Leaders at White Sands Missile Range are concerned that the number of vehicle accidents at WSMR have gone up in the last year.
With a recent increase in GOV accidents, WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin is urging the workforce to take action and better care of GOVs when on official use.
“We have damaged government vehicles due to inattentive driving. You need to treat the government vehicles as you would treat your own,” Coffin said during the last town hall.
At the town hall, Coffin presented a slide with information on five GOV accidents that occurred within an 11 day period. Coffin said he has never damaged his own privately owned vehicle because of the amount of care and concern he puts in it and he expects the workforce to do the same with a GOV.
According to Army Regulation 58-1, misuse or negligence of a government owned vehicle can lead to no less than a one month suspension without pay. The regulation also states that a government employee may be suspended for a longer period if the circumstances warrant it.
A Transportation Standard of Operations document provided by Karin Murray, White Sands Missile Range supervisory transportation operation specialist, states that when an accident or a mechanical breakdown occurs in excess of $100, the organization is financially responsible for the damages to the GOV.
“If you don’t follow the rules it could end up costing your organization money,” Murray said.
“In my view, I have to agree with General Coffin,” said WSMR Installation Safety and Nuclear Surety Director Randy Grunow.
Grunow said he also suspects one of the problems, in the current rising number of accidents, may be that government drivers are not be accustomed to the type of GOV they drive. In some instances the GOV may be larger and more powerful than their POV.
“Understanding you’re in a different type of vehicle will help. Just knowing the size of the vehicle and its capabilities,” Grunow said.
When driving a vehicle that you are not accustomed to, Grunow said situational awareness is very important. The most common accidents, according to Grunow, occur when GOVs pass through gates or hit objects. Though, in some situations, the object may be hidden in foliage, it is up to the driver to survey the surrounding area beforehand.
In other instances, Grunow said he has seen government vehicles that have been left on the side of the road with heavy vegetation surrounding it. On one occasion, due to the high heat that WSMR’s known for, the vehicle’s catalytic converter caught fire and created a large fire in the surrounding area.
“Always be aware of your surroundings,” Grunow said.
A practice Grunow said they have implemented in their office is the use of an orange cone when a GOV is not in use. The cone is placed on the floor near the rear of the vehicle and the cone must be removed before driving. The removal of the cone allows for the driver to conduct a walk around of the GOV before driving. Another good practice Grunow asks his organization to follow is to use your co-pilot as an extra set of eyes while on the road.
Murray is well versed on government driver’s responsibilities and information the driver’s should be aware of before driving a government vehicle. According to the standard of operations, drivers are responsible for ensuring that the government vehicle will only be used for official use. Official use can only be defined as a location where an employee’s presence is required for official business.
“Don’t misappropriate a government vehicle,” Murray said.
Items like headphones, and cell phones are not allowed to be used when driving a GOV. Government drivers are also not allowed to smoke in a GOV. A driver must also have proof of licensing and have taken required training before driving a GOV. A driver must also comply with WSMR, state, and local traffic regulations. These are just three of over eight guidelines government drivers must follow when driving a government vehicle.
“These guidelines are all important,” Murray said.
To revisit the Off Road Driving video, visit https://intranet.wsmr.army.mil/amteas/
To learn more about proper government vehicle use, visit Army Regulation 385-10, the Army Safety Program, and Army Regulations 58-1, Management, Acquisition, and Use of Motor Vehicles.