Amid a rise in fatal motor vehicle accidents across the fleet this fiscal year, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro released a message last week imploring sailors to stay safe on the roads.

With about two weeks left until the end of Fiscal Year 2021 on Sept. 30, the Navy has seen 17 four-wheeled private motor vehicle fatalities, up from five in Fiscal 2020, according to Naval Safety Center data.

The safety center also lists 17 motorcycle accidents that killed sailors this fiscal year, up from 11 in 2020.

In his Sept. 8 message to the fleet, Del Toro wrote that he signed six letters of condolence to the survivors of sailors killed in motorcycle accidents during his first three weeks on the job.

“Even one loss of a Sailor or Marine to a motorcycle fatality is too many,” he wrote. “However, the frequency of these fatalities alone underscores the need to aggressively address motorcycle safety.”

Investigations into these motorcycle deaths shows causes ranging from speed, driver distraction and failure to yield, among other factors.

“Riders can mitigate all of these through a more dedicated and proactive application of safety knowledge and individual responsibility,” Del Toro wrote. “Additionally, leadership involvement is imperative to promote rider awareness of, and adherence to, applicable laws and regulations and to stress operating the vehicle within its intended limits.”

The Navy has several training programs and guidelines for sailor motorcyclists.

“A loss of life is tragic, and not only does it negatively impact family and friends, but it degrades our readiness and the continuity and execution of our naval mission,” Del Toro wrote. “Every member of our team is valuable, and we need each and every one of us to achieve our goals.”

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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