MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- With his radar clicker in hand, the chief traffic crash investigator checks the speed of passing vehicles, while he himself cruises down Holcomb Boulevard here.
Staff Sgt. Donald H. Albers Jr., Traffic Division, Provost Marshal’s Office, spent the majority of his day cracking down on traffic violators aboard the base May 4.
“Radar enforcement is not to write tickets, it’s to slow traffic down,” he said.
The Bernardsville, N.J., native said the military police officers are not required to write a certain number of citations a month or reach a quota, they are just enforcing the law and just trying to keep the people on base safe. In fact, many violators get off with as little as a warning.
Since the beginning of the year, the 10 traffic division Marines have written well over 1,000 traffic violation citations. Seventy-nine were for cell phone violations and 73 for seatbelt offenders, according to Albers.
“Our main objective is safety enforcement,” he said.
The violations that are seen on a daily basis are speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and talking on a cell phone without the use of a hands-free device while driving. Most of the people getting pulled over seem to have some sort of excuse like, “I thought the speed limit was higher”, “I wasn’t paying attention” and“ I was just going with the flow of traffic.” Those are some of the most commonly used excuses.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the speed limit off base, as well as on base,” said the 13-year Marine.
After clocking someone going 70 miles per hour down Holcomb Boulevard, Albers stuck his hand out the window and pointed, signaling for them to pull over, before pulling across the median to follow them.
Twenty miles per hour over the posted speed limit doesn't come cheap, it will cost someone driving privileges on base for 90 days, he said.
Albers also said 50 percent of crashes, on base, in the month of April happened in parking lots.
The speed limit in a parking lot is 10 miles per hour, reminds Albers.
Another big problem is the use of cell phones without the hands-free device while driving.
The Marine Corps Order 5100.19E states that Marines will use a hands-free device while driving and Albers said it doesn’t matter if a servicemember is driving on or off base, they still need to use the hands-free device.
“It bothers me that people aren’t supposed to use their cell phones [without a hands-free device], but they still do it,” Albers said.
Along with cracking down on speeders and cell phone abusers, the MP's are ticketing seatbelt offenders.
Albers has heard all sorts of excuses as to why people don't have their seatbelts on. Most of the servicemembers just claim ignorance, but some will admit they were in such a hurry they forgot to buckle up.
Since the "click it or ticket" campaign was adopted in December 2002, seatbelt usage on base has gone up, according to Albers.
"The increase is not only from PMO enforcement," Albers stresses. "It's also from the different command’s support."
“If you don’t like wearing your seatbelt you don’t have to wear one when you are on your bicycle,” explained Albers. “New bike paths are being built around base everyday.”
From the pay grade of E-1 to O-10, servicemember or civilian, if caught violating a traffic law, they will be treated the same, explained Albers.