With all its weaponry and equipment, the Army’s most valued and complex asset is its service members. Fort Bragg has set aside the month of November to focus on winter safety.
In North Carolina, among the things to be aware of during winter months is driving. There are various steps leaders want Soldiers to take to keep safe as the days grow shorter and darker under Daylight Saving Time. DST, which signals the onset of winter, ends at 2 a.m., Sunday, when clocks are to be set back an hour.
Service members, Department of the Army civilians, contractors and Family members will be going and coming from work in dark or semi-dark conditions. This presents a higher-than-normal driving risk factor due to reduced visibility.
Some measures that can be taken to maintain safe driving habits, steps that Soldiers and Family members can take, are to get seven to nine hours of sleep, be aware of your surroundings, observe the speed limit, travel with a battle buddy, refrain from driving if you have been awake for 24 hours or more, and watch out for deer and wild life was the advice given by Joe Hafner, Installation Safety Office, in an email to the Paraglide.
When on a road trip, drivers should stop for rest every two hours and nap if drowsy.
Some night-time safety measures that can be taken before hitting the road include correctly aiming and cleaning headlights, as well as dimming the dashboard.
Other measures are cleaning the windshield to eliminate streaks as well as reducing speed to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time.
Generally, driving at night is often more risky because factors such as fatigue, depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark and the glare of headlights from oncoming traffic can temporarily blind a driver.
What makes driving at night more risky?
According to Hafner, rush hour and impaired drivers all contribute to making driving at night more dangerous than at any other time of day. Research provided by the National Safety Council indicates that the risk of a fatal crash increases by three times at night.
Other contributors to night-time driving accidents are speed and distracted driving.
Distracted driving includes talking, texting or tweeting from the driver’s seat; driving under the influence or driving without headlights turned on or operational.
In an effort to increase safety, Fort Bragg has recently implemented Driving Improvement Training — mandatory training for active-duty service members ticketed for speeding in excess of 15 mph over the posted speed limit, failing to stop at a traffic control device or being cited at-fault in a traffic accident that results in injury or tow of a vehicle. The training applies to active-duty service members ticketed on Fort Bragg, Camp Mackall, Simmons Army Airfield, Linden Oaks or Pope Field.
Safe driving ultimately aids readiness.
According to the NSC, safe driving training, could reduce repair bills, the incident rates of motor vehicle accidents, lower car insurance rates, decrease workers’ compensation claims and improve productivity by keeping employees safe, on and off the job.