Let's Prevent this Tragedy

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Team Sheppard--Imagine this scenario: You come back from a fun 3-day Labor Day weekend Tuesday morning, you sit down at your desk and turn on your computer, and you notice this e-mail from me in your in-box:

"Team Sheppard: I have some very sad news to report to you this morning. SSgt John Doe, from the XXX TRS, was killed in a motor vehicle accident late Friday night while traveling to visit relatives in Colorado. Although many details of the accident are still unknown at this time, it appears SSgt Doe's vehicle inexplicably collided directly into a bridge abutment just north of Amarillo, TX. Tragically, the accident killed SSgt Doe and his wife who were both in the front seat. Miraculously their 2-year-old daughter, Rebecca, who was in a car seat in the back seat, survived the accident but is in serious condition in an Amarillo hospital. Preliminary investigation reveals that neither front seat occupant was wearing seat belts. I ask for your thoughts and prayers for little Rebecca, SSgt Doe's family, and all the men and women of the XXX TRS who are grieving this morning. A Memorial Service is tentatively scheduled for 0900 Thursday morning in the North Chapel."

Just writing this scenario sent shivers down my spine, because in my heart I know how possible it is. Many of us will be driving long distances this weekend to visit family or friends, or just squeeze out that last bit of Summer vacation. 

Unfortunately, some of those drivers will have worked long hours all week, will be tired, and will be fighting the fatigue and drowsiness that often comes on long stretches of Texas roads. And some, hopefully very few or none, will not have their seat belts buckled because they find them uncomfortable or unnecessary.

The good news is all of the above is preventable. YOU can wear your seat belts 100% of the time. YOU can ensure you are rested before you depart. And if you feel the least bit drowsy while driving, YOU can pull over and change drivers or take a quick nap before continuing. The above scenario could happen to one of us, but it doesn't have to. 

Make the commitment now to keep your 3-day weekend safe. Ensure everyone in your vehicle is always buckled in, don't drink alcohol with car keys in your pocket or purse, and if you get sleepy, pull over at the first indication of drowsiness and change drivers or get some rest. And if you're a motorcycle rider, wear all your required PPE and be sure you have the training and experience to handle your bike.

Be safe this weekend Team Sheppard--let's all come back alive. I'm looking forward to sending a happy e-mail Tuesday morning saying we had an accident-free weekend with no DUIs!