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Roadway safety ensures survivability

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif- Command Chief Master Sgt. Cari Kent of 30th Space Wing stops a random car to ensure each individual is wearing a seat belt during a safety belt inspection at the Santa Maria Gate here Sept. 11. This particular event highlighted the continuing vigilance of wing safety and security forces personnel in enforcing these national and state laws. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ by Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif- Command Chief Master Sgt. Cari Kent of 30th Space Wing stops a random car to ensure each individual is wearing a seat belt during a safety belt inspection at the Santa Maria Gate here Sept. 11. This particular event highlighted the continuing vigilance of wing safety and security forces personnel in enforcing these national and state laws. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ by Airman 1st Class Andrew Lee)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Wing leadership here, including 30th Space Wing commander Col. David Buck, spent a few hours conducting road safety checks on base Sept. 11. 

As part of the checks, the wing commander, along with Col. Steven Winters, 30th SW vice wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Cari Kent, 30th SW command chief, ensured Team V was properly wearing their seatbelts, as well as refraining from the use of cell phone while driving. 

This particular event highlighted the continuing vigilance of wing safety and security forces personnel in enforcing these national and state laws. 

"The check on Sept. 11 wasn't the only one," said Bryan Eiler, 30th SW ground safety manager. "We'll be here, there, everywhere - not only at the gates but at any corner." 

Security forces Airmen are patrolling Vandenberg as well, checking for these violations. They have a few resources at hand with which to punish lawbreakers. First, Airmen or other military members who get pulled over for talking on their cell phone while driving or not wearing a seatbelt will receive a DD Form 1408, the Armed Forces Traffic Ticket. This ticket adds points toward losing on-base driving privileges -four for seatbelt violations, three for cell phone violations, with 12 points in 12 months meaning the revocation of those privileges. On top of that, Airman who received the ticket must present the ticket to their first sergeant or commander within 24 hours. The Airman's leadership in turn doles out whatever punishment they deem fitting. 

As for civilian's who violate traffic laws, they will receive a DD Form 1805, a U.S. District Court violation notice. For seatbelt violations, this includes a $20 fine and a $25 processing fee, as well as the four points toward on-base driving privilege revocation. For driving while on a cell phone, it's an $80 fine with a $25 processing fee, as well as three points. 

The cell phone law went into effect in California as of July 1, with drivers over 18 years old able to use a hands-free device and those under 18 unable to use a cell phone while driving at all. Unfortunately, some people are still learning how deal with it and not everyone is doing this correctly, said Tech. Sgt. Jason Holland, the 30th Security Forces Squadron police services NCO in charge. One example is using speaker phone in place of holding the phone up to the driver's own ear. 

"That's not considered a hands-free device," Sergeant Holland said. "Also, pulling over to the side of the road is another safety issue." 

Some people just pull off the road to use their cell phone, he said. This creates a hazard, however, since people may have to go around them. Correct actions include pulling into a parking lot and stopping to talk, using a hands-free device, or, more ideally, just not using a cell phone in the car at all. 

"A cell phone is a distraction," Mr. Eiler said. "While driving, you want to be focused and alert so you can be ready for whatever comes. If you're on a cell phone, even if you're on a hands-free, you can still be distracted." 

Sergeant Holland illustrated this point. 

"Have you ever been driving down the road and someone swerved into your lane, and you looked at them, and their talking on their cell phone?" he asked. "They're not focusing on the road - they're focusing on the phone call versus how fast they're going or their surroundings." 

It's these safety reasons that wing leadership, as well as base safety and security forces, are focusing on reducing traffic violations. 

"This is about personal safety," Mr. Eiler said. "We just want to increase the chance of survivability if someone is involved in an incident."