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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Traffic Accidents Increasing

By LCpl. Brian J. Griffin | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | May 11, 2000

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The number of traffic accidents on base since January involving military personnel from Camp Pendleton has increased 12 percent, according to numbers provided by the Provost Marshal?s Office.
Last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, there were roughly 480 accidents reported on base, an average of 40 per month.
As of the first week of May, 190 accidents had been reported on base since Jan. 1, including one fatality, according to Sgt. Jim Herrell, PMO accident investigator.
That is an average of 45 accidents per month.
Sgt. David J. Alsheimer, another accident investigator, attributed the increase to lack of concentration while driving.
"People get too comfortable in their driving habits and become less aware of their surroundings," he said.
One of the ways Marines and their family members can improve their knowledge about traffic safety is to attend the Driver Improvement Course offered at the Joint Safety Center Mondays through Fridays. The course is mandatory for military personnel ages 25 and younger.
"After the class, people change their minds about speeding or driving drunk," said Sgt. Shawn D. Schofield, driver improvement course instructor.
"People often fail to see the long-term consequences associated with speeding or driving drunk, and it is one big thing they need to look at," Schofield said. "When they lose their driving privileges, they don't really think about how they are going to get to work or go out. It usually turns out to be a bummer."
The average number of DUIs is three per month, the same as last year, Alsheimer said
Most minor accidents on base, or fender-benders, happen during rush hours (5:30-8 a.m., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-6 p.m.), when people are "not as aware as they should be," Alsheimer said. He attributed many such accidents to following too closely, resulting in rear-end collisions.
Speeding also contributes to accidents on base. "Drivers don't even bother to notice the speed changes," Alsheimer said. "Speed limits are posted to protect the safety of the driver and the pedestrians that might be in the area. People who speed have less control of their vehicle and less chance of stopping and preventing an accident from happening.
Although DUI numbers are holding steady, Alsheimer called the three-per-month average ?alarming.? He urged drivers to be especially careful at night, when 90 percent of base DUIs occur, he said.
"People think they are able to handle drinking and driving, but what they don't realize is that there are lots of winding curves on Camp Pendleton."
The military police enforce DUI laws at the gates as much as possible. One of the reasons for the mandatory identification card check at night is to intercept drunken drivers, Alsheimer said.
He reminded drivers that traffic laws are for their protection.
"If you obey all the traffic laws and you are aware of your surroundings, nine out of 10 times, it will save you from being in an accident."
For more information about traffic safety or the driver improvement course, call the Joint Safety Center, 725-3672.


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