By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 21, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2012) -- The Fort Rucker Provost Marshal's Office and the Directorate of Public Safety will conduct several compliance checkpoints throughout the next few weeks to promote safe driving.
Officers use these checkpoints to monitor driver and vehicle compliance with state law and installation regulations, to ensure the safety of personnel on the installation and educate people on cell phone use and what is considered proper identification, according to Maj. Joshua Munch, Fort Rucker deputy provost marshal.
"We will set up in a specific location on a specific day on the road and stop traffic from both directions. It's not our intent to inconvenience people; we're trying to keep the roadways safe," he said.
The average stop lasts 15-30 seconds and stops will be conducted day and night. Officers will be checking for seatbelts, cell phone usage, proper documentation, as well as looking for anyone who is impaired by alcohol or drugs, according to Staff Sgt. Jacob Deaton, traffic investigations NCO in charge.
"Typically, if [a person] does not have the proper paperwork in the vehicle we will give them a warning, but if there is something that is expired or if we feel like further assessment needs to be made on an individual or a vehicle we will have them pull off the road and see if we need to write a citation or not," he said.
Registration, proof of insurance, a license and military identification (when appropriate) is the proper paperwork that each driver should have in the vehicle at all times, said Deaton.
During the stops, officials suggest people stay calm and not become irritated.
"Please be patient during the checkpoints. Don't become [aggravated] just because we conducted a stop and you feel like you shouldn't have been stopped," said Munch. "If you have an issue during the checkpoint bring them to the station afterward, don't argue with an officer at the site."
"During the checkpoints don't get frustrated with the officer and do not get out of your car. Follow the questions or guidance of the officer and things will go smoothly. Don't be nervous. Just be safe about it," he said.
Lt. Col. Madeline Bondy, provost marshal and director of public safety on Fort Rucker said that drivers may feel like the checkpoints are conducted to meet quotas, which is false.
"We do not have a quota of citations that we have to write weekly, monthly or yearly. That is a common misconception. These checkpoints are to ensure the safety of the road, whether it's from oneself or others," she said.
Bondy said that the checkpoints can be conducted anywhere at any time, and that everyone should be prepared to stop.
"[The checkpoints] can be near the gates or closer to the interior of the installation as opposed to our normal patrols ensuring compliance to laws, rules and regulations," she said.
There are many issues that Bondy said drivers are being careless about, and that Soldiers and Family members should uphold the law not only because it is the law, but for safety.
"Holding your phone in your hand or lap on speaker phone does not constitute hands free -- that is not in compliance with regulations. Seatbelts are also another major concern. People know the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, so there is no excuse," she said.
DPS officials also have a few other concerns.
"We are having problems with people not respecting the appropriate significance to Reveille and Retreat. People should stop their vehicles and get out to show proper respect, whether that be saluting or standing in the direction of the nearest flag," she said.
"Ignorance is not an excuse or defense, so if anyone has questions please call us," she added.
Bondy also wanted to bring attention to pedestrians who may be bringing more danger to themselves than they realize.
She said that, for safety, people cannot wear ear buds on the paths around housing or on sidewalks around post because many people are oblivious to the cars around them.
"Lots of people wear ear buds while on the roadways and sidewalks while they are exercising. There are only three designated paths where wearing ear buds is allowed. They can be worn at the air assault track by the gym on Andrews, and the paths at Beaver and Ech Lake," she said.
The winter months can also cause people to take more medication, and the officers warn people of driving while under the influence of some prescription medications.
"People can get a driving while under the influence citation off of medication or cough syrup. Do not operate heavy machinery on medicine or prescription drugs; a vehicle is a heavy machine. You can get a citation even if your blood alcohol level is below 0.08 percent," said Munch.
The parties that often accompany the holidays can set people up for a citation if someone is transporting alcohol improperly.
"People cannot have a drink open in the car or in their hand. If it is open and within reach of the driver then they can be cited for an open container. The safest bet is to put it in the trunk of the vehicle or inside a cooler in the back seat. Don't let that homemade eggnog in a pitcher sitting in the passenger seat get you in trouble," said the deputy provost marshal.