Back It Up: Summer Driving Safety

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – -- Risk management and situational awareness are two key phrases known for their importance and application across the Air Force.

The Air Force began an updated safety initiative in October 2016 that would replace the 101 Critical Days of Summer.

“Quest for Zero is an Air Force initiative to achieve zero mishaps on- or off-duty ,” said Staff Sgt. DeAnndra Morgan, NCO in charge of inspections and assessments with the 1st Special Operations Wing Safety Office. “It is based on statistics the Air Force Safety Center has gathered.”

On-duty incidents occur more often than one may think. Between May and June of 2016, 22 mishaps occurred on Hurlburt Field. This year, that number has decreased to nine mishaps in May and June.

Quest for Zero consists of 24 separate focus topics on safety and concerns such as fatigue and same level slips, hazardous energy and lifting, and vehicle backing and caught-in/between . Two topics are highlighted each month to help concentrate on specific safety areas that Airmen can learn to apply in their daily lives.

“Mishaps are going to occur,” said Joe Freese, a safety technician with the 1st SOW Safety office. “Nobody’s intentionally going to tear an Achilles’ tendon or tear their meniscus. The risk is always going to be there, but the Quest for Zero is meant to teach people to be smarter about what they’re doing.”

Risk management and safety on duty is the center of the initiative, with hopes that better safety practices at work will lead to safer activities outside the gates.

“Vehicle backing and caught-in/between are July’s topics,” said Morgan. “People are always on the road, so there are always risk management processes that can be applied.”

According to Joe Freese, approximately 25 backing incidents occur on Hurlburt every year – that’s 25 incidents that can be prevented.

“Preventing an incident can be as simple as paying attention,” Freese said. “Maintaining situational awareness while operating a vehicle can make all the difference.”

Civil engineering, logistics readiness and maintenance squadrons on Hurlburt are at a higher risk of incidents due to the large vehicles they operate, according to Freese.

“Forklifts, bread trucks, towing vehicles – you name it,” Freese said. “These kinds of vehicles require special care when backing.”

Avoid backing, and caught-in/between incidents by following these safety tips:
- Use a spotter
- Do a walk-around of your vehicle
- Don’t depend on back-up cameras
- Know your vehicle’s clearances
- Know your vehicle’s blind spots

“It’s pretty cut and dry for the most part,” said Freese. “People need to pay attention to what they’re doing, take their time and not get complacent.”

For more information on vehicle backing and caught-in/between safety, and all Quest for Zero initiatives, call the safety office at (850) 884-2614 or visit www.safety.af.mil/Divisions/Occupational-Safety-Division/Quest-for-Zero/.