Spring means sunshine, blossoms, safety concerns
Col. Deborah Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Commander's Message
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Spring has officially sprung and evidence of heightened activity is everywhere. As more people venture outside to enjoy the warmer temperatures, safety is paramount.

Three weeks into daylight saving time, it's still fairly dark in the early morning hours. The later sunrise means visibility is severely limited, affecting not only individuals getting their early-morning exercise, but also children at bus stops, individuals walking to their office from the MARTA station and countless others.

The military community is physically active, not only its military members, but its Family members and Civilian employees often look to walking and running as primary forms of fitness training. And children who have been cooped up over the winter months are teeming with energy as they hit post playgrounds or their housing area yards.

It is the responsibility not only the individuals enjoying the outdoors, but also drivers, lawn mower operators and others to be alert to safety issues. Fort McPherson Regulation 210-5 (Installation Regulation, Policy, and Procedures) provides very specific policy about running, jogging and walking on the installation to ensure the athletes' well-being.

For example, the regulation states runners, joggers and walkers must utilize sidewalks when available. When sidewalks are unavailable, runners, joggers and walkers must run or walk facing oncoming traffic and cross roadways at marked crosswalks. If crossing roadways at unmarked areas, they must yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles. Runners, joggers and walkers will not run, jog or walk more than three abreast and will go to single file as vehicles approach. The regulation also directs that during periods of limited visibility, runners, joggers or walkers must wear bright, fluorescent or reflective personal protective equipment, such as reflective belts or vests.

Also, the use of headphones or earphones while walking, jogging, skating or bicycling on installation roads and streets is prohibited. There are also off-limits areas for exercise. On Fort McPherson, Cobb Street is off limits to groups or units exercising from 6:30 until 8 a.m. and from 3:30 until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Colquitt Street is off limits to nonresident exercisers at all times. Running on golf course/cart paths is prohibited.

On Fort Gillem, jogging or exercising along Hood Avenue is prohibited. Additionally, due to the heavy volume of commercial, multiwheeled vehicles, jogging or exercising between warehouses is also prohibited.

The installation's perimeter road, which is off limits to vehicular traffic, is a suitable substitute. The abandoned airstrip is off limits to jogging/exercising and vehicle traffic.

In addition to exercising, pedestrians are out and about for a variety of reasons, whether to save fuel costs by walking, rather than driving, to services or appointments or just to "recharge their solar batteries."

While their level of physical activity may be more docile than those individuals who are running and jogging, there are safety rules of the road for them, too. For example, pedestrians are required to obey all traffic control devices, unless directed otherwise by a police officer. And while pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks, individuals crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk must yield to vehicles.

Whether at a crosswalk or not, pedestrians should be careful not to leave a curb or place of safety to walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impractical or unsafe for the vehicle to yield.

Where sidewalks are provided, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on the roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians can walk only on the left side of the road, toward approaching traffic, and must yield to all traffic on the roadway. Drivers, of course, share the responsibility for safety.

For this reason, not to mention the legal ones, it's important for drivers to follow posted speed limits.

Also, vehicle operators on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem are prohibited from using cell phones, including text messaging, unless the vehicle is safely parked or the operator is using a hands-free device. The wearing of portable headphones, earphones or other listening devices (except for hands-free cellular phones) while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. Vehicle operators who use cell phones while driving will be issued a citation. After the second citation, the driver's on-post driving privileges will be suspended for 30 days. The cell phone policy applies not only to the operators of personally owned vehicles, but also to government-owned vehicle operators.

Finally, while it is post policy and common sense for children not to play in roadways, children can be unpredictable and fast. It is important parents and care-givers stay alert as children play outside and vehicle operators be even more conscientious of their speed and surroundings near housing areas, the day care center and school bus stops. The spring season is a wish we made several times over the winter, particularly during our ice and snow storm. Now that it's here, let's enjoy the season, safely.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16