TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Many people think they know how to drive and that they’re safe drivers. Statistics, however, tell a different story.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed in accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2016. Additionally, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people injured each day in the United States in an accident involving a distracted driver.
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on the phone, eating and drinking or changing the radio station.
In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, Travis Air Force Base, California, is slated to host a Stay Alive from Education presentation known as “Street Smart” at 7 a.m., 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Base Theater. Each presentation is open to anyone with base access.
The goal of the presentation is to enhance safety awareness for everyone, said Staff Sgt. Brian Dixon, 60th Air Mobility Wing occupational safety apprentice.
“We want people to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving such as people talking on their cell phone, texting, ignoring speed limits or people taking their eyes off the road,” said Dixon. “We want people to think about their actions and their families prior to getting behind the wheel. Who would be left behind and what would be the consequences if they made a poor decision?”
The Street Smart briefing will be presented by emergency medical technicians and firefighters from Florida who will share personal stories of incidents they responded to, including several auto accidents.
Dixon, who is a former member of Air Force Security Forces, said distracted driving is dangerous.
“I responded to an accident involving one distracted driver who fell asleep at the wheel,” he said. “He hit one car and crashed into a garage causing serious damage to the house and the car that was in the garage. The car he was driving was totaled and he caused more than $200,000 in damage. Thankfully, nobody got hurt in that accident, so he was lucky in that aspect.”
One former Airman making his drive home from work wasn’t so lucky.
“A friend of mine was driving home in Houston, Texas, when a distracted driver slammed into the back of his vehicle,” said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Morgan, 60th SFS flight sergeant. “The collision was so violent, because the guy who slammed into my friend’s car was traveling at excessive speeds, that my friend found himself sandwiched between the car that hit him and the car in front of him. Two of the cars then flipped over and fell into an embankment. My friend died at the scene and now his son will have to grow up without a father.”
Tech. Sgt. Davy Huffman, 60th SFS flight sergeant, hopes the Travis community attends the Street Smart presentation, learns the importance of safe driving and shares that knowledge with others.
“Any time you take the focus away from driving, even for a brief moment, you’re taking a serious risk,” he said. “Taking your eyes off the road to send a quick text message could be that moment when a child runs out in front of your car. We want everyone who can to attend the Street Smart presentation so they can not only enhance their own knowledge, but share that knowledge with others. Doing that will stress the importance of safe driving and likely save lives.”
According to the 60th SFS, since 2017, Travis has had 121 accidents on its roadways and 20 drivers have been cited for distracted driving.
For more information about the Street Smart presentation, visit the S.A.F.E website at http://www.safeprogram.com/distracted-driving.html.