FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- People fulfilling their need for speed while driving on post may find themselves in need of a pay raise to pay for the resulting costs associated with getting a ticket on post.
And while the costs of the ticket, the processing fees and the inevitable increase in insurance premiums do add up, building the government’s coffers isn’t why Fort Rucker law enforcement officials are cracking down on speeders – it’s to keep the community safe, said Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker chief of police.
“The speed limits on post are set as they are for a reason,” the police chief said. “It has to do with how the roads are on post -- it’s for safety. The area around the new Parker Elementary School has seen an increase in speeding, as well as drivers not stopping at stop signs. We’re just trying to keep the installation safe for everyone.”
With so many children on the post, especially in the housing areas and around the schools, along with U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence student formations, the numerous crosswalks and the general pedestrian traffic associated with a busy Army installation, drivers obeying the speed limit and keeping their attention on the road is vital to keeping the people of Fort Rucker safe – possibly saving a few seconds on a commute isn’t worth putting people’s lives at risk, Dumais said.
“Please pay particular attention in the housing areas and school zone,” he added. “The children may not know any better, so when they’re chasing a ball into the street in the housing area or crossing with their bike at the school, drivers need to exercise extreme caution. If we’re obeying the 20 mph speed limits, it allows us that response zone, if you will, so we’re not hitting children.”
And another consideration are the roads on post – they’re just not made for some of the speeds law enforcement officers are seeing people doing, Dumais added.
“We don’t have a highway on post, but we have seen some speeds on radar that are at those highway levels of speed,” he said.
Fort Rucker has a speed limit of 30 mph in most areas of the post, but the limit decreases to 20 mph in the housing areas and 10 mph in parking lots. The speed limit increases to 40 mph on the long stretches of outer roads to places like the Ozark, Faulkner and Newton gates, Dumais said.
“We’ve seen speeds in excess of 70-75 mph (on those roads),” the police chief said. “And we do get quite a few 20 overs on the installation also. Where that becomes a problem is our road network is not built for those types of speed, so there is a hazard associated with that.”
He added that some people’s “lead foot” takes over on these long stretches, but those roads are narrow, the trees come up close to the roadways and curbs are sometimes very close to the driving areas.
“We’re concerned about that because if there ever is an accident associated with those speeds it could be catastrophic,” Dumais said. “We’ve been extremely lucky that we have not had any real serious accidents where there was loss of life. Most accidents on installation are in the parking lots or in the cantonment area on the surface streets where speeds are slow and impacts are minimal – there’s property damage, but very rarely are there injuries. Again, for people, their vehicles, their insurance – everything is going to be impacted by that. And even a small amount of damage on a vehicle these days you’re probably talking $1,500-$2,000 cost to fix something minor.”
Even though law enforcement is increasing its efforts to nab lawbreakers on the roads lately, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an epidemic of speeding on post, the chief said.
“There’s always speeding on Fort Rucker, or if you look at local municipalities there’s a certain amount of speeding that happens every day,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen a spike in speeding on the installation, there’s just a consistent amount of speeding, but we are trying to get after it with some of our radar ops on installation – we need people to slow down.”
On top of slowing down, Dumais reminds people not to use radar detectors on post, as it is against Department of Defense policy and people will be ticketed for using the devices.
But his main warning is for those looking to fulfill that need for speed.
“DPS will have all available assets out on the installation running radar and looking for other traffic violations to slow drivers down and ensure the driving public’s safety,” he said. “There are a lot of potential sensors out there on the installation and I would just ask you to obey the rules.
“A traffic law is just like an Army standard,” Dumais added. “There are standards for a reason, and there are laws that we have to follow as far as traffic laws are concerned for public safety. I ask people to just adhere to those.”