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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2010

Officials announce holiday safety results

The Air Force had the lowest recorded number of private motor vehicle fatalities during the Thanksgiving-to-New Year's time frame - one - to include the lowest number of automobile fatalities - zero.

It was also the first time in 13 years the Air Force did not have a single active-duty death due to any type of safety mishap during this time frame.

In comparison, the Air Force has averaged more than six fatalities to personal motor vehicle mishaps during this time over the past 23 years.

"Our Airmen are taking the secretary's and chief of staff's memo on reckless behavior to heart," said Col. Roberto Guerrero, the Air Force Safety Center chief of ground safety. "The lone Airman, in the one (private motor vehicle) fatality that occurred right after the Thanksgiving holiday, was not at fault. He was struck by a non-Air Force drunk driver."

Phil Brown, ground safety manager with the 37th Training Wing Safety Office, said local safety campaigns centering on educational and interactive initiatives covering a range of activities designed to emphasize accountability, personal responsibility, and wingman-ship, were also very successful.

Over the last five years, for example, the 37th TRW experienced five lost-time mishaps during the Thanksgiving through New Year holidays.

This year, those mishaps were reduced by 80 percent, he said.

Mr. Brown said this year's efforts were successful because the variety of tools and tactics used throughout the campaign were more interactive and personal than in the past.

The office was also proactive in reaching out to leadership and middle management groups so the efforts and messages which captured the attention of Airmen could reinforced throughout the holidays by leadership endorsement and emphasis.

"We hit some groups we didn't in the past," Mr. Brown said. We made a pretty good pitch to those groups - First Sergeants Council, Top 3 Council, Airmen's Voice, etc. - who would be carrying our safety message to the Airmen," he said.

Mr. Brown said the safety office hopes to continue the positive momentum built throughout the holiday safety campaign to ensure Airmen don't get complacent with regard to safety.

One of the ways they hope to do that is by repackaging proven ideas by incorporating input and assistance from their main target audience of 18- to 26-year-old Airmen.

"These groups participated in focus groups with us and are leading safety and risk management in their organizations. They are telling us what (safety efforts) works and what doesn't and helping us craft our messages in a way that appeals or registers with them," he said.