April 3, 2014 --
Sending or receiving a text message while driving distracts a driver from the road for 4.6 seconds, according to www.distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving.
The website compared it to driving the entire length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded.
Capt. Mike Reynolds, operations officer, Marine Corps Police Department, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, revealed distracted driving is a problem here because many drivers don’t understand everything that is considered a distraction.
Most drivers, who text or use cell phones while driving, acknowledge it as distracted driving. However, there are other behaviors people fail to recognize as distractions.
“It could be eating, looking at an accident on the side of the road or even holding a dog as you drive,” Reynolds said. “I have seen people attempting to read a book while driving.”
He described that one instance as the driver having the book laying on the steering wheel while driving down the road.
Here, the two biggest problems are texting and cell phone usage, according to Reynolds.
To combat this problem, he said the police department has increased patrols in the last month as well as the number of citations being issued.
“People are losing their base privileges for violating policies relating to distracted driving while on base,” Reynolds said.
There is information posted at every gate advising drivers of base policy relating to cell phone usage as well as on the installation’s marquees located in various areas, he said.
“Our goal is to eliminate distracted drivers,” Reynolds said.
He explained the increased effort has met with some resistance from drivers.
MCPD has received several negative Interactive Customer Evaluations from individuals receiving citations for not adhering to executive orders, Department of Defense and base policies, Reynolds said.
The Executive Order 13513 Sec. 2, titled Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging While Driving, states federal employees shall not engage in text messaging when driving a government owned vehicle or when driving a privately owned vehicle while on official government business, or when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving.
Base Order P5560.9D, titled Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulations, indicates individuals driving a vehicle on base will not use any hand held device to engage in reading from, listening to or communicating to unless it is hands free.
Additionally, Georgia state law prohibits all drivers from texting while driving.
Reynolds said everyone gets in a hurry at some point and wants to multi- task while driving.
People think they can handle doing two things at one time, but there is so much involved in driving a car.
A driver has to not only pay attention to what he is doing, but also drive defensively by paying attention to what other drivers are doing as well.
“Everyone needs to get in the habit of when they are driving, just drive,” he emphasized.