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Five ways to prevent vehicle accidents

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Anita Feugate Opperman
  • 90th Missile Wing chief of safety
As I write this, the Mighty Ninety has gone more than 525 days without a government-owned vehicle rollover. This is a remarkable accomplishment which every member of the wing should be proud and proves leadership at all levels and safety together can prevent mishaps. However, the rules of the road for safe driving do not end when we get out of the GOV and into our personal vehicle. It is everyone's obligation, regardless of whether you are driving on base or off, on duty or off.

What is safe driving? It is many things, some of which most of us do almost instinctively. Wearing a seatbelt should be a no-brainer. Units across the base conducted seatbelt checks as part of the wing's Critical Days of Summer campaign. I was surprised to hear how many people are not wearing theirs. Not only should no one ever be in too much of a hurry to put on their seatbelt, but it goes against Air Force Global Strike Command's policy of maintaining safety in all things large and small.

Don't drive distracted -- that's texting or talking on a cell phone. Air Force and Cheyenne rules prohibit driving and talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device. Best bet is if it's hands-free or not, don't talk on your cell while driving. It is just too much of a distraction. I can barely text and walk, so I can't even imagine texting while driving.

School is back in session and the antelope rut is about to start. Those two events are not connected, but they do mean there is more activity on the streets. Be cautious driving around base, you never know when an antelope will dart out in front of your car. She may very well be followed by a buck looking for some love and companionship. In the words of my ground safety section "Don't swerve to miss antelope, do swerve to miss kids!"

Safe driving and drinking do not mix. Any time your day involves driving and then drinking, make sure you have a plan. A designated driver probably comes to mind first, but there are other options as well. If you are at a house, spend the night, walk home, call a sober friend or take a taxi. We have Arrive Alive cards with all sorts of contact numbers. If you don't have one, stop by and pick some up for you and your wingmen. Whatever choice you make, don't choose to drive under the influence.

Finally, and this should really go without saying, obey the rules of the road. Drive the speed limit or slower if the weather dictates. It is much better to show up late than not at all. Signal your intentions to change lanes and make sure it is safe to do so. Don't speed up to beat a red light. Also, keep in mind that even though you may be adhering to all of the tenets of driving safely, others may not, so be alert when you drive.

Let's face it, driving, both on and off duty, is inherently the most dangerous part of our lives. Driving safely is not optional -- it is everybody's responsibility. There is nothing important enough to justify ignoring the rules of safe driving.