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Wittman, Brown Introduce Pilot Program to Improve Military Tactical Vehicle Safety

Authorizes the use of data recorders to improve the safety of military tactical vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Congressman Rob Wittman (R–Va.) introduced the 1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell Safety in Armed Forces Equipment Act of 2021 to establish a pilot program that authorizes the use of data recorders, or “black boxes,” to improve the safety and effectiveness of military tactical vehicles.

In 2019, lawmakers requested a study on non-combat deaths involving tactical vehicles after increasing reports of tactical vehicle rollover accidents, including the tragic death of Marine 1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell at Camp Pendleton. In July 2021, the GAO published its report finding 123 soldiers and marines lost their lives along with over 300 accidents that resulted in permanent total disability or damages, from 2010 to 2019.

This pilot program’s data recording would help supervisors enhance tactical vehicle safety and develop performance criteria and measurable standards for driver training programs.

“Though the profession of arms will always be accompanied by some inherent dangers, we should do our utmost to minimize the risks faced by our men and women in uniform. Preventable accidents are just that- preventable,” said Congressman Wittman. “By equipping tactical vehicles with black boxes capable of recording key datapoints, we give Army and Marine Corps commanders the data they need to better inform their decision-making processes and training in order to prevent future tactical vehicle accidents.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure the young men and women who wear the uniform are properly trained and supervised to avoid preventable accidents. It’s clear the Army and Marine Corps have deficiencies in mitigating these tactical vehicle accidents, which are also an early indication of a gap in readiness,” said Congressman Brown. “Through better data collection and promoting a culture of safety within the Department we can help save lives and avoid future, heartbreaking tragedies. These added safety measures are common sense and necessary to the training and safety of our young service members.”

The 1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell Safety in Armed Forces Equipment Act of 2021 would:

  • Establish the installation and maintenance of a data recorder on Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicles
  • Enable the identification of near-miss accidents and automated potential hazards that would otherwise go undetected, creating a safer environment and more ready force.
  • Incorporate assessments of individual driver proficiency to allow for tailored training to ensure our service members are ready for their missions.
  • Establish a database with telemetry data, driver data, and event data for more consistent implementation of safety programs across installations and units.
Require installation commanders to incorporate the actionable data sets and statistics into safety programs.