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Naval Support Activity Naples safety specialist Vito Guerriero talks to Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Jump before he begins the “drunk goggles” driving course during the base’s summer safety program kickoff.

Naval Support Activity Naples safety specialist Vito Guerriero talks to Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry Jump before he begins the “drunk goggles” driving course during the base’s summer safety program kickoff. (Shaun Knittel / U.S. Navy)

NAPLES, Italy — Naval forces in Europe are kicking off their annual summer safety programs, attempting to reduce off-duty injuries and fatalities.

Navy commands focus heavily on the summer months because most accidents involving off-duty military personnel happen during that time period, said Bill Turnbull, Navy Region Europe’s safety manager.

“There are more during the summer than the rest of the year combined,” he said.

Rota, Spain, kicked off its summer safety program to coincide with the beginning of the Spanish festival season in early May. Most European commands usually start their campaign before the Memorial Day weekend.

This year’s summer safety programs in Europe include four separate areas: anti-terrorism and force protection for summer travel, home fire prevention, disaster preparedness, and traffic safety, Turnbull said.

Loss of life from any of these areas has a direct impact on the Navy and its personnel, he said.

“There’s a cost,” he said. “There’s the real dollar cost and a real emotional cost that we can’t afford to pay.”

This season’s safety program comes at a critical time for Navy safety programs.

In the first three months of the fiscal year, the Navy had more personal motor vehicle deaths than it had expected for the entire year, according to the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va. The center reported 30 sailors killed in off-duty crashes between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2005, which was one above the expected total of 29 or fewer.

As of May 17, that number is up to 55 vehicle deaths out of 79 total sailors killed this fiscal year; out of the remainder, only 13 were work-related.

Last fiscal year, there were 101 Navy deaths, of which 79 were traffic deaths.

Turnbull said naval forces in Europe have a relatively low rate compared to stateside regions.

“This is probably because our sailors and employees do more things connected to the base,” he said, explaining that in the States, people tend to work there and socialize elsewhere.

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