YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Last year saw fewer on-duty and off-duty vehicle accidents peninsula-wide, prompting U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon LaPorte to tell the Senate Armed Services Committee that 2004 was the safest in South Korea.

“USFK has just completed its safest year on the Korean Peninsula,” according to the testimony, which was submitted March 9 during a committee budget hearing in Washington. “Across the command, we have achieved significant reductions in accidental deaths and injuries, and ground and aviation accidents.”

In 2004, vehicle and personal injury accidents among 8th Army troops declined by 46 percent from the previous year, according to LaPorte’s public affairs office. The numbers reflect “reportable accidents” among the 23,000 8th Army troops in South Korea.

Reportable accidents include those that cause a fatality, permanent disability, missed or restricted work or first aid, according to USFK. These statistics don’t include injuries sustained during crimes, pre-existing conditions or self-inflicted wounds, according to USFK.

“I attribute our tremendous success in safety to a multipronged approach that emphasizes leader involvement at every level, integrates risk management and safety training into every event, and continually reinforces safety awareness,” LaPorte told Congress.

USFK has added safety measures during LaPorte’s tenure in South Korea — a span of time that includes the 2002 incident in which a U.S. military vehicle ran over and killed two Korean girls.

Some changes include moving oversized, armored vehicles on flatbed trucks, rather than directly on the road.

Many of those vehicle movements are now done at night, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Four or more vehicles moving together constitute a convoy, which needs a clearance before traveling, according to USFK.

During the same time, USFK officials limited driving privileges to E-7s and raised the on-base drinking age from 20 to 21.

According to USFK, 8th Army in 2004 had 25 Army motor vehicle accidents, down from 33 in 2003, a 24 percent drop. On-duty personal injuries fell from 44 in 2003 to 34 in 2004, a 23 percent difference.

Off-duty accidents also declined, from 26 in 2003 to 17 in 2004, a 35 percent decrease.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now