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Sheppard traffic safety campaign underway
Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Walker conducts a traffic stop on August 2nd, 2012, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The 82d Security Forces Squadron is conducting a traffic safety campaign throughout the month of August, focusing on distracted driving. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Danny Webb)
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Sheppard traffic safety campaign underway

Posted 8/7/2012   Updated 8/7/2012 Email story   Print story


by Danny Webb
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

8/7/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Driving while distracted can have deadly consequences. That's why the 82nd Security Forces Squadron is initiating a traffic safety campaign throughout August to help curb the use of cell phones and other distractions while driving on the installation.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2011 Texas data, more than 81,000 crashes in the state involved distraction in a vehicle, driver inattention or cell-phone use; 361 of these crashes were fatal.

"Enforcement will occur at various times and locations throughout the installation," said Chief Master Sgt. Laura Klaczyk, 82nd SFS manager. "Several of the infractions we are focused on include speeding, seat belt and child safety seat usage, using cell phones without a hands-free device and making full and complete stops at stops signs/traffic lights."

Klaczyk also noted it's important to remember personnel can be cited at any time for any traffic infraction.

The NHTSA estimates there are at least 3,000 deaths annually from distraction-affected crashes--crashes in which drivers lost focus on the safe control of their vehicles due to manual, visual or cognitive distraction.

"It is against AFI 31-218, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, to operate a motor vehicle while utilizing a cell phone without a hands-free device," said Klaczyk. "This includes any use of the cell phone, such as texting, using the internet or using the cell phone as a speakerphone."

The policy is applicable while operating a privately owned vehicle on any military installation and at any time while operating government vehicles. Additionally, while not an infraction, it is recommended that other distracted driving behaviors, such as eating, drinking, and operating radios/CD players/global positioning systems only be done when the vehicle is safely parked.

Among the worst driver distractions is texting.  Studies from NHTSA show that texting simultaneously involves manual, visual and mental distraction, splitting the senses and causing the driver to try and focus on both the road and the phone at the same time.  A look at observational surveys shows more than 100,000 drivers are texting at any given daylight moment, with more than 600,000 drivers holding phones to their ears while driving.

"Traffic citation penalties for non-military personnel can include monetary fines or appearance in federal magistrate court; traffic citations for military personnel are routed to the appropriate unit commander for administrative or disciplinary action," Klaczyk said. "In addition, traffic citations will incur points towards suspension of on-base driving privileges."

The points vary depending on the infraction, but acquiring 12 traffic points within 12 consecutive months or 18 traffic points within 24 consecutive months will result in the suspension of base driving privileges. 

With the large amount of pedestrian traffic at Sheppard AFB, vehicle operators must remain vigilant, watch their speed, stop fully and eliminate any distracted driving behaviors.

For more information, please contact the 82nd Security Forces Squadron Police Services section at 676-1692.

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