Fiscal 2013 was the Army’s safest year to date, according to end-of-year data recently released by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center.
Accidental fatalities declined 9 percent between fiscal 2012 and 2013, falling to an all-time low of 137 losses. The previous benchmark was set in fiscal 1997, when 150 Soldiers were killed in accidents.
“This is an outstanding accomplishment for our leaders and Soldiers,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general of U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center. “It not only testifies to their safety commitment and leadership at all levels across the Army, but also strengthens evidence that we are moving in the right direction.”
On duty, accidental losses fell 6 percent from 2012, continuing a years-long downward trend in work-related deaths. The drop in off-duty fatalities was even more impressive, with a 17-percent reduction that was more than double last year’s decline. A marked drop in fatal private motor vehicle accidents, historically the No. 1 accidental killer of Soldiers, was largely responsible for this success.
The 40-percent decline in sedan deaths and 15-percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities, the latter coming after a three-year upward trend, validates steps the Army has taken in recent years to combat these losses, said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard D. Stidley, USACR / Safety Center.
“We can’t overstate how important this is for our (private motor vehicle) safety programs,” Stidley said. “More Soldiers are home now than in at least the previous 10 years, so that means greater exposure to the hazards of driving and riding. Engaged leadership, Soldiers looking out for one another and better training opportunities are making a real difference.”
While most accident categories experienced double-digit reductions throughout fiscal 2013, water-related fatalities were up 225 percent from the previous year. Seven Soldiers drowned during the last quarter alone.
“Boating and drowning deaths tend to rise during the third and fourth quarters every year, because that’s when Soldiers are on the water most,” Edens said. “While this isolated cluster of incidents doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend, it and the rash of ATV accidents we experienced earlier this year show we can’t let down our guard, no matter how well we’re doing in the big picture.”
While 2013 was a banner year for safety, senior Army leaders called for a further 10-percent reduction in fatal accidents service-wide in the 2014 Army Safety and Occupational Health Objectives.