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Better Weather, Greater Hazard

  • Published
  • By Col. John Gordy
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Vice Commander
If you haven't noticed already, then let me be the first to remind you that spring has sprung ... especially here in North Carolina. There are more kids outside playing later in the evening and the motorcycles and watercraft are becoming more visible on the roads and lakes every day. I know a lot of you will be taking time in the next several weeks to enjoy the spring break season with your family, which for Cumberland County runs from April 10-19, and that may mean leaving the local area. Not surprisingly, everyone around you is going to take these same opportunities, and before you know it we will be right in the middle of the 101 Critical Days of Summer - a time when we are at our greatest risk of injury. As we approach this busy time of year, I want to use this opportunity to remind you of some important safety courses and requirements the Air Force has to ensure we all have an enjoyable and safe spring. 

As you all know, safety is a year-round responsibility. Not just on our highways or on our base, but in our homes and in every recreational activity we take part in. If you aren't aware of the Motorcycle Safety Courses we offer for free right here at Pope, you should definitely call the Wing Safety office and find out when the next available course is (or, better yet, keep your eye on the Carolina Flyer for class dates). There are courses for basic and experienced riders, so whether you are preparing to purchase a motorcycle or refreshing your skills as you get back on after a winter break, there is no excuse not to take advantage of this instruction. 

Other outdoor activities like mountain climbing, skydiving, all-terrain vehicle use and many others are also considered high-risk and involve you receiving a briefing and approval before you can take part in them. Use common sense. Alcohol, certain prescription medications, lack of sleep or being physically unfit does not mix well with high-risk activities. The Air Force has a very good Operational Risk Management program, but ORM works only if you use it. If you're not sure an activity you like to do falls in to the high-risk category or are unclear what ORM can do for you, contact your unit safety representative. 

But there is no doubt that driving is when we are at our greatest risk, strictly due to the number of factors and people you have no control over. Spring brings with it more long trips, increased city traffic and construction, and speeders. I don't know if there is a correlation between spring, summer and speeding but there is plenty of evidence that shows speeding and accidents increase as the temperatures rise. And there is very little reason to speed. A very interesting factoid presented in the Alive @ 25 course we offer here is about how much time you save going 75 MPH as compared to 70 MPH over the course of 10 miles, and while it's simple math if you sit down to do it, you may be surprised to find out it is less than a minute. And to bring it really close to home, let's apply it to driving on Fort Bragg and Pope. How much time do you think you are saving going 35 MPH on the base rather than 25 MPH for the 2 or 3 miles you may have to cover? As I said in my opening paragraph, there are lots of children out playing later in the evening along with runners and walkers and we need to follow posted speed limits all over base to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, for 2008, our Security Forces issued 312 speed tickets for violations of 8 MPH or more over the posted speed limit. So far this year they have issued 125, a path that would far exceed last year's number should the trend continue. There's no reason to be doing this, absolutely none, so let's all slow down. 

In closing, I'd like to thank everyone who has participated and donated to the Air Force Assistance Fund. We're very close to reaching our goal and Pope's premier AFAF fundraiser, the 24 Hour Endurance Relay, is now just six days away. It's going to be great to see all of you out at the Fitness Center as we strive to reach last year's mark of $15,000 raised. Thank you for what you and your families do every day. Have a great week, continue to focus on safety, and look for new opportunities to be Airmen with impact. And always know that your Individual Actions Matter!