Wing safety, security forces reminds Laughlin of speeding issues

A truck travels through a bus stop outside the child development center at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 8, 2017. Once the newly renovated west gate opens, Laughlin’s main street will transition from Liberty Drive to three streets at Mitchell Boulevard, Laughlin Drive and Arnold Boulevard, where speeding becomes more of a hazard for children waiting at bus stops, joggers, the child development center and base parks.

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Though Laughlin Air Force Base is a small base tucked into the corner of Texas, it has cars coming and going all day.

On a bright and sunny day, with dry, level pavement and really good brakes, it would take more than 100 feet to bring a vehicle traveling 30 mph to a complete stop. However, the reaction time exponentially decreases the faster one drives.  A mere five miles over the limit can cause a driver to take more than 150 feet to stop, meaning every second matters.

Lt. Col. James Browning, 47th Flying Training Wing safety office chief of wing safety, says that while Laughlin hasn’t experienced any recent uptick in traffic violations, the security forces are cracking down on offenders to increase awareness of speeding. Slow down and be mindful of pedestrians on the street is the message the 47th FTW safety office and 47th Security Forces Squadron wants to get out to base personnel.

“There’s no place on base that has personnel assigned to it that you can’t get from one side of base to another in five minutes,” Browning said. “Is five minutes going to make a huge difference in arriving? Probably not, but if you hit a child or cause an accident, it could be life changing.”

Once the newly renovated west gate opens, Laughlin’s main street will transition from Liberty Drive to three streets at Mitchell Boulevard, Laughlin Drive and Arnold Boulevard, where speeding becomes more of a hazard for children waiting at bus stops, joggers, the child development center and base parks.

“I think everybody is a little guilty of speeding sometimes, because you’re ready to get home or urgently need to get to work,” Browning said. “With things like that, we have to remember to follow the rules the best we can because they’re there to keep all of us safe.”

The issues of pedestrians also extend to places where speed limits may not be posted, according to Staff Sgt. Matthew Solis, 47th SFS reports analyst. He said it’s a common misconception that the speed limit stays the same throughout the base.  Both the west and the north gates are 15 mph, and the speed limits around base housing are 20 mph unless posted otherwise.

“We catch people mainly on the main road [Liberty Drive],” Solis said. “We also catch people blowing right through housing without even thinking about it.”

Both Browning and Solis agree the safest way to avoid speeding while driving to work is to give more time for travel, especially when the new west gate opens.

“If you’re in a hurry, you need to plan ahead,” Solis said. “We run every incident regardless of the situation.  Rather than being in a position where you’re late, plan ahead and leave early so you can follow the speed limit and keep everyone safe.”

A second and a half could mean the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency stop, and speeding makes it only harder.  Traffic stops on base are solely to help Laughlin’s personnel remain safe both in the vehicle, and out on the street.