MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Traffic accidents are the third leading cause of death in the military, according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Over the past three years, collision and traffic accident numbers have remained steady, said Michael P. Granger, a safety and occupational health specialist with Marine and Family Programs.
“A lot of traffic mishaps occur because of speeding,” said Granger. “We have Marines that don’t know how to drive down roads like [Catfish Lake Road] and unfortunately, accidents happen.”
Rural roads and unimproved roads are common along coastal Carolina. Service members might be tempted to drive recklessly, or less cautiously, when they feel law enforcement is less likely to interfere, according to Granger. Road signs and driver knowledge and safety can go a long way in preventing mishaps, Granger said.
“There isn’t a police officer always sitting behind a bush waiting for you to speed down these roads,” he said. “Add that to the gravel roads and limited road signs and you get individuals thinking they can drive however they want.”
For local Marines and Sailors, use of Catfish Lake Road in Craven and Jones Counties is strictly prohibited for commuting across the Croatan National Forest in accordance with II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations East Order 5100.3. A track record of mishaps and unsafe driving conditions preceded the 2010 order. Catfish Lake Road is closed to service members except for recreational purposes, such as hunting and fishing.
All service members must practice safe driving habits and maintaining situational awareness, according to Granger.
Following driving laws, planning and looking out for dangerous driving conditions help Marine and Sailor arrive alive. “The best way to prevent accidents is practicing safe driving and driving within your limits,” he said. “Always wear a seatbelt, follow all road regulations and be aware of conditions such as weather and roads before you head out.”