The Labor Day weekend marked the culmination of the Navy’s annual 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign and reveals vigilance and awareness remain critical factors.
The Naval Safety Center (NAVSAFECEN) reports that between May 22 and Sept. 15, the Navy and Marine Corps experienced nine fatalities. In summary, there were two private motor vehicle fatalities, two motorcycle fatalities, one drowning mishap and a light civil aircraft crash. Additionally, three service members lost their lives in pedestrian-related mishaps, which brings the pedestrian number to 10 so far in fiscal 2020.
Of note, private motor vehicle, motorcycle and off-duty recreational fatalities were each below the campaign timeframe’s five-year average mishap rates; the current pandemic environment was a likely factor.
The number of pedestrian fatalities remains a concern, according to NAVSAFECEN Shore Safety and Occupational Health Manager Keith Wilson. As the safety advocate for the naval enterprise, NAVSAFECEN tracks pedestrian mishaps for Sailors and Marines. Over the past five years, there have been 16 pedestrian-related fatalities.
“Stop using your phone while walking, and that’s not just while in a crosswalk or intersection,” Wilson said. “If you are using your phone, you don’t have 100 percent of your attention on the traffic around you.”
Pedestrians should use marked crosswalks and comply with pedestrian signals at intersections. Remember to look both ways twice before stepping off the curb and never assume vehicles will stop or even see you and don’t turn your back on moving traffic. During roadside emergencies, pull well off the road and remain clear of the traffic side of your vehicle, especially in low-light situations. If you must walk along the road to find help, keep off the road surface and walk toward oncoming traffic.
Being safety-conscious is a 365-day effort and Sailors and Marines need to practice operational risk management (ORM). Safety analysts report FY20 off-duty recreational fatalities continue to trend upward; as of Sept. 2, there have been eight fatalities, compared to the FY15-FY19 average yearly rate of nine.
“The Naval Safety Center knows firsthand that safety practices and awareness do not take a holiday,” said Rear Adm. F.R. “Lucky” Luchtman, NAVSAFECEN commander.
NAVSAFECEN collaborates with stakeholders across the naval enterprise to provide relevant information and data to develop leading indicators of risks and hazards both on and off duty. During this year’s campaign, NAVSAFECEN provided information on driving, motorcycle and pedestrian safety that remains relevant as we enter the latter part of the year.
“Operational readiness is maximized when Sailors and Marines think critically about safety,” said Luchtman. “Safety is not a mere program with checklists and policy statements. One cannot mandate safety.
“Sailors and Marines must incorporate safety and risk-management processes on and off duty, 24/7,” he said
Whether out on the road, crossing the street, using a cell phone or going for a swim, it is critical to maintain situational awareness and think before taking a potentially dangerous action.
Don’t drink and drive. Look both ways before crossing a street. Don’t text while driving. These are common but relevant refrains to remember.
“We must never accept any avoidable loss of life or loss of equipment as the cost of doing business,” said Luchtman. “Each one of us must work collectively as a force to adopt a safety culture and ensure operational readiness. It is imperative for everyone to look out for themselves and their fellow shipmates.”
The Safety Center serves as the safety conscience of the naval enterprise; enabling the Navy to foster a safety culture of excellence that encourages risk management, problem-solving and proactive thinking.
“With summer waning and cooler weather approaching, I encourage Sailors and Marines at all levels to ensure procedural compliance to prevent avoidable on-duty mishaps and reinforce the use of ORM to help reduce off-duty mishaps,” said Luchtman. “There remain areas of concern, such as pedestrian and off-duty recreational mishaps, that require our continued emphasis and awareness.”
“Take ownership of what you do on and off duty. Look out for yourself and your fellow Sailors and Marines. Remaining vigilant and practicing ORM will help ensure we continue to maintain our operational readiness.”
For additional resources on safety awareness, visit the Naval Safety Center’s website, https://navalsafetycenter.navy.mil.