Military police crack down on traffic regulations
By Pfc. Deanne P. Hurla
| | July 11, 2006
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Depot traffic safety is becoming more important as violations of regulations continue to increase, said Master Sgt. Timothy Jenkins, staff non-commissioned officer in charge, Provost Marshal's Office.
"The most common kind of violation [on Parris Island] is speeding," said Jenkins. "Forty-one percent of all traffic violations for this year have been speeding."
Three major safety issues the Depot Safety Office is concerned with are speeding, seat belts and talking on cell phones, said Capt. David Shealy, Depot safety officer/traffic court magistrate.
"The commander of the installation determines speed limits for each installation," said Shealy. "The speed limit aboard the Depot is twenty-five miles per hour unless otherwise posted, ten miles per hour while passing troops and in parking areas, and fifteen miles per hour in housing and billeting areas."
Drivers and all passengers must wear a seat belt while driving on Parris Island and drivers are not permitted to use cell phones unless it is hands free, said Shealy.
To enforce these laws there must be a form of punishment for violating them. Part of this system is giving points to track repeating offenders.
An offender can build up to 12 points in a year before their license is suspended, said Shealy. One to 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit earns three points and a possible 30-day license suspension; 11 to 15 mph is four points and a possible 60-day license suspension; 16 to 20 mph is five points, and a possible six-month license suspension, plus a mandatory remedial drivers training course and 21 and over is a mandatory one year license suspension and the remedial driver's training course.
"If someone is pulled over and the driver or a passenger is not wearing a seat belt, the driver's license will be suspended for seven days, the driver will get a ticket, which is two points and the driver must complete the remedial driver's training course," said Shealy.
A second offense is an automatic 60-day license suspension and the remedial driver's training course. The third offense is a six-month license suspension and the remedial driver's training course, he added.
According to Shealy, being pulled over for cell phone use is three points.
The big safety issue is accidents.
"Most accidents are people backing into other cars and low speed accidents," said Shealy. "The majority of accidents are due to inattentive driving and visitors who are unfamiliar with the Depot.
"These accidents are usually small, so it is easy to determine who is at fault," he added.
In an effort to reduce traffic violations and accidents aboard the Depot, there are programs designed to educate drivers.
These include a driver's improvement course, which is required for Marines age 26 and under, and a remedial driver's training course for high-risk drivers and those assigned to take the course by the traffic court magistrate.
Ways to prevent accidents and reduce hazards on the Depot are discussed by the Safety/Safe Driving Council, which is made up of Depot leadership.
To reinforce these principals staff non-commissioned officers and officers should be involved with their Marines, making sure vehicles are inspected before long trips and reminding Marines that all traffic violations will follow them in their permanent record, said Shealy.
A Marine can prevent an accident just by applying operational risk management principles while driving aboard the Depot, he concluded.