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While the Navy and Marine Corps’ annual “critical days of summer” safety program is off to its worst start since 2002, naval forces in Europe are having a relatively safe summer so far. In fact, they’re on track to have significantly fewer accidents and driving under the influence incidents than last year.

“We’re either really lucky or doing something right,” said Navy Region Europe’s safety manager, Bill Turnbull. “We’d like to think we’re doing something right.”

During 2005, 21 Navy personnel in Europe were injured in accidents, nine of which were motor vehicle accidents. In the month since the beginning of the Navy and Marine Corps’ “critical days of summer” season, set between Memorial Day and Labor Day, only one person has been injured, and that was a motor vehicle accident that was not life-threatening.

“I’m pleased that it’s a downward trend in injuries,” Turnbull said. “Zero injuries is hard to achieve.”

While Navy Europe is seeing a decline, that’s not the case for the rest of the Navy and Marine Corps. As of June 28, 103 sailors and Marines have been killed in traffic accidents, according to the Naval Safety Center. This is the highest number of deaths since 1993, when the Navy had about 150,000 more sailors than it does today.

Turnbull said that Navy leadership and safety officials in Europe aren’t resting on their successes.

Before the long July 4 weekend, Turnbull said they focused on everything from barbecue fires to fireworks, recreational activities to road trips and, since many of the Navy bases are in southern Europe, summer heat.

“Heat exhaustion,” he said. “People don’t think of that, as they’re not used to it yet. It’s still early on in the summer.”

Incidents of driving under the influence are also down this summer, Turnbull said. While last year sailors and Navy civilians had 12 DUIs during the summer season, there have only been three so far this year.

Taken together, Turnbull said the drops in accidents and DUIs are encouraging.

“It’s not necessarily anything that the safety people, or even Navy leadership, is doing, but the sailors are doing ... the right things,” he said.

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