JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
It is the summer of 2012 and you got off work a bit early. You get in your car and start to drive home on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon. You roll the windows down, crank up the music, put your foot on the accelerator.
Suddenly, you see flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. You check your speed, and realize you are going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. You are now one of the 647 speeding violations that occurred on Joint Base Charleston Air Base and Weapons Station in 2012.
According to Tech. Sgt. Kerissa Rivas, 628th Security Forces Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of operations, there were 1,672 moving violations and 18 parking violations in 2012. The majority of the tickets, 540 of them, were given out between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m.
The moving violations category covers infractions such as speeding one to 10 mph over the speed limit, to failing to obey traffic signals, signs or traffic instructions from officials. Among those citations, only 157 were active-duty military. The rest of the violations were by Department of Defense personnel, retirees, family members or other personnel.
"Even though these numbers are about average, we're always trying to get them as low as possible," said Rivas. "We take various measures to reinforce the traffic rules on base. It could be putting up speed carts in areas with the highest amounts of pedestrians to show what the drivers' speeds are, or having a patrol car posted on a corner with the lights on just to show a presence in the area."
Although the numbers may seem high, the personnel from the 628th SFS do not set out to give people tickets.
"We don't want to give people tickets," said Rivas. "That's why we take measures like using the speed carts, or having patrol carts take random routes around base. It's a deterrent to show base personnel that we do have a presence here. Our intent is for people to want to obey the traffic rules, whether we are there or not."
The whole point is safety. Obeying the traffic laws helps to maintain safety for the base and its personnel.
"One of our biggest concerns now is drivers operating their vehicles while using their cell phones," said Rivas. "Not only is it a big problem on base, it's a problem off base as well, not to mention a big safety concern. I would argue that driving while texting or operating a cell phone without a hands free device is the new DUI. People need to become more aware and use a Bluetooth device or just not use their phone at all while behind the wheel."
Drivers on base should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings as well as traffic signs. Many of the highly ticketed areas are also high pedestrian or residential areas, so paying attention to your surroundings is important not only for your safety as the driver, but the safety of those around you on and off of the road.