NEWS | Feb. 8, 2012

Focus on safe driving

By Capt. Matthew Foisy 628th Security Forces Squadron

Cell phone distractions, including non-hands free use and texting, continue to be one of the highest contributors to vehicular accidents on roadways each year. Phone texting was the leading cause in more than 3,000 traffic fatalities last year and currently accounts for more than 25 percent of vehicle accidents nationwide.

Recent studies have found more than 37 percent of drivers have received or sent texts while driving and 18 percent do so on a regular basis. More than 52 traffic citations were issued on Joint Base Charleston in 2011 to drivers utilizing cell phones while driving.

Another disturbing trend is the fact that more than 63 percent of people killed in vehicle accidents were not wearing seatbelts, which continues to be the leading contributor to vehicle accident related deaths. More than 30 citations were issued on JB Charleston in 2011 to drivers not utilizing seatbelts.

In South Carolina, the law requires every driver and all occupants of a motor vehicle, when it is being operated on the public streets and highways of this state, to wear a fastened safety belt that complies with all provisions of federal law. Furthermore, Presidential Executive Order 13043 requires each operator and passenger occupying any seating position of a motor vehicle on a Defense installation whose seat is equipped with a seat belt or child restraint system to have the seat belt or child restraint system properly fastened as required by law at all times when the vehicle is in motion.

Presidential Executive Order 13513 directs federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles, when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving or while driving privately owned vehicles when they're on official government business. The JB Charleston Supplement to Air Force Instruction 31-218 Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision further prohibits the use of cellular devices in a non-hands free manor for all personnel driving on the installation. The following are the penalties associated with cell phone and seatbelt violations.

If you are pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt, to include passengers, or if you are stopped for driving while distracted, which includes non-hands free cellular phone use and texting, the following may apply:
- 1st offense: 18 days suspension of base driving privileges
- 2nd offense: 90 days suspension of base driving privileges
- 3rd offense: One year suspension of base driving privileges

The 628th Security Forces Squadron will be ramping up traffic education and enforcement during the coming weeks in an effort to ensure JB Charleston remains a safe environment. These policies are enforceable within all JB Charleston areas of jurisdiction.

For the Air Base, the boundary begins at the edge of Dorchester Rd. prior to entering the Dorchester Gate, and after exiting the Arthur Drive Gate the boundary includes Arthur Drive to the intersection of Aviation Ave.

On the Weapons Station, the boundary begins at the railroad tracks and includes all of Red Bank Rd. and on the south side begins at the edge of Remount Rd. prior to entering the south gate.

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe you have been wrongfully pulled over, there is an appeals process available. The appeals process is the time to argue your case and not when Security Forces have pulled you over on the side of the road.

For any questions in regards to JB Charleston's traffic policy or the appeals process, contact the 628th SFS Reports and Analysis section at 963-3625.