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No need for speed
Senior Airman Brandon Aguirre (foreground) and Airman 1st Class Hans Castillo, patrollers with the 10th Security Forces Squadron, monitor drivers on South Gate Boulevard Sept. 26. Getting caught speeding on Academy grounds can be costly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Carol Lawrence)
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No need for speed

Posted 10/5/2012   Updated 10/5/2012 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Vann Miller
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

10/5/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Driving on the Academy in the morning may have become more congested, but that's no reason to get caught driving over the speed limit, according to one base official.

Lately, speeding has become more of a problem, according to Master Sgt. Ryan Tanner, 10th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent. This is primarily due to the change in the Air Academy High School hours.

"This small 30 minute change has essentially forced both school and normal morning traffic to the South Gate at the same time," Tanner said. "The significant backups may delay some individuals who then choose to speed to get to their destinations on-time."

Security Forces are being proactive in focused patrolling, Tanner said. Basic tactics like speed enforcement and ticket writing, are just some of the tools used by patrollers in high traffic or populated areas.

Civilians ticketed on base for moving violations will receive a violation notice Form 1805, according to the base judge advocate office.

Though the recipient has the option to contest the violation, this is handled through the federal magistrate system. Uncontested notices have monetary penalties and are paid to the Colorado Springs Magistrate Court.

Under the Colorado Revised Statutes, many of the more severe offenses such as DUIs or reckless driving typically require a mandatory court summons.

Examples of the fines drivers may encounter for speeding are as follows: 10-19 miles per hour over the posted speed limit can result in a fine of $135; while driving more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit would result in a mandatory court summons, according to Tanner.

Active-duty members, reservists on active-duty orders and civilians driving government owned vehicles are issued an armed forces traffic ticket for moving violations. The Defense Department Form 1408 does not impose a monetary fine but levies points against on-base driving privileges, according to the legal office.

"Speeding is not worth the risk," said Scott McLauthlin, an attorney with the Academy legal office. "In addition to putting yourself and others at risk by speeding by disregarding traffic rules, the Air Force has a system in place which holds both civilians and military members responsible for their actions."

Civilians who are military dependents will be responsible for notifying their sponsor of their speeding violation. The sponsors must then report the incident to their commander or supervisor, McLauthlin said.

Under the discretion of the installation commander, on base driving privileges may be suspended.

"Driving on base is a privilege," McLauthlin said. "If your privileges are suspended you may not drive your car anywhere on the installation." Service members are also subject to administrative actions, such as a letter of counseling, letter of admonishment or letter of reprimand.

"Though driving the speed limit may feel slow at times, imagine how slow it will feel if you actually have to walk," McLauthlin added.

Statistically, speeding is one of the leading factors in automobile crashes: It contributes to approximately 31 percent of all fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's why the safety office encourages everyone on base to drive safely.

"The probability of injury and the severity of those injuries increases -- not linearly, but exponentially -- with vehicle speed," said Clifford Tebbe, deputy director of the Academy Safety Office. "And speeding is not just driving faster than the posted speed limit. It is also driving too fast for conditions."

Safety personnel point out that driving on the Academy is a unique experience with vistas and conditions that many bases may not have.

The open stretches of road offering less congestion in many areas, and relatively higher speeds can lull people into complacency as it relates to driving, Tebbe said.

But Academy roads also have hazards such as wildlife, visiting hikers and bicyclists and some narrow and winding roads.

Another factor that speeding affects is a driver's reaction time. Drivers may notice the posted speed limits drastically decrease near the pop -up barriers at the north and south gates. According to the safety office, the 25 mph speed limit at the barriers is critical to occupant protection.

"If the barriers had to be activated, striking the barrier at speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour greatly increases the potential for occupant injury," Tebbe said. "Gates are areas of congestion and activity; the gate guards may be diverting unauthorized personnel back off base.

"They may, at a moment's notice, have to secure the gates or engage the barriers," Tebbe added. "Speeding reduces reaction time and greatly increases the chance of injury."

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