by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A couple of “dummies” are expected to visit 21st Space Wing offices May 27 to kick off this year’s 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign.
“Vince and Larry,” the crash test dummies who star in U.S. Department of Transportation service announcements and model seatbelt safety practices through slapstick antics, will make the rounds to remind people to click on their seatbelts every time they get in a car.
It’s just one of many activities planned from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, those critical days of summer when safety mishaps tend to increase.
From May 24 to June 6, 2009, 23 people died in car crashes in Colorado, 56 percent of those were not wearing a seatbelt. During recent safety inspections of motorists on Peterson Air Force Base, 21st Space Wing Safety Office personnel typically observe 5 percent of motorists do not wear their seatbelts.
Since the first 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign in 1967, Air Force leaders have put extra emphasis on safety during the summer months in an effort to reduce mishaps, said Luis Harris, 21st SW Safety Office acting ground safety manager.
“During this time, it is traditionally when we have (permanent change of station) moves, and people are outside and doing more activities,” he said. “We just want to make sure that when people are participating in activities, they have fun, but do it safely.”
Kicking off the summer safety season was a drinking and driving simulation where Airmen, ages 18 to 25, got a chance to get behind the wheel to show what really happens if they drink and then drive. The program, called “Save a Life Tour” was held May 13 in The Club and will tour other bases within Air Force Space Command.
“It’s a very convincing experience for young people, who think they can drink and drive, to sit through the simulation,” Mr. Harris said. “Our message is: use your Wingman so that no one (drives while intoxicated), or call your supervisor; call someone.”
In the past 10 years, the Air Force has lost an average of 24 Airmen a year to off-duty car crashes. Of those, 33 percent were alcohol-related. The 21st SW Judge Advocate General estimates the cost of a DWI to be $8,000 for court costs and attorney fees.
Mr. Harris encourages Airmen to ACT – assess, consider and take appropriate action – when confronting an unsafe situation.
Some other activities planned for the 21st SW’s 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign include Motorcycle Safety Day from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 2 at The Club. Officials will run safety checks on motorcycles, host a burger burn and offer an open ride. In June, the safety office will have a “drunken goggles” demonstration, where Airmen will be asked to play a game while wearing goggles that simulate the effects of alcohol consumption, “so they can see how they function,” Mr. Harris said.
The safety office will also host a bicycle rodeo at the base exchange, a vehicle inspection day at the Auto Hobby Shop and display a crashed car. Last summer, the 21st SW had 15 reported safety mishaps from sports and recreation to vehicle crashes. That was down from the previous summer, Mr. Harris said.
“Our ultimate goal is to have zero mishaps,” he added.
• Anyone who would like to volunteer to lead any of the summer safety activities, including dressing up like Vince and Larry, helping with the drunken goggle games or any of the safety days, call Mr. Harris at 556-6781 or Tech. Sgt. Christopher Blasengame at 556-7091.