Fort Lee law enforcement working to curb vehicle accidents

By Terrance BellFebruary 1, 2023

Fort Lee law enforcement working to curb vehicle accidents
Shown is the T intersection of an unnamed road leading from the commissary to Sisisky Boulevard. More accidents occurred at this location during fiscal year 2022 than any other on the installation, according to the Provost Marshal Office. (photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – Traffic-related accidents here have increased 25 percent over the previous fiscal year, according to a Provost Marshal Office statistical report.

The information also substantiated other traffic problem areas, accident trends and safety concerns around the installation.

The traffic-related data was highlighted during the Garrison Safety and Occupational Health Advisory Council annual meeting. The council includes the Fort Lee garrison commander and command sergeant major, the garrison safety officer and others.

Lieutenant C. Varner, Department of the Army Civilian Police, detailed vehicle accident statistics to advisory council members. After reviewing the data, he concluded most violations point toward carelessness.

“The majority of traffic accidents are minor and occur in parking lots,” said Varner, who has worked in law enforcement 17 years. “If people would pay more attention, not be in a rush, we could decrease traffic accidents dramatically.”

Data comparisons are made when increases occur or law enforcement concerns are identified, said Varner. In Fiscal year 2022, there were 196 reported traffic accidents compared to 156 reported in FY 21.

“These are only reported accidents,” Varner said. “When minor damages result, both drivers often will handle exchanging information and not notify law enforcement. The amount of damage does not matter. We encourage community members to call law enforcement to report accidents.”

Parking lots adjacent to facilities with high commuter traffic have the most reported accidents on the installation, Varner said. They include Kenner Army Health Clinic, the Main Exchange, Army Logistics University’s Heiser Hall and the Holiday Inn Express.

Motorists can employ simple techniques to prevent parking lot mishaps, he added.

“They should honk their horns one or two times in quick succession, look left and right (for vehicles and pedestrians), then slowly ease out of their parking spaces,” he said. “Maintain low speeds when traveling in parking lots. Be observant to pedestrians walking between vehicles.”

The No.1 accident location on the installation is a T intersection where an unnamed road connecting to the commissary parking lot meets Sisisky Boulevard, Varner said. The intersection is a right-turn only onto Sisisky Boulevard adjacent to the exit gate.

Accidents occur there mostly during the second half of the workday when the number of vehicles leaving the installation increase substantially, he said.

“Sisisky is pretty busy for those trying to leave out of the gate,” he added. “Those who are leaving the commissary and main exchange need to be cautious when entering Sisisky Boulevard. Commuters often get inpatient and try to force themselves into traffic without yielding.”

During FY 22, ten accidents were recorded at the commissary road/Sisisky Boulevard intersection, said Varner.

“The bottom line is we have to share the road,” said Varner. “Be courteous to all traffic, be patient, and most important, be safe.”

Also, during his presentation, Varner detailed issues with illegal parking. Parking complaints are a daily challenge for law enforcement.

“Parking availability is not the problem,” said Varner. “The issue is commuters who do not follow parking regulations.”

In areas such as the Holiday Inn Express, adjacent to ALU, law enforcement personnel have written as many as 20 citations a week.

“We have employed extensive efforts to raise awareness to include written citations and the use of parking boots,” said Varner. “We want to remind community members to park in designated parking spaces.”

Violations around the ALU area have included vehicles parked on the end caps of the parking lane, vehicles parked in the grass and vehicles parked within the wood line.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” he said, noting law enforcement is not staffed to concentrate resources in one area. “These parking issues also contribute to the accidents in parking lots.”

The PMO is continuing efforts with key leaders and personnel to reduce parking issues and accidents across the installation, said Varner.

The SOHAC also included information and assessments on other safety issues to include vehicle speeding violations, road closures during physical training hours, dispatched vehicle accidents, radiation reports and personal and on-the-job injuries.