Developing traffic safety.
The Naval Safety Center has begun to place more emphasis on traffic safety to comply with the Secretary of Defense's mandate to reduce mishaps by 50% in the next two years. On the Safety Center's web site, http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/ashore/motorvehicle/default.htm there is a wide range of resources all commands can use to promote traffic safety. In particular, the Traffic Safety Toolbox for commanders, supervisors, and non-commissioned officers provides a multitude of valuable resources that will enhance your traffic safety program year round.
With all that in mind, here is a quick run down on some of the causalities that have occurred in the submarine force:
In July 2003, a 22-year-old SN of a Kings Bay, Georgia SSBN, was driving on Interstate 95, lost control of his vehicle, left the road, and skidded into several large trees. After they cut him out of the remains of his car they took him to the hospital. The result was a substantial brain injury with paralysis, which required his normal breathing functions to be assisted by a ventilator. He was later transferred to a facility for long-term ventilator patients.
In August 2003, a 20-year-old PO3 of a Kings Bay, Georgia SSBN struck a car while riding his motorcycle. The car pulled out in front of him unexpectedly. He hit the front passenger side of the car and was thrown from the motorcycle. The PO3 sustained a broken femur (two places, right leg) and minor abrasions. He was wearing a helmet, boots, long sleeve shirt, and goggles. By wearing the proper PPE the extent of his injuries were probably reduced.
In October 2003, an SR on a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii SSN lost control of his motorcycle while riding over loose material on the road. He was wearing all required safety equipment and had recently graduated from the Navy Motorcycle Safety course. He received only minor abrasions and a broken wrist from the mishap. Also in October 2003, a 23-year-old PO3 of a SSN stationed in Bremerton, Washington traveling approximately 25 mph saw a deer in the road, swerved off the road and slid down a 15-foot embankment. He suffered three fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. He was wearing a seat belt.
In November 2003, 28-year-old ensign of a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii SSN ran over a reflective lane division marker and lost control of his motorcycle. He fell from his motorcycle and came to a stop about 15 feet behind his motorcycle. He received a fractured scapula and minor scrapes. He was wearing all of the required motorcycle safety equipment. He had no disability or lost days. Just like the previous two motorcycle mishaps, using the required PPE reduced the possibility of receiving more serious injuries.
Finally, in November 2003, a 26-year-old CPO of a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii SSN was riding his motorcycle at 0300 on a dark and rainy night and lost control while exiting a highway off ramp. The CPO stated that he had a couple of drinks during the evening at a local bar and was not fatigued. He received a six-inch laceration on his lower back, requiring 14 stitches, and multiple abrasions. He lost two days of work due to the crash. He was lucky. He had only one year of motorcycle riding experience, the off ramp was dark, and the road conditions were wet and slippery. The mishap message did not state what PPE was utilized, but I think you can gather from the previous motorcycle crashes, the correct PPE can save you life, if not a lot of skin.
Command involvement with traffic safety at all levels will help in reducing the current mishap rate and save lives, money, and unexpected losses of personnel.