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Practice What You Preach

Practice What You Preach

Installation Safety Office
Fort Sill, Oklahoma

It was just after 6 p.m. and I needed to run to the store to get a few items before starting a five-month stay at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Attempting to get in as much family time as possible before I left, my wife and kids decided to come along. As my wife got behind the wheel, the kids jumped into the backseat and buckled up. It wasn’t long before my middle child, who always reminds me to buckle up by quoting a radio commercial that states most accidents happen within a few miles of home, yelled, “Dad, your seat belt!” I was busy talking to my wife, though, and ignored the warning. I told myself, “We’re just going around the corner.”

We headed down a four-lane divided highway toward the store and then turned onto a two-lane residential road. The road was crowded with motorists headed home from work. We were all talking and carrying on when an oncoming minivan suddenly veered into our lane. I frantically reached for my seat belt and braced myself for the impact. Fortunately, my wife reacted just in time to avoid a head-on collision. We came so close to the minivan that you could hear the air stream around both vehicles collide and make a sound like a small explosion.

All I could think about were the words my daughter had so often said to me about buckling up. I pulled the seat belt around me and locked it, thanking God it had only been a close call. My wife looked at me and said, “You’re a little late, don’t you think?”

I consider myself a very good defensive driver. However, I’d become complacent about my driving skills and believed I could avoid any accident that might come my way. I didn’t stop to think about the fact that I wasn’t driving or had no control over the driver in the minivan. My wife is a good driver, too, and avoided what would have been a nasty head-on collision. But is everyone you ride with that good? And what about the driver in the other vehicle? Can you afford to assume you can always avoid them?

I finally realized my defensive driving skills can’t guarantee I’ll always survive when something goes wrong on the road. Like my daughter reminded me, I need to buckle up every time I drive or ride in a vehicle. It’s all about safety — which is my profession. Of all people, I might have been that needless fatality we preach about to Soldiers. It took me almost getting killed or seriously injured to learn the value of practicing what I preach — seat belts save lives. Learn from my close call, just as I did, and always buckle up for safety.

  • 1 November 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10477
  • Comments: 0