By STEVE REEVES, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 28, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- As more states are beginning to crack down on cell phone use and texting while driving, Fort Jackson officials want to remind everyone that using anything but a true hands-free device on post is against regulations.
A true hands-free device is one that you never have to touch in order to place a call.
"By law you're supposed to have both hands on the steering wheel when you're driving," said Col. Ronald Taylor, Fort Jackson's provost marshal. "If your hands have to leave the steering wheel to activate the device, then it is illegal to use on the installation."
Fort Jackson police officers are increasing their vigilance for dangerous driver behavior such as using cell phones behind the wheel. This comes at a time when 23 states are debating legislation to ban texting while driving, a practice 19 states already prohibit.
Nearly 200 legislative bills concerning various forms of distracted driving, including texting, are being debated in 34 states.
The Department of Transportation says 5,870 people - 16 percent of all highway fatalities - died in distracted-driving crashes and 515,000 were injured in 2008.
"Cell phone use is the new DUI," Taylor said. "More and more accidents are being caused by cell phones use and texting while driving."
Taylor said drivers coming on to Fort Jackson should be aware that the installation's boundaries begin at the fence line, not at the gates to the post. Though it varies with each gate, a good rule of thumb is that Fort Jackson police jurisdiction begins approximately 100 yards before each gate entrance.
"That means you can't just drive up to the gate, put down your phone and you're OK," Taylor said. "We have the responsibility of enforcing regulations on all of Fort Jackson property."
Taylor also said people should remember that regulations prohibit the use of a government-issued cell phone or communications device while behind the wheel of a government vehicle or privately owned vehicle at any time - even off post.
"Pull over if you have to talk on your cell phone or send a text message," Taylor said. "If you're driving, just drive."