestyle and safety. Our part of the deal is to use that knowledge for success, growth and service. Sadly, not all take advantage of the opportunities provided and often find a more difficult road to follow that is sometimes filled with lost careers and even the loss of human life.  

In one second, your life can change forever. One bad decision can throw away all the opportunity provided to us. Often, I wonder what makes us “roll the dice,” or take unnecessary chances. I believe that we just don’t think it will happen to us. It does happen to those so willing to accept the risk; probably when they least expect it. Over the years I’m amazed at the risk that accomplished people take.

More dramatic, but real, several Airmen went to a party at a friend’s house; it was a great party with plenty of drink, great food and music – all were having a great time. In the wee hours of the morning the party broke up and no one had a plan. Two Airmen left the party to return to the base 12 miles away on a straight paved four lane highway that was lit and in good condition. Approximately a quarter mile from the front gate the operator lost control, left the road and crashed into a guard rail. Both Airmen were dead at the scene. The driver was well over the legal limit to be operating a vehicle. These were good Airmen whose lives ended in a second by making a bad decision. These events forever affected many people in a profound and devastating way.

How do you prevent this? Simply put, it’s a matter of discipline and being able to do the right thing even though no one is looking. People have different ways to remind themselves to do the right things, most of which they know to do. Almost all Air Force members have figured it out and have the discipline to manage their personal risk. Most have a plan, whether it be a taxi, designated driver or just not drinking. For others who don’t; consider that your bad decision affects more than just you and that your decision may last a life time.  

When I’m at crunch time and have to make a control decision about managing risk, I remind myself of what Coach K tells his players at Duke University. In his book “Leading by the Heart,” he states he has only one rule for his players, “Don’t do anything that will embarrass the university, team, self or family.” What a great rule. I would only add two words to his rule, “or devastate.” Your life and your successes are important to the Air Force, your team, your family and you. Have the discipline to make good decisions.