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Home : Safety Promotions : News
NEWS | July 20, 2023

NAVSAFECOM Hosts Joint Safety Council Meeting

By Rebecca Coleman, Naval Safety Command Safety Promotions

In the early afternoon on Dec. 11, 2022, in Petronila, Texas, a 25-year-old Marine lieutenant crashed their motorcycle and was pronounced deceased on site.

Two months later, on Feb. 10, 2023, during the early evening hours in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a Navy petty officer first class motorcyclist struck the rear of a vehicle. Bystanders attempted lifesaving measures but were unsuccessful. The rider was pronounced deceased at the scene.

These are only two of more than 55 motorcycle-related fatalities the armed services have experienced so far this fiscal year. What can we do to reduce these mishaps and prevent further loss of our most valued resource – our people? It is a question that is foremost in the minds of the Joint Safety Council.

By sharing and facilitating interservice lessons learned and best practices, the JSC is addressing not only motor vehicle mishaps, but other safety-related issues across aviation, afloat and ground operations.

The Naval Safety Command hosted the JSC’s quarterly meeting, on July 6-7. The council is comprised of representatives from all the armed services, including the National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and its newest member, the National Safety Council.

The JSC stood up in August 2022, with the Department of the Air Force Chief of Safety, Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, leading the council. The council integrates with the Department of Defense’s existing safety governance process, providing a conduit to elevate operational safety recommendations to senior DoD leadership.

Leavitt noted this was her last meeting as chair and that Rear Adm. Christopher Engdahl, NAVSAFECOM commander, will now lead the JSC.

The general acknowledged the ongoing challenge to reduce and prevent private motor vehicle mishaps, specifically PMV-4 (cars and trucks) and PMV-2 (motorcycles), across the services, but noted how data analysis can play a crucial role.

Engdahl provided an overview of the command’s data analysis capabilities (modeling) program, demonstrating the ability to differentiate between units exhibiting traits of previous mishap and non-mishap units.

“I’m really excited to see how the Naval Safety Command is leading the way in data analytics,” Leavitt said. “We have a lot of data, and we’re beginning to standardize it, which will open up new opportunities. Now, we need to identify leading indicators in order to prevent future mishaps.”

To aid in this effort, the council is forming a data analysis working group, which will further facilitate interservice analytical initiatives and create synergy through collaboration, resolve common issues and share methodologies, data findings, mitigation efforts and recommend initiatives and studies to the JSC.

If incidents start to trend negatively, Leavitt said it will be necessary to identify leading indicators and act accordingly to prevent future mishaps. Developing methods to identify these indicators will be one of the working group’s first tasks to address.

“We see that seatbelts are a concern – people are not wearing them,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO.

What are the other leading indicators in PMV mishaps – is it speed, complacency, distractions, or lack of safety equipment?

The JSC hopes to answer these questions by analyzing motor vehicle data gathered from the services.

The council had a full agenda, including a review of the services’ recent mishaps and a briefing on a proposed DoD-wide motorcycle mentorship program, with beta testing scheduled for August 2023 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Including external agencies, such as the NSC, adds a different perspective and helps the council realize that safety concerns, such as motor vehicle mishaps, are felt nationwide, too.

“We are all very interested in learning from our safety teammates and sharing lessons learned that our members bring to the table,” said Leavitt.

Engdahl reiterated Leavitt’s position on the JSC’s way ahead. “We will continue to get better at sharing lessons learned from NAVSAFECOM and the other services,” he said. “The move toward incorporating data analysis and standardizing our data amongst the Services is just one of the steps the council is taking to ensure our forces remain ready, relevant and safe.”