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Officials warn about impact of distracted driving at Arnold AFB

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and members of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Security and Safety offices are asking drivers to pay attention and stay focused when behind the wheel.

AEDC Chief of Integrated Defense Keith Davis says there are a number of ways officers can assess driving and pull someone over for suspected distracted driving.

“A driver looking down or not at the roadway ahead of them; vehicle drifting; erratic braking and speed that doesn’t coincide with current traffic flow are just a few of the ways we can determine if someone is distracted,” Davis said.

“Arnold Department of Air Force detectives and Security Services contractors can stop anyone on government property for distracted driving. Depending on the seriousness of the circumstances of the violation, we may contact the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Coffee County Sheriff or Franklin County Sheriff’s offices as well as issue an Armed Forces Traffic Ticket or a DD Form 1408.”

If an employee, government or contractor, receives multiple DD 1408s, they can lose driving privileges at AEDC for a specified period of time or permanently dependent upon the seriousness of the infraction or number of tickets received over a given time frame.

The AEDC commander sees all of the 1408s. According to regulation, the installation commander has the authority to issue, suspend, revoke, deny or reinstate installation driving privileges.

Separate and apart from the Commander’s authority, a traffic points system is used to determine the status of driving privileges. It’s in accordance with the Arnold AFB Integrated Defense Plan, Appendix 4 to Annex C, 6 Nov 18 t. (U) Traffic Point System, Traffic Plan.

“The traffic point system provides a uniform administrative device to impartially judge driving performance,” Davis said. “This system is not a disciplinary measure or a substitute for punitive action. It applies to all drivers within the jurisdictional limits of Arnold AFB, drivers of government or contractor vehicles both on and off Arnold AFB, and military personnel operating privately owned vehicles both on and off Arnold AFB.”

Points are assessed for each violation (IAW AFMAN 31-116 and AFI 31-218 (I). When two or more violations are committed on a single occasion, points can be assessed for each violation. If a driver accumulates six or more points within six months, a letter is addressed to the appropriate commander, division or branch chief or management representative. The person is counseled on driving habits and the consequences, including revocation or suspension of installation driving privileges for 12 months.
Chris Wolfe, AEDC Occupational Safety manager, knows distracted driving is a concern, so his team is developing safety campaigns to focus on it.

“I have seen workers being in a hurry to get on the road to head home and checking their phones,” he said. “I understand that some people who work in restricted areas or have poor reception in work areas want to catch up with what they have missed during the day, however, they are taking an unnecessary risk while driving distracted and endangering others. Not to mention that holding the phone in your hand while driving is prohibited.”

Wolfe is correct. The AEDC Commander’s Policy requires drivers to use hands-free technology when driving and talking on a cell phone. This applies not only for the industrial complex, but on all government-owned property – Wattendorf Highway, military housing, the Wingo Inn and the Arnold Lakeside Center. The policy applies to the government and contractors.

Nationwide nine people are killed every day and 100 more injured because of distracted driving according to statistics provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board.

Wolfe remembers working with someone who lost his teenage daughter due to distracted driving.

“Shortly after merging into a four-lane road, she continued in the far right hand lane and began texting her friend. The friend she was texting was actually where she was driving to and only a few minutes away. While she was chatting in the text, she failed to notice a large truck that was stopped in the slow, far right lane ahead of her. She ended up driving into the back of the truck at full speed and was instantly killed. While telling the story, her father mentioned that the phone was still in her hand when he arrived at the scene.”

If you see someone who appears to be distracted while they are driving at Arnold AFB, pull over to the side of the road and call Arnold Protective Services at (931) 454-5662.