Making life or death choices

  • Published
  • By Mike Jett
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety Office
We make choices every day, some don't require much thought while others take time and analysis. But some of the most important decisions, or choices, that could be the difference between life and death are often ignored.

Especially when it comes to the big four - seatbelts, excessive speed for conditions, distracted driving and alcohol.

We are overwhelmed with statistics showing that if you are involved in a vehicle mishap, survivability is greatly increased by wearing a seatbelt. In 2008, 55 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants were unrestrained. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost two-thirds of those occupants were killed during the night, compared to 45 percent during the day.

Knowing that seatbelts save lives, why are people still dying because they were unbuckled? They made the choice not to wear their seatbelt.

Is the speed limit always the safest speed to travel? The Christmas holiday almost certainly showed us there is a time to slow down or, in this case, to not drive at all.

How about the dense fog we've recently experienced, did you slow down? We've all seen those curves in the road where the speed limit is greatly reduced. The speed you drive, either alone or with family or friends, is a choice.

The following question was asked during a traffic safety class: how many of you send text messages while you drive? The response was astounding. Three quarters of the room raised their hands.

One person stood and told the group, "I've been known to text, find a song on my IPod, eat and smoke all while I'm driving. I know it's probably not safe, but I do it anyway."

Driving while distracted is a choice.

Did you know that the 82nd Security Forces Squadron at Sheppard has apprehended people at the main gate for driving under the influence when there is a completely sober passenger in the car? The driver made the choice to drink and drive. The passenger made the choice to allow the driver to drive drunk and put him or herself and others at risk.

Life is all about choices. We are provided all the information we need to weigh the benefits against the risk. Use the risk management principles learned to help make the right choice.

The choices made may be the difference in life or death. Not only for you, but also for the innocent who will be affected by your choice.