MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., Jan 25, 2013 -- “A 160-pound individual versus a 4,000-pound vehicle is never going to be a good mix,” said Staff Sgt. Brian P. Faulk, the accident investigation chief for the Cherry Point Provost Marshal’s Office.
Simple axioms like this are why Cherry Point enforces a number of basic rules for cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians to prevent injury and loss of life or property. Even so, there are still a few issues PMO and the traffic safety manager, Michael Granger, continue to see endangering people on the air station.
“Lately we’ve had a trend of failure to yield the right of ways, which has produced several wrecks in the past week,” said Faulk. “Individuals are not looking left or right, or during inclement weather, people are not turning on their headlights to warn the other vehicles they’re coming toward them. That’s the biggest trend right now.”
Other issues involve drivers not paying attention because they’re talking on a cell phone, changing radio stations or engaging in some other activity that causes them to take their eyes off the road. Faulk said inattentive driving causes accidents, and drivers can receive citations for it. Talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device, for example, is an automatic 90-day suspension of driving privileges.
Granger said many accidents come from violating rules people have been taught since their high school drivers’ education class, like avoiding following too closely, speeding, and always wearing seat belts.
“Accidents would probably still happen, but if everyone was driving the speed limit and allowing safe distances around vehicles, they would be way less likely to happen,” he said.
While drivers need to maintain constant situational awareness, pedestrians also have responsibilities according to the law. Pedestrians have the right of way but are required to look both ways before crossing, and should never step in front of a vehicle that is moving too fast to safely stop.
“Pedestrians are what I’m concerned about,” said Granger. “I’m just as concerned about their safety as the people driving down the road. (Physical training) is another huge thing on this base. You can’t wear headphones unless you’re on the trail. You’re not supposed to run anywhere else on the base with headphones on or cross roads with headphones on, but we see it all the time. Why do people run on the road when there’s a perfectly good trail 50 feet away?”
Motorcycle drivers are also on the priority list of both Granger and Faulk. Three driver’s courses are available for Marines and Sailors to learn safety. The first course is required in order to be allowed to drive on base. The state of North Carolina recently authorized the basic course to issue waivers so once the course is complete, motorcycle drivers no longer have to pass an additional driver’s test in order to drive in the state. Also, prospective riders can go through their chain of command to get permission to bring motorcycles on station and attend the course on a space available basis.
Marines can find themselves accidentally in violation of Cherry Point’s and North Carolina’s driving laws because Marines are constantly moving from station to station, said Faulk. Between Okinawa, California, and North Carolina, rules and regulations change. Faulk recommends individual Marines look up the regulations and educate themselves for their own good. Commands can also ask Faulk for a traffic safety brief to educate Marines on driving safely on Cherry Point. He can be contacted at 252-466-2841.