FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Directorate of Public Safety officials offer some driving safety tips as they urge Fort Rucker residents to take in certain considerations while driving on post.

DPS officials want Fort Rucker drivers to be aware while they are driving through the installation in for their own safety as well as that of others, according to Marcel J. Dumais, DPS Department of the Army Civilian Police chief.

Cellular telephone use while driving is a huge distraction to drivers and is prohibited on Fort Rucker, said Dumais.

"The policy on [Fort Rucker] states that the only way [a driver] can utilize his or her cellular phone while driving is to use a Bluetooth device or other hands-free method that doesn't require [the driver] to manipulate the phone in order to answer the phone call," said the police chief.

If a call must be answered and the driver does not have a hands-free device, Dumais advises that the vehicle be pulled over safely into a parking lot or other safe area and park the vehicle before answering the phone.

"Don't try to kill yourself or put others in danger trying to get off the side of the road to answer your call," he said.

The penalty for driving while on the phone is $55, which Dumais considers a "pretty expensive fine just to answer a phone call."

Even with the recent posting of 42 signs that show no cell phone usage while driving, people continue to use their phones while driving on the installation, he said.

"It's a bigger issue than just phones," said Dumais. "It's distracted driving. Distracted driving causes a lot of accidents and I see it every day.

"Anything that takes your focus off of your driving can and should wait until later.

"Speeding is another main issue we have here on [Fort Rucker], especially in the areas that the speed limit reduces from 45 mph," said the police chief. "A lot of times drivers fail to reduce their speed as the speed limit drops."

The speed limits on Fort Rucker have recently been increased in some areas, according to Dumais. The speed limit in the cantonment areas that used to be 25 mph are now 30 mph.

Speeding fines for going over the speed limit by 10 mph is $100 on Fort Rucker and can be avoided by obeying the posted speed limits, he said, adding, "the speed limits are posted that way for the safety of the drivers.

"The speed at which you drive affects your reaction time," said Dumais. "If you're going too fast then you've shrunk your reaction time considerably, which makes you more likely to be involved in a traffic accident."

Other areas on Fort Rucker that are prone to traffic accidents, due to factors like speeding, are the parking lots of the commissary, the post-exchange and the shoppette.

"We've taken some steps to try and mitigate some of the traffic accidents in the parking lots," said Dumais.

One of those steps was changing the way the parking spots face at the shoppette.

"It's a lot harder to back out of a straight parking spot, so we've angled the parking spots so that it's easier for drivers to pull out," he said. "The commissary and the PX, however, still have some straight parking spots, so we still see a lot of traffic accidents there.

"Although the parking spots are a factor in some traffic accidents, another factor is inattentive driving," said the police chief. "The commissary and PX parking lots are designed with standard size parking spaces like everywhere else; drivers just need to pay attention to details.

"Just be cognizant when driving through the installation, and pay attention and obey the posted signage," said Dumais. "[Police officers] are not out there to be the 'gotcha' people on the road. Our motto is to assist, protect and defend, and we're out there to make sure the roads are safe for the general public."

Page last updated Thu January 19th, 2012 at 09:10