Safe summer driving key to enjoying season

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
High temperatures, long weekends and a break from school all combine to make summer one of the seasons best-suited for travel.

Making smart decisions behind the wheel and taking the time to ensure their vehicles are ready to handle the rigors of summer can help drivers take full advantage of everything the season has to offer.

Staff Sgt. Joel Nobles, 28th Bomb Wing Safety Office safety investigations NCO in charge, said some things have to be taken into special consideration when navigating roads around the Black Hills.

"Be aware of railroad crossings in the local area - most of them do not have arms that lower when a train is crossing," Nobles said. "Also, be aware of tourists and motorcycle riders as we are coming up on the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally."

Nobles said motorcycle accidents are unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence once the weather warms up, noting that 10 accidents were reported to the 28th BW Safety Office in the summer of 2012.

Nobles said that cyclists and all-terrain vehicle operators should familiarize themselves with a new base traffic regulation released April 28, "EAFB 31-116 V12," along with Air Force Instruction 91-207, "U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program."

"The bottom line is that if you want to ride an ATV or motorcycle, make sure you have the proper training - MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation Training) for motorcycles or SVIA (Specialty Vehicle Institute of America) training for ATVs," Nobles said.

Nobles said state registration, compliance with requirements for street legality and the wearing of personal protective equipment complete the package.

Not every factor that ensures a safe drive is determined behind the wheel. Often, the key to an uneventful trip is accomplished before the wheels begin rolling.

Dave Roney, 28th Force Support Squadron Auto Hobby Center manager, said pre-travel inspections are a must.

"We tell people to have someone, preferably a professional, check their vehicle before taking it on a long trip," Roney said. "You can't trust your safety to just anybody."

Roney explained a few specific items - such as the levels of windshield wiper fluid, engine oil and antifreeze, should be constantly monitored and topped off before a long drive if needed. Another thing he encourages drivers to watch out for is the condition of their tires and brakes.

"It's much easier for tires to blow out from a crack in the summer than in the winter because they are constantly heating up," Roney said. "Brakes also heat up, and cause the calipers to crack."

Not every accident is preventable, and Nobles encourages drivers to keep certain items in their vehicle to make the situation a little easier.

"We recommend that people take first aid kits, water, food and blankets when traveling," Nobles said. "There are large distances between cities in this part of the country and you never know how long you might be stranded if something were to happen."

Roney added drivers should make their vehicle's safety and operational order top priorities.

"Don't wait until the last minute," Roney said. "Your safety is your responsibility."

Nobles added the choices made behind the wheel can impact more than just the driver.

"One wrong move on the road could cost you, or someone else, their life," Nobles said. "It's important to practice safe driving because it saves lives."

For more information about driving regulations on base, call the 28th BW Safety Office at (605) 385-7233.

For more information about preparing your vehicle for summer, call the 28th FSS Auto Hobby center at (605) 385-2900.