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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell has directed the military community to review safe-driving procedures and re-emphasize safety lessons following two recent fatal traffic accidents.

“These accidents concern me greatly and we all must make every reasonable effort to prevent similar tragedies,” Bell wrote in an April 20 safety alert message. Bell also serves as commander of the United Nations Command and of the Combined Forces Command.

While both accidents are under investigation, Bell wrote, it’s important to “review safe driving procedures now and reemphasize safety lessons learned from similar tragedies in the past.”

On April 14, a U.S. contractor struck and killed a South Korean man in a traffic accident, officials said. And on April 19, a U.S. Army captain driving to work hit and killed a South Korean man sitting in the middle of a street near Yongsan Garrison, according to 8th Army officials.

In his message, Bell highlighted the following points:

“Driving in Korea can be extremely hazardous. Challenges include congested highways, aggressive driving, speeding, narrow roadways, reduced visibility, pedestrians and cultural driving practices. To ensure we set conditions for success, it is important for each of us to understand the unique driving challenges in Korea and drive very defensively.“Speed limits are based on risks identified by authorities responsible for roads. These limits are lower in certain areas because of risks that are often not immediately obvious to drivers. Vehicle operators must operate within posted speed limits and adjust speed based on environment and road conditions.

“On every road in Korea, you can expect to find pedestrians. Traditionally, many pedestrians have felt they have as much right to use of the roads as vehicular traffic, and therefore may expect vehicles to yield to them. This behavior creates a real hazard for drivers. It is essential to reduce speeds and be very alert when driving near pedestrian walks or recreation areas, especially where children may be present. Many Korean children have the preconceived notion that by raising their arms a vehicle will stop to allow them to cross the street.”“To reduce risks during periods of low visibility, drivers must reduce their speed and not out-drive their headlights. Keep your vehicle equipment functional, windshields and headlights clean, and do not be afraid to pull over with your hazard lights on if your visibility becomes too jeopardized. It is not only your life, but the lives of other people on the road that are at risk. USFK (Pamphlet) 385-2 and USFK (Pamphlet) 385-3 provide more information on driving safely.”“Our Under the Oak Tree counseling approaches are just as valid for family members as they are for servicemembers. Sponsors should consider adopting a similar risk-identification and management program for their families.”Any accident can potentially have an impact on “our own lives and the lives of others tragically,” Bell wrote, stressing that commanders ensure everyone is aware of and follows traffic laws.

“Additionally, while operating motor vehicles, our conduct can have a strategic impact on our relationship with our Korean ally,” he wrote.


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