FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The active vehicle barriers at Fort Leonard Wood’s access control points can rise into place in seconds, which is ideal for stopping potential threats from entering the installation.
But for distracted drivers — or those not adhering to the 25 mph posted speed limit at the gate exits — those barriers can be decidedly not ideal. Speeding, tailgating, inattentive driving and carelessness are a recipe for a potential accident if the barriers are deployed, said Don Busbice, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood Safety Office director.
Busbice said a typical driver’s reaction time to perceive and act on a threat such as barrier activation, wildlife or a child running into the road is about 1.5 seconds. Traveling at 25 mph — or, roughly, 37 feet per second — provides the required time needed to avoid a collision at the gates.
There is another safety-related reason to consider slowing down for the active barriers as well, Busbice added — less speed means less potential for injuries if a driver does strike a barrier.
“The laws of physics apply here,” he said. “Greater speed means greater risk of bodily injury in a crash.”
The barriers are composed of high-strength aircraft cable, and are designed to catch a vehicle and absorb some of the impact, but even at 25 mph, a vehicle hitting the barriers would have considerable to unrepairable damage, said Lt. Aric Freed, Directorate of Emergency Services Accident Investigations supervisor. And even though an imminent barrier deployment includes a combination of overhead and flashing “wig-wag” lights, warnings won’t help a speeding or distracted driver.
“If you’re exceeding the speed limit or not paying full attention to driving, you won’t have enough time or distance to safely stop,” Freed said.
Any driver who does hit the active barriers due to negligence can expect to be held liable for the collision and be responsible for the damages to both their vehicle and the barrier, Freed added.
In addition to safety and legal reasons, a decrease in speed reduces wear and tear on the barrier components, which cuts down on maintenance and repair costs, Freed said.
“We regularly see vehicles traveling at excessive speeds in the gate areas, and we are doing additional enforcement to help prevent accidents on the installation,” Freed said. “Do the right thing, slow down, pay attention and help keep our community safe.”