Don't drive distracted

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Larsen
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and 47th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) defenders are helping raise awareness of why to not drive distracted.

“I personally have seen several vehicle accidents that were the result of distracted driving,” said Staff Sgt. Ronnie Moore, 47th SFS, flight sergeant. “The main cause of the accidents were cell phone usage, but also people simply paying too much attention to exercises or accidents they were not a part of.”

Drivers may sometimes forget they are piloting a high-mass, high-speed, object because they do it so often, reminding themselves why to stay focused.

“It is important to be aware when you’re driving,” said Senior Airman Vallard Campbell, 47th SFS defender. “As a driver of a motor vehicle, you are responsible for your vehicle and for preventing the potential loss of life or causing injury.”

Distracted driving is one of the major causes of fatal and injury-causing accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, distracted driving causes nearly one-sixth of the crashes, leading to 399 fatalities and 2793 serious injuries in 2023.

The 47th SFS says that no fatalities or crashes caused by distracted driving occurred on Laughlin during 2023, however, 228 incidents occurred on base with two safety violation infractions.

“Safety of Laughlin’s roadways are consistently a top priority of the Security Forces Squadron,” said Maj. Robert Stone, 47th SFS commander. “Through targeted enforcement actions and crime prevention messaging, Defenders would like the entire community to remember there’s zero tolerance for distracted driving on the installation. As a reminder, the ability to operate a moving vehicle of any type on base is a privilege and not a right. Personnel caught driving while distracted will face an immediate driving suspension.”

Driving while using a phone on Laughlin has escalating consequences. The first offense carries a 15-day driving suspension, the second carries a 30-day suspension and the third carries a 6-month suspension.

Cell phones aren’t the only distractions that can cause incidents; be mindful of other notable distractions include eating food, adjusting music, or talking with passengers.

“Some tips to prevent distracted driving are to focus on your driving fully,” said Alexander Valdez, 47 FTW Occupational Safety specialist. “Store your loose gear, make your adjustments before you take off, finish getting ready at home, make sure your kids are secured properly before getting underway, put your cellphone aside, and you could even download apps that prevent you from using your phone while driving.”

All of these options help prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities from happening on and off base, leading to safer driving.