Commentary: Is tragedy worth the rush?

  • Published
  • By Chris Lee
  • 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office
Utah is known for its beauty, vast array of outdoor activities and wildlife. However, according to a recent news story I read, it’s also known for having some of the worst drivers in the nation.

This determination was made by analyzing over 10 million insurance quotes and evaluating the number of accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations.

To further “drive-home” the point, 320 people died in traffic-related incidents in Utah during 2022. Of these motorcycle, pedestrian, bicyclist, and child deaths increased from 2021. In addition, more than 1,000 car accidents are caused by distracted driving each year.

Hill AFB is not immune to these alarming trends.

Over the past few years, we have had countless near-miss incidents between vehicles and school-aged children in the housing area, an increased numbers of speeding vehicles and, recently, a Team Hill member who was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding their bike to work.

All this leaves me asking, “What’s the rush?”

The installation safety office works diligently to identify trends, provide tools, and collaborate with employees to ensure the work environment is safe so they can return home in the same shape they arrived. We also work with senior leaders and mission partners to fix traffic safety hazards on the installation when they are identified.

All these efforts are meaningless though if employees continue to practice careless driving.

Hill AFB is home to more than 25,000 military, civilians, retirees, contractors, and families. Like the cities around it, it has congested traffic areas with blind corners, crosswalks and, of course, pedestrians.

So, how can you help?
• When driving, remember that speeding reduces both your reaction time and the distance it takes your vehicle to stop.
• Ensure you are giving yourself enough time to get to work so you don’t feel rushed and do not exceed the posted speed limit.
• Look ahead and drive defensively, bicycles, scooters and pedestrians can be unpredictable. Make sure you are prepared to stop if they are near the roadway.
• Cell phones must be in hands free mode while driving on the installation. Texting, watching videos, checking emails while operating a motor vehicle is strictly prohibited.

Just like off base, erratic behavior such as changing lanes without use of a turn signal, weaving in between traffic, running red lights, driving on the shoulder, and not stopping while a pedestrian is in the crosswalk are prohibited and can result in your driving privileges being suspended or revoked.

Next time you’re driving, whether it’s coming to work, driving to lunch, or leaving for the day, I urge you to consider your own driving behaviors.

Ask yourself if you are putting others’ safety at risk by speeding, reading text messages or simply being careless. Can you afford to pay for violating the speed limit, losing your driving privileges, or injuring someone?

It’s just not worth the rush.