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Crosswalk safety and the eight-step problem solving model

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
Each of us faces difficulties, challenges and concerns of one sort or another and of varying degrees. Any of these variables changes on any given day, but there are some that don't change. One of my top priorities and concerns is, and has been, the safety of those who live and work at Scott Air Force Base.

One of the safety challenges Team Scott has historically faced is the number of pedestrians being injured by moving vehicles, particularly at the crosswalks on Winter Street, the main thoroughfare between the commissary and the U.S. Transportation Command campus. There is no single cause of these accidents: some are caused by inattentiveness on the part of the pedestrian; some are caused by inattentiveness or even speeding on the part of the driver. We have to do our best to eliminate these types of accidents.

In the interest of crosswalk safety, I have engaged the assistance of the Wing Safety Office, led by Lt. Col. Geoffrey Graze, and that of Mr. Jim Suttles, the 375th Air Mobility Wing's AFSO21 Process Manager. Together, they will put together a team consisting of members of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the U.S. Transportation Command and members from the 375th AMW to develop a solution for reducing vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

The team's task will be to work the problem through to a viable, logical, and ultimately, safe conclusion using the 8-step problem-solving model. My hope is that many of you have received training on the 8-step model. If not, let's do a brief recap:

The first item of business for any team tackling a challenge using the 8-step problem-solving model is to clarify and validate the problem. This step must include the buy-in of every team member. If the team can't agree on a definition of the problem, the hope for an effective solution is nil. Secondly, they have to break down the problem. The team has to gather and review key data, such as: How many accidents occur at the crosswalks on Winter Street vice the number of accidents at other crosswalks on base? What factors are involved in the accidents? Inattentiveness? Speed? Lack of visibility due to the sun? In Step 3, team members will set an improvement target. In this case, obviously, our goal is zero vehicle/pedestrian mishaps. They will set goals that will help us reach the ideal future state of zero mishaps. Next, they will determine the root cause of these accidents. There are a variety of tools they can use to come to the root cause, including brainstorming ideas, using a Pareto Chart and its accompanying affinity diagrams, or by asking "Why?" until they settle on the root cause of this problem.

Steps 5 and 6 involve developing countermeasures and seeing them through. Here, the crosswalk safety team will come up with ideas designed to mitigate the number of accidents, and then in Step 7, they will confirm the results of these countermeasures. In Step 8, the team will standardize their successful countermeasures and train all members of Team Scott so we can eliminate the occurrences of vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

It is my fervent desire that we provide a safe way for people to cross Winter Street. I have every confidence in the team and their ability to find the root cause and establish countermeasures to ensure safe passage from one side to the other, and I have every confidence in the 8-step problem-solving model to help us overcome this serious challenge to Team Scott's safety. I highly encourage your units to use it too when faced with solving difficult problems--you might just be surprised at how effective it can be.