CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa - A car sits destroyed on the side of the road with its front end smashed in by a concrete barricade. Glass and metal pieces lay on the ground just past black tire tracks leading from the center of the road to the accident site. Just moments before this scene occurred, the driver was texting his friend back.
Accident scenarios like this can be avoided, but never the less, they have played-out countless times on roadways around the world, claiming the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
“It is important that everyone takes traffic safety seriously,” said Staff Sgt. Collinger F. Daughtry, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Installation Safety Office, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “While out on the road, it’s not just your life you are protecting when you drive safely, but the lives of the drivers and passengers in the cars around you.”
There have been 963 traffic accidents on Okinawa involving military personnel or their dependents from Jan. 1 to Aug. 5 of this year, according to Takeshi Amuro, an investigative technician with the MCB Butler Provost Marshal’s Office.
Drivers can follow a few simple tips to help ensure they are operating their vehicle as safely as possible.
“One big cause for traffic accidents and people getting (issued citations) is using electronic (devices) while driving,” said Daughtry. “The few seconds you take to look at a text can be the few seconds used to prevent you from getting in an accident because you weren’t paying attention to the road.
“It’s also important that you secure all loose items, so that they do not move freely if there is an accident.”
Drivers should also ensure that their driving is not hindered by controlled substances, emotional distress or fatigue.
“A person may be considered hindered not only from consumption of alcohol or drugs, but also because of their emotional state of being,” said Daughtry. “When people are dealing with emotional issues, it sometimes hinders their judgment and their reaction time to make wise, sound decisions.”
All drivers should be provided with at least eight consecutive hours of rest (off duty) during any 24-hour period prior to operating a vehicle, according to Marine Corps Order 5100.19E, the Marine Corps traffic safety program.
In addition to following the Marine Corps order, drivers must always obey all local traffic laws where they are stationed or traveling.
“Laws are set in place to protect everyone on the road,” said Daughtry. “It’s important to follow them while keeping your concentration on the road and your surroundings, to help make the road safer for everyone.”
To review the traffic laws and common street signs visit: http://www.mcipac.marines.mil/Portals/28/Documents/Driving.pdf