By Mr. Mike Bowers (Leonard Wood)April 16, 2015
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 16, 2015) -- Barriers at the Fort Leonard Wood access control points are meant to keep the bad guys out, but there is danger to all those driving more than the 25 mph posted speed limit.
Active-vehicle barriers are a final protection measure to stop unauthorized entry to the post. They also prevent potential threats from gaining access to populated areas and critical infrastructure on the installation, according to the post's Directorate of Emergency Services.
Even though the posted speed limit decreases to 25 mph before reaching the barriers, traffic surveys at the main gate recorded vehicles exiting at a 45 mph average. The highest speed observed was 76 mph.
Speeding, combined with tailgating, a mixture of inattentive driving and carelessness are a recipe for a potential accident in the case the barriers are deployed, according to DES officials.
"Even though there is plenty of warning to indicate barrier activation, there are only seconds of time before it is deployed," said Sgt. Maj. Jason Ibrom, DES sergeant major.
Warnings of barrier deployment are a combination of overhead and flashing "wigwag" lights, according to Ibrom.
"Warnings won't help, if there are excessive speeds," Ibrom said. "Safety is the main reason for motorists to obey the speed limit signs while approaching the barriers. At 25 mph, the motorist has more time to safely react and stop their vehicle when the barrier is activated."
Ibrom said the 25 mph speed limit lessens the potential for injuries should a motorist strike the barrier.
"The laws of physics apply -- greater speed means greater risk; therefore, the likelihood of bodily injury increases with speed," he added.
The barrier, composed of high-strength aircraft cable, is designed to catch a vehicle and absorb some of the impact, according to Ibrom. Even at 25 mph, Ibrom pointed out that a vehicle hitting the barrier would have considerable to unrepairable damage.
Although never witnessing a vehicle barrier incident, Ibrom said the worst one that he has knowledge of happened at Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 2013. A mixture of illegal activity, high speed and unrestrained passengers left seven of 15 vehicle occupants dead after hitting the barrier, he said.
In addition to safety, a decrease in speed reduces wear and tear on the barrier components; therefore, saving money on maintenance and repairs, Ibrom added.
"We need to obey the speed limits posted at the gates, and throughout the installation," Ibrom said. "As a community, we need to slow down and observe all warning signs, especially those around the barrier zone."