By Sgt. Kyle Fisch, USASOC Public AffairsOctober 19, 2016
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Many people have seen the graphic commercials on TV depicting a young teen or adult texting or perhaps changing the radio station and in a split second, there's glass everywhere, the car is tumbling along the side of the road and chaos ensues.
The intent of these messages is usually to convey the drastic consequences entailed while driving distracted, distressed or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While many of these incidents don't always end in fatalities, the repercussions can still leave lasting impressions on people's lives or careers.
"Depending upon the violation, commanders can recommend to the garrison commander that a Soldier's on-post driving privileges be suspended for a prescribed time frame," said Powell T. Parks, U.S. Army Special Operations Command safety director. "Any felonious traffic violation will require the Soldier to attend mandatory classes. A DUI/DWI conviction can have an adverse effect on a Soldier's career in the Army."
According to the USASOC Chief of Staff Col. Richard E. Angle, traffic violations on the installation are presenting concerning trends.
"Speeding, traffic violations, and motor vehicle accidents are increasing on Fort Bragg at an alarming rate. The number of speeding violations has gone from 584 in 2nd quarter FY (Fiscal year) 16 to 1355 in the 3rd quarter," Angle said.
The situation was worrisome enough to warrant a bulletin released by the USASOC Safety Office which stated that; "In response to this increase in speeding violations and traffic accidents, the Fort Bragg Provost Marshall's Office (PMO) is training and certifying 92 additional military law enforcement personnel in radar use."
The bulletin also informed that; "On 1 September the installation instituted a more robust mandatory Driver's Improvement Program for any Soldier who receives ticket on Fort Bragg, Simmons Army Airfield, Camp Mackall, Pope Field, or Linden Oaks housing area for speeding (15 mph over the posted limit), an at-fault traffic accident, or failing to stop at a traffic control device. Failure to complete this program will result in the loss of on-post driving privileges."
There are many roadways on the installation that have been temporarily closed due to construction in these areas, as the installation continues its efforts to improve roads and facilities for the on-post community, but it doesn't give drivers on the installation a reason to speed and make up for lost time.
"Traffic congestion on Fort Bragg and surrounding communities is always an issue even with all roadways open and operational," Parks said. "Whenever a major roadway such as Reilly Road or Knox Street is closed due to repairs or construction projects, it pushes the traffic normally utilizing these routes on to other roadways which increases the likelihood of a traffic accident on an already crowded thoroughfare."
"If possible, vary your travel times to avoid the heavier traffic of morning, lunch, and evening rush hours. If you are forced to travel on the crowded primary roadways along with everyone else, give yourself some extra time to reach your destination. Take a deep breath and slow down; avoid tailgating and abrupt lane changes trying to get ahead of everyone else. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid texting or talking on your cell phone," Parks continued.
Drivers on the installation must always remember, when they are behind the wheel, it isn't just themselves and their passenger's safety they must consider. The lives of others may also be affected by the decisions of a single driver.
"Soldiers operating a motor vehicle should act as responsible behind the wheel as they are behind a gun. Poor decision making while operating a motor vehicle can result in far-reaching and life-long consequences," Parks advises. "As always, drive defensively and watch out for the other guy. Don't depend on other drivers to see you in time or make the right decisions in an emergency situation."
At the end of the day, the wish of leadership on the installation is to ensure that every person gets home safely.
"We need your assistance to address this issue," Angle remarked. "Get the word out: plan ahead, slow down, and drive sensibly."