By Col. Dave Hall (USAG-Yongsan)July 28, 2008
Last week, two traffic accidents outside Yongsan Garrison Gate 1 made it crystal clear that our drivers need to understand the potential dangers of disobeying local laws.
These accidents occurred because our drivers attempted to make illegal left turns into Gate 1.
I say "attempted" because both drivers collided with buses. Fortunately, nobody was killed; however, one of these accidents caused injuries to the driver and passenger.
In Korea, left turns across bus lanes are forbidden, unless specifically authorized by a green arrow signal light. The center bus lanes are well marked with red pavement. What's more, buses traveling in these protected lanes are going at full speed. Bus drivers are not expecting cars to shoot out in front of them.
Bottom line: driving in Korea is a privilege. You can just imagine the implications of a traffic accident involving a death. As we are all ambassadors of the United States, we have a responsibility to obey Korean traffic laws. Aside from that, it's the right thing to do.
Both of these recent accidents involved drivers who have been in Korea for less than 30 days. This is an indicator that training and education may have been a factor. I have directed my staff to aggressively pursue an information campaign.
We'll be posting maps at Driver's Education, Camp Kim Pass and Identification Office, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Garage and the USO. You can also download maps with possible legal routes to Camp Kim and back to Yongsan Garrison.
I know that we have many community members living off post. We also have drivers traveling to and from Camp Kim. I understand that not having a legal left-hand turn at either of the sites can be a challenge.
However, and I cannot state that any other way: Do not make illegal left turns into Camp Kim and Yongsan Garrison Gate No. 1.
We are looking at ways to mitigate the threat of serious accidents. I have directed our military police to make random checks at both gates, Camp Kim and Yongsan Gate 1. Drivers who are observed making illegal turns will be identified and their chain of command will be notified.
We are also considering traffic pattern changes to enforce this law.
Leaders and supervisors, counsel your subordinates about this important traffic law. Please help to get the word out.