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NEWS | Jan. 17, 2013

Security forces officials warn against reckless driving at gates

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

When active-duty members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors leave Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph through the main and west gates, chances are they will encounter protective barriers called bollards.

Nine drivers struck the bollards in 2012, with two incidents occurring in December, all resulting from errant driving.

The drivers' ages varied, so the strikes were not a demographics issue, Master Sgt. Richard Orwig, 902nd Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of operations, said.

"The two things we did notice were distracted driving and excessive speeds," or a combination of both as was the case in a Dec. 16 strike, he said.

The bollards are designed to be navigated around at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour for a passenger vehicle.

"Some vehicles can't make it through safely even at that speed due to size, especially if it's a large truck," Orwig said.

This spurred security forces to engage JBSA-Randolph members on the topic of safe driving, with a proposed slogan of "Slow Down to Get Around" in the works for the main and west gate areas.

"The bollards don't pose a large problem for the base populace to the point of removing this good security practice," Maj. Gregory Bodenstein, 902nd SFS commander, said. "Negotiating the bollards is successfully done by thousands of drivers at JBSA-Randolph every day."

According to security officials, the bollards are here to stay for good reason.

"The biggest thing is they aren't going to be removed; they are a force protection directive to limit the chance of somebody from coming into the base in a vehicle through the outbound lanes (near the exit gate)," Orwig said, which is an antiterrorism measure.

They are also used by many Air Force installations post-9/11 to control entry and exit speeds for additional protection, Orwig added.

During high-traffic hours such as lunchtime and at the end of business, from about 3:30-6 p.m., the bollards are removed because an influx of vehicles creates an organic barrier - a blocking force in the outbound lanes - eliminating their need momentarily.

However, the safety message remains the same.

"Follow the speed limit and take the time to drive safely," Orwig said.