News: Fender bender safety
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR -- It's one of those mornings, and a driver is late to work again. The driver forgot to check his surroundings before backing out of a tight parking space. Wham! Accidents happen and sometimes there is no way around them.
Airmen from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Office and the 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, are teaming up to reduce the number of vehicle accidents.
There have been more than 200 vehicle accidents on base since July 2013 and according to the safety office and security forces, the number of accidents must be reduced.
"Safety remains engaged with base leadership and Airmen at every level to help reduce minor vehicle mishaps," said, Master Sgt. Mary Circe, 379th AEW ground safety manager and a Rochester, N.Y. native. "In addition to weekly trend analysis and a quarterly traffic working group, our office briefs vehicle mishap prevention at Right Start (an in-processing brief for all newcomers) and during unit safety representative orientations."
The safety office has labeled vehicle mishaps as 'high interest areas' to foster awareness and decrease accidents, Circe said. Reducing the number of vehicle accidents will help reduce the associated repair costs, she added.
"As the Department of Defense's budget continues to decrease, the amount of discretionary funds available to our base will become scarcer," Circe said. "For every vehicle damaged, the base must divert resources to fix or repair the damage."
Security forces airmen have implemented a new system to track the number of vehicle accidents, their locations, type of accident and turn that information into an accident trend analysis.
Tech. Sgt. Sarah Haymond, 379th ESFS NCO in charge of police services who is deployed from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. and a Dover, N.H. native said, "Tracking vehicle accidents which occur on base has led us to determine hot spots where the amount of accidents are higher than other areas. The Independence Dining Facility parking lot has a high volume of traffic and is the area with the most number of vehicle accidents.
"We classify accidents into vehicle-on-vehicle and vehicle-on-fixed object categories and we were surprised to find most people are driving into rocks, barriers and poles. Accidents happen, but the frequency of them occurring needs to be reduced and the responsibility falls on the operator of the vehicle and their situational awareness."
To increase traffic safety awareness, the safety office has joined security forces in ensuring vehicle occupants are wearing their seatbelt.
"The addition of seat belt checks are a new and evolutionary safety awareness step at Al Udeid," Circe said. "As the base continues to move towards an enduring posture, the safety office has adapted its practices. We will continue to conduct random checks at random intervals in order to reinforce the importance of full-time compliance with the law, DoD and Air Force standards."
Both safety and security forces airmen agreed the majority of vehicle accidents were caused by inattention and complacency.
"Always pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when moving around critical corners, parking and maneuvering around objects," Circe said. "Critical corners refer to a vehicle's closest corner to an object when backing out of a parking space. Please remain vigilant and stay safe."