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Running, riding, driving — are you always thinking?

KEESLER AFB, MISS -- My daily routine starts before the sun comes up. I hit the track or the gym to get a good workout before diving into another busy 81st Training Wing day. Even in the gloom of the early morning I'm not usually alone, as there are usually a few other hearty souls getting a good start to their day as well. 

Just the other morning I ran across an oncoming jogger whose dark running clothes made him nearly invisible. Making a quick U-turn I caught up with him to remind him in the future to make sure he wore the proper gear so he could be seen in the dark. Wear something bright I learned the importance of wearing reflective gear while stationed in the Middle East -- on a dark road near our perimeter, a truck nearly ended my early morning workouts for good. 

Now I'm a lot more careful, wear my reflective "disco belt" and make sure to wear something bright so I can be seen. As an added precaution, I run only on the track, out of traffic. Do you? There's nothing I like better than spicing up my workout by listening to some favorite tunes on my iPod, but there's a time and place for everything. 

A couple of days ago I was driving the "White Top" staff car around base when I saw a runner racing along Chappie James Avenue near the Dragon Fitness Center at a pretty good clip, listening to his iPod. When I slowed and rolled down my window to try chatting with him, wouldn't you know he couldn't hear me, even when I yelled? 

Don't make my mistake I used to be a bonehead, wearing my iPod while jogging, but even if your head swivels or you have eyes in the back of your head, if you can't hear the world around you, you're potentially in for a world of hurt. 

A couple of years ago, while jogging with my iPod, I almost learned the hard way while crossing an intersection. I let a car sneak up on me and nearly ruin my day. Don't make the same mistake. In the weight room the iPod's fine, but it is a bad idea to wear an iPod while running down a public street -- it's also against Air Force Policy. 

That's not all. I was driving home very slowly through base housing after sundown last night when I was nearly hit head-on by two children on bicycles. When they came out of the darkness and into my headlights, my foot on the brake was all that was between them and a trip to the hospital. While they had no lights or reflectors on their bikes or clothing, at least they were wearing helmets. They are great kids and, after we had a little chat, they got on the sidewalk and got home safely. 

Even if you are not a serious cyclist, you need to have lights and reflectors in order to be seen by traffic. If you have children, please make sure they do as well. It's not just people on the street, walking or biking causing safety problems. Getting behind the wheel of a car can be dangerous, especially when you're not paying attention to the rules of the road. Laws are for our safety Just the other day I saw a car coast through a a two-way stop sign, then speed across a busy intersection in front of oncoming traffic. 

As I slowed to turn around, I also noticed this driver all the while was talking away on his cell phone. I never got a chance to point out his lack of safety awareness because one of our security forces cruisers pulled him over. I bet that security forces patrolman got a cramp writing out that ticket trifecta. Traffic laws are in place for our safety, so proceed with caution and stay within the limits. Using a cell phone in a moving vehicle means you don't have both hands on the wheel. 

If you must talk on the phone in your car, either pull over or get a hands-free device. If you talk on a cell phone in a moving vehicle, you'll be ticketed. No exceptions! Situational awareness I'm sure by now you've noticed a trend here. These are all real examples of the kind of dangerous activities I've seen on base when people ignore proper safety precautions. I'm sure you have seen them too. 

Too many injuries and deaths are caused by such thoughtless behavior. You've heard the phrase "Look out for the other guy." If you think about it and take the proper safety precautions, you can avoid being that "other guy." The point I'm trying to make is it all boils down to situational awareness -- good, old-fashioned thinking. 

Be a good neighbor and think about how your behavior affects others. Be a good Airman and think about how you can remain safe and healthy, not only at work but off-duty as well. Safety is something we should all think about. Are you thinking?