The annual 101 Days of Summer safety stand down, which focuses on driving safety, accident prevention and education, kicked off the summer season at the Camp Pendleton base theater, May 11.
Each year, hundreds of service members are killed on the road due to alcohol, inattention and aggressive versus defensive driving.
The 101 Days of Summer safety stand down raises awareness and educates service members, occasionally through the use of humor or visual shock treatment, of the importance of being in control and aware while driving.
Motorcycle safety, speed and alcohol use were among the top issues spoken about at the stand down.
Gunnery Sgt. David Smith, the first speaker at the stand down, chose to share his story about his motorcycle accident he was involved in, with the audience. Smith was hit by a woman who was not only texting while driving, but also had a blood alcohol content of .37. In California, .08 is the legal BAC limit.
After 23 days in critical care, and several surgeries later, Smith was finally released from the hospital. Even though he is out of the hospital, after a somewhat miraculous and speedy recovery, he will still live with the consequences of another person’s actions for the rest of his life. He will always carry the physical and mental scars of that day.
Smith presented before and after pictures of his motorcycle, as well as photos from his time in the hospital. Smith believes he is lucky to be alive.
His was just one of the many stories which the audience heard while at the stand down. Several other stories and photos were presented by Eric Newbury, a California Highway Patrol officer and speaker at the stand down. The retired Marine major used humor throughout his brief not only to keep the attention of the audience, but also to ensure that his message was memorable.
“When Marines see me out in town in civilian attire, they sometimes come up to me and say, ‘Hey! You’re the stupid guy,’” Newbury said.
Of course, the Marines do not say this out of disrespect. They are referring to how Newbury gives his briefs. Anytime Newbury has a point to make he will show a video or picture or relay a story in which the main character is “stupid” because of his or her actions.
Newbury said being referred to as “the stupid guy” is not offensive because it goes to show that the Marines are paying attention and remembering the important issues he talks about.
Both Smith and Newbury agree that one of the keys to road safety is to remain vigilant. Situational awareness and defensive driving are essential, whether riding a motorcycle or driving in a car or truck.
In addition to the lectures and briefs given at the base theater, Marine Corps Community Services encourages summer safety by holding the 101 Days of Summer unit challenge. This challenge begins May 24 and continues through Sept. 4. It will include various events and challenges for the units aboard Camp Pendleton to participate in.
For more information on the 101 Days of Summer unit challenge please visit http://www.mccscp.com/health.