MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Selective Enforcement campaign aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune officially began Sept. 1 and has been implemented to crack down on aggressive driving.
The campaign’s goal is to target and reduce any behind-the-wheel behavior that places one or more people at risk, providing a safer working, learning and living environment aboard the base.
The number of aggressive driving violations has increased 72 percent since calendar year 2009, according to the Department of Public Safety.
So far, there are more than 20 seatbelt violations, more than 47 service members driving while intoxicated and more than 85 speeding violations than there were in 2009. With several months left before the year is up, the DPS and the Provost Marshal’s Office are hoping the numbers decrease significantly.
“Recently, there has been a steep climb in traffic accidents aboard the base, and it was found that most of the causes for the accidents are aggressive driving,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Marsh, officer in charge of special operations, PMO, MCB Camp Lejeune. “We’re specifically pin-pointing seatbelts, speeding, driving under the influence, school zone infractions and cell phone usage, which is a major contributor.”
For all seatbelt, cellular device, speeding, crosswalk or school zone violations, the minimum base driving privilege sentencing is one week. Offenders on their second violations will receive a one-month suspension and all third-time violators can expect a six-month suspension. For DWIs, offenders will receive an automatic one-year suspension.
“Violators aren’t going to see a lot of leniency from Traffic Court during (the campaign),” said Marsh. “Cell phones usage is extremely high on base right now. You could sit at any intersection and find at least two cell phone users. And speeding is always a problem.”
Marsh added that while the campaign is still in full effect, the best advice would be for drivers to be on their guard.
“Marines should be driving defensively,” said Marsh. “I understand sometimes you’re in a hurry, but it’s not worth putting yourself or your fellow Marines’ lives in danger to get where you’re going a little faster. I would much rather (get in trouble) for being a little bit late than have to explain to somebody’s (spouse) that they died as a result of my actions.”
With the beginning of the school year underway, the hustle and bustle of Camp Lejeune traffic now includes hundreds of commuting children everyday, making them just as vulnerable to aggressive drivers as everyone else.
Eric Steimel, principal of the Camp Lejeune High School aboard the base, said that around this time, during the beginning of a school year, most people have established their driving patterns already and the driving patterns of the summer time do not include student and pedestrian traffic.
A good deal of base personnel decides early on that if traffic is bad enough coming down Holcomb Boulevard, they will attempt to take the Stone Street route as a shortcut.
“When you look at the number of schools on Stone Street, there are a tremendous number of students walking up and down,” said Steimel. “If you have just one driver not paying attention, and not locked on to their task, bad things can happen. We would like to think that all the drivers pay attention and have good judgment, but that’s not always the case. It takes a combination of responsibilities to make sure everyone stays safe.”
Steimel added that during the years he has worked aboard the base, he knows there have been many traffic accidents and even fatalities due to drivers’ inabilities to stick to the basic rules of the road.
“I always worry about that for the people I work with and for the students,” said Steimel. “It’s avoidable. Those are things that don’t have to happen.”