Lejeune combats distracted driving

25 Sep 2013 | Lance. Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is raising awareness to save lives through Base Safety’s no texting and driving campaign.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60 percent of drivers have admitted to using cell phones while driving and 77 percent of young adult drivers feel they are confident behind the wheel while using a cell phone.

“Our biggest push is awareness,” said Ronald Sarmento, deputy director of safety for Marine Corps Installations East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “The community needs to learn, regardless if they think they’re good at it, that it’s wrong, illegal and not to do it.”

To better enforce the Marine Corps Traffic Safety Program, “Drive Safe,” issued in Marine Corps order 5100.19F, Sarmento encourages all law enforcement to crack down on drivers caught texting.

According to base traffic court aboard Camp Lejeune, 325 citations have been issued so far this year for cell phone use while operating a vehicle.

Punishment for texting and driving aboard Camp Lejeune includes a four point driver’s license penalty with driving privileges revoked for 30 days.

Sarmento added, regardless of the legal ramifications, a vehicle is a registered deadly weapon and being distracted, even for a few seconds, could cost a person’s life.

“It’s not all about you the person who thinks they’re good at texting and driving,” said Sarmento. “It’s about everyone on the road you’re putting in danger by actions behind the wheel.”

The NHTSA states, 46 percent of adults in the U.S. have admitted to being in a near accident due to distracted driving and more than 90 percent of young adult drivers have used or seen the use of a cell phone by a driver.

The push to improve driver safety and eliminate texting while driving is a Marine Corps wide priority.

Brig. Gen. Robert Castellvi, commanding general Marine Corps Installations East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, is equally concerned about this disturbing trend of distracted driving across his installations.

“Marines and Sailors need to understand when they’re driving, there is nothing more important than the safe operation of their vehicles. Period,” said Castellvi. “While it may only last a few seconds, texting while driving takes your attention off the road, potentially resulting in a senseless tragedy. Is even one text message or a social media update worth a life? Reading texts or responding to them while driving is simply foolish. Put the phone down, it can wait.”

For more information on driver safety courses contact the base safety office at 451-5903.


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