Distracted driving is careless driving

Holloman AFB N.M. --

The 49th Wing Safety Office here recently conducted a two-day driving survey of motorists during peak travel times.

The results were clear. Holloman AFB drivers did not do well.

“The lighting was becoming very poor, since it was around sunset,” said Dan Salinas, 49th Wing Safety Office occupational safety technician. “I crossed the crosswalk on eight occasions, wearing a blue reflective vest, four vehicles did not stop when I was in the crosswalk. Of those four vehicles, in two of the vehicles the driver was talking or texting on their cell phone.”

Anytime a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, both sides of traffic must stop.

The second day wasn’t any better. The lighting in the area was very good, 20 vehicle operators were seen talking or texting on their phones in both directions.

“Vehicle operators can limit distractions by putting their cell phones down, finishing their food before they get into a vehicle, not groom themselves, and they should set the navigation before they begin their journey,” Salinas said. “This is a matter of safety. We want everyone to arrive at their destination safe.”

Distraction.gov defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger the driver, passenger(s), and by-stander safety. 

Here on Holloman AFB the hands free policy is in effect and enforced.

“In 2016, 15 distracted driving tickets were issued to individuals,” said Tech. Sgt. Casey Hill, 49th Security Forces Squadron non-commission officer in charge of integrated defense. “Although these infractions ended in tickets with suspended base driving privileges, they still had the potential for violating safety for other drivers, passengers, and by-standers.”

According to Air Force Instruction 31-218, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, the Hands Free policy is that vehicle operators on a Department of Defense installation and operators of government owned vehicles will not use cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or unless they are using a hands-free device.

“The hands free policy is important due to drivers being distracted when utilizing their cell phones,” Hill said. “Being distracted while driving can cause traffic accidents, injuring and killing motorists and/or pedestrians.”

The wearing of any other portable headphones, earphones, or other listening devices, except for hands-free cellular phones, while operation a motor vehicle is prohibited. Use of those devices impairs driving and masks or prevents recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, the approach of vehicles, and human speech.

“If a Security Forces member is on patrol and witnesses distracted driving, that member has an obligation to pull over that vehicle.” Hill said, “Security Forces will issue a distracted driving ticket with a suspension letter revoking base driving privileges for a minimum five days with a potential maximum of 30 days.”

Increased enforcement has begun, pay attention to the road or your driving privileges will be revoked.