Health & Safety

February 28, 2014

These numbers may be sobering

The aftermath of a single vehicle DUI accident near the intersection of Rosamond Blvd. and Lancaster Blvd. on Edwards AFB May 23, 2013. The driver, a senior airman from the 412th Security Forces Squadron, died at the scene.

Numbers do not lie. They can show the “truth” as an answer to a mathematical problem. They can also tell a story in the way of statistics.

In this story, the truth is that drunk driving, since 2003, has killed twice as many Americans than all U.S. military casualties since the beginning of the Vietnam War.

U.S. Military Casualties since the beginning of the Vietnam War – 65,180

U.S. Drunk Driving Casualties 2003 – 2012 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) – 119,115

There’s no data yet for 2013, but the U.S. averages more than 10,000 DUI-related deaths per year.

Here at Edwards AFB, six Airmen have been arrested for DUI since the beginning of 2014: a first lieutenant; staff sergeant; three senior airmen and an airman basic. Five were arrested off base and one on.

Last year, Edwards had 14 DUI arrests, including one fatality on base.

These numbers, while truthful and accurate, are not acceptable to Brig. Gen. Michael T. Brewer, 412th Test Wing commander.

“This [past] week we’ve had our sixth DUI since the beginning of the calendar year, so if you think about it, we’re about seven weeks into the year and we’re almost getting one a week,” said Brewer. “At best, we’ve had six lost careers, six altered futures, and for what? Absolutely nothing. At worst, we end up killing ourselves or we kill somebody else.”

Brewer cited that on average the United States loses five times the amount of Americans each year to DUIs than the total number of combat losses in the entire Afghanistan conflict.

“We have to do better.”

Brewer wants all Airman alike to use the 0-0-1-3 “Drink Responsibly” Program.

“Zero drinks if you’re underage. Zero drinks, ZERO, if you’re going to be driving. No more than one drink an hour. No more than three drinks a night.”

The Air Force has a “zero-tolerance” policy toward underage drinking and problem use of alcohol. When problems arise, the Air Force applies a two-pronged approach of treatment and prevention.

An integral part of the prevention approach is the Air Force’s “Culture of Responsible Choices” program, which serves as a prevention and awareness campaign across every Air Force base, emphasizing drinking as one of many lifestyle choices active-duty members make each and every day that could affect combat readiness. A standardized component of this initiative with respect to drinking is the 0-0-1-3 campaign.

The concept behind 0-0-1-3 is to encourage responsible alcohol consumption among Air Force personnel in order to create a common social norm, blending it into Air Force core values, its culture, and eventually, its traditions.

The principles of 0-0-1-3 were initially piloted at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., in 2004 with success. Within the first two quarters, the base had shown a 27-percent decrease in DUI rates and a 74- percent decrease in underage drinking incidents.

Edwards Airmen are reminded of the Airman Against Drunk Driving program as well. Airmen can call (661) 277-AADD(2233) if they are in the surrounding an area and need a ride back to base.

There were a lot of numbers in this article, they can be sobering, and some can save a life.




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