IMCOM mandates driver training for soldiers
Starting next month, all soldiers aged 26 and younger living in Europe will be required to take a mandatory driver safety course as part of an effort to cut down on traffic fatalities, the Installation Management Command-Europe announced.
The course, called Intermediate Driver’s Training, “is designed to help ensure soldiers have the skills, knowledge and motivation to avoid motor vehicle accidents on and off duty,” an IMCOM-E release stated. “Driving accidents in Army motor vehicles and privately owned vehicles are the No. 1 killer of soldiers.”
IMCOM-E is the organization responsible for delivering and funding the training throughout Europe, according to Maureen Pikal, the agency’s safety officer.
The 2½-hour course is part of the six-part Army Traffic Safety Training Program, and it includes a video presentation and discussion sessions, according to the release, issued Tuesday.
Other parts of the program include Introduction to Drivers training, which soldiers go through during Advanced Individual Training; local hazards training when soldiers move to a new duty station; the intermediate course; and an advanced course.
Although four hours of driver safety training has been mandated by the DOD for all servicemembers, different garrisons and units were providing it in different ways, Pikal stated. So the Army standardized its safety training program, Pikal wrote in an e-mail message.
“The leading killer of soldiers on and off duty is (privately owned vehicle) and (Army motor vehicle) accidents,” she wrote. “For some time, the Army has recognized that (privately owned vehicle and Army motor vehicle) accident rates needed to be addressed.”
Statistics on traffic fatalities back up the Army’s need to target younger drivers.
In 2005, drivers age 24 or younger were responsible for 29 percent of all traffic fatalities, and drivers in that group had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes compared with other age groups, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted on their Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
The NHTSA also found that the 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage of alcohol-related driving fatalities. Thirty-two percent of the fatal crashes involved alcohol levels above the legal limit.
Statistics also found that male drivers are almost three times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident, accounting for 70 percent of them. Men also are 13 percent more likely than women to not be wearing a seat belt when involved in a fatal collision, and 10 percent more likely to have alcohol involved, the NHTSA said.
A date by which the Army training must be completed was not given, but Pikal did say “as soon as possible.” The only exemption, according to Pikal, is if a soldier has taken the course at a previous duty station.
While all servicemembers are required to take some form of driver safety training, the Army is the only service that has standardized the training so far.
For more information about the class or the program, visit the IMCOM-E Web site at www.ima-e.army.mil and click on the ATSTP banner.