Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas --
Texting, eating, talking and navigation systems all have one thing in common: They can all distract a driver.
According to the Department of Transportation, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2013. Twenty-seven percent of those fatal accidents involved drivers in their 20s.
The issue of distracted driving is nationwide.
President Barack Obama stated in a presidential proclamation, “No person should suffer the tragedy of losing someone as a result of drunk, drugged, or distracted driving, but for far too long the danger of impaired driving has robbed people of the comfort of knowing that when they or a loved one leaves home they will return safely. Impaired driving puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk, and each year it claims the lives of thousands of Americans.”
Of all distractions, cell phones are the biggest concern, and the Air Education and Training Command has acknowledged it.
“Airmen and their families are the number-one resource the Air Force depends on for mission success,” said Lt. Col. Cory Christoffer, 47th Flying Training Wing chief of safety. “Mishaps caused by distracted driving have increased dramatically over the past 18 months causing the Air Force and AETC to initiate a proactive awareness campaign to strive for zero occupational/motor vehicle mishaps.”
In the attempt to combat this growing epidemic, the AETC safety office is encouraging all commanders to challenge their Airmen to avoid all distractions while driving. This especially includes cell phone usage for three weeks.
“The 21-day challenge is good for all Airmen and their commanders because it gives a goal, provides accountability, and upon mission success, it allows for a sense of accomplishment,” said Christoffer.
AETC hopes this challenge will promote good driving habits within the Air Force and reduce the number of driving incidents.
Laughlin members should remember that any cell phone use - without a hands-free device - while on the installation is prohibited. The state of Texas bans all cellphone usage with any passengers of ages 17 and under and cellphone usage while driving for all minors under the age of 18.
For more information, visit the Department of Transportation’s website.