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Distraction and task saturation

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Joe Hayslett
  • 36 WG Safety
Ladies and Gentlemen, this week as we enjoy the mid-point of summer, I want to remind you of some simple actions that could save your life.
As I opened my safety files this morning, I was extremely saddened to see that we (Air Force) lost four Airmen recently to preventable accidents--11 total thus far for the 101 Critical Days of Summer. Two weeks ago we were on track for an outstanding summer of safety and since that time we have experienced three private motor vehicle fatalities, one motorcycle fatality and one sports and recreation fatality (two wheeled off-road motorcycle).
One common thread with all accidents occurring throughout our 101 Days is each involved some type of motorized transportation i.e. a four wheeled vehicle, motorcycle, ATV, or boat.
When operating a vehicle we must realize the potential dangers involved and attempt to mitigate those risks through smart decision-making both before and during operation. First, make sure your vehicle is in excellent condition and prepared for your trip or activity, NEVER DRINK AND OPERATE ANY VEHICLE, WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, and finally, KEEP DISTRACTIONS TO A MINIMUM.
This summer all the above safety precautions have been factors of fatalities in our Air Force. Our first fatality involved drinking while boating. The individual fell off the vessel and drowned. In seven of our summer fatalities the use of personal protective equipment remains in question. Lastly, we had six fatalities that could be attributed to possible distraction or lack of attentiveness during vehicle operation.
In review of all Air Force summer fatalities we had three accidents with direct causes outside operator control; meaning with proper risk management eight of these individuals would be home with friends and family enjoying their summer.
YOU CAN SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE with very little forethought by using some common sense and taking a few preventive measures. As a reminder, NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE! Remember to always follow posted speed limits, and never let distractions such as cell phone calls, text messaging, DVD player, loud music, food, drinks, kids and conversations with friends distract you from your primary purpose of operating your vehicle safely! If faced with these distractions, pull over safely and alleviate the situation before continuing your trip.
Finally, if you ride a motorcycle, keep your vision caged to the road ahead and remember that where your eyes go the bike follows. Leave plenty of space for maneuver, observe posted speed limits, watch out for the unexpected around curves, and WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE GEAR!
Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, these statistics are not strictly limited to military members. Recently, stateside, five young women lost their lives to a vehicle operator text messaging on her phone while driving. A totally preventable loss! Remember to think ahead before you operate a motor vehicle, remove as many distractions as possible, and wear your personal protective equipment. Have a safe, enjoyable summer! Thank you for your service. Safety is Paramount!

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