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News > Commentary - Traffic Safety - Are you 'Highlighting' yourself?
Traffic Safety - Are you 'Highlighting' yourself?

Posted 9/21/2012   Updated 9/21/2012 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by Lt. Col. Geoffrey Gibbs
Chief of the 42nd Air Base Wing Safety Division


9/21/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Al  -- Summer's gone and the days are getting shorter. Have you exercised your personal risk management and assessed how that shift in daylight might affect your visibility and safety? I'm not just talking about how well you can see in the dark, but how well others can see you.

Air Force Instructions, such as 91-207, are pretty specific, "When jogging or running on roadways at night or in inclement weather (e.g., fog, rain, sleet, snow, etc.), personnel will wear clothing containing retro-reflective properties or retro-reflective accessories visible from the front and back." The language is very similar for those riding bicycles or other "human powered vehicles." Yet, some of us are endangering ourselves and others by not taking that extra minute to consider whether we're wearing the appropriate gear for the conditions in which we're operating.

More to the point, if you look at the diagram to the right, you'll notice the earliest the average driver will notice a pedestrian or bike rider without reflective gear is well inside the absolute stopping distance for the average vehicle travelling at 60 miles per hour. That's a potential recipe for disaster, particularly if you consider the reduced visibility of someone wearing darker clothing. You might say, "I'm not running out in 60 mph traffic." Perhaps on base, that might be true.

However, even at 25 mph the shortest stopping distance you can expect is nearly 60 feet, and that's assuming the driver is paying close attention, sees you right away and has great reaction time and driving skills with perfect driving surface conditions.

You can easily double that distance if the driver is distracted, the headlights aren't pointed right at you, the road's a little wet or the driver's not looking specifically in your direction. Do you really want to risk your life on all those assumptions?

So what's the bottom line? If you're not wearing reflective gear while riding or running in low visibility conditions, you're not in compliance with the AFI. But I would like to think it's more than
compliance.

It's about "Integrity" by doing what we should even when no one's looking; it's about "Service" by setting and encouraging the standard for others to follow; and it's about "Excellence" in
the knowledge that we're successfully executing the mission (e.g. staying fit) in the safest way possible. We've all heard the statistics - we lose more people to non-combat activities than we do in combat.

Don't be another statistic. See and be seen.



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