JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Even though the Department of Defense banned the use of cell phones while driving on a military installation more than a decade ago, it continues to be a problem on Joint Base San Antonio installations.
In 2012, more than 145 citations were issued to drivers talking or texting on their cell phone while driving on JBSA.
On JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, the number of violations decreased from 152 in 2011 to 94 in 2012.
Department of Defense Instruction 6055.04 prohibits DOD personnel from text messaging, using cell phones or other hand-held electronic devices while driving any vehicle on or off military installations on official government business.
The regulation states that the vehicle must be safely parked or the driver is using a hands-free device, except for receiving or placing calls in performance of duties from tactical or emergency vehicles or other mission critical duties to include law enforcement use of in-car mobile data terminals and other electronic devices.
Drivers are also prohibited from wearing portable headphones, earphones or other listening devices while driving any vehicle on official government business. The use of hearing aids, single earpiece hands-free phone devices and motorcycle intercom devices can be used where allowed by law.
If military or civilian personnel are caught violating this policy on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, they will be issued a DD Form 1408 citation.
"Four points are assessed for each violation," said Suzanne McGlothin, 502nd Security Forces Squadron.
"If enough points are accumulated, the offender may have their installation driving privileges suspended or revoked."
In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that each year at least 23 percent of all traffic crashes involve cell phone use.
"Using a cell phone while driving not only violates DOD policy, but it also endangers lives - yours or someone else's," said Chief Master Sgt. Jose LugoSantiago, command chief master sergeant, 502nd Air Base Wing and Joint Base San Antonio.
Four years ago, LugoSanitiago witnessed the consequences of using a cell phone while driving firsthand. He was playing in the yard with his son and his nieces when he noticed a car veering off the road.
"The lady driving leaned over to pick up her cell phone," he explained. "She didn't notice what was happening because she was trying to answer her phone. When she looked up, it was too late."
"Her car hit the cement gutter, spun in the air and hit the ground twice," LugoSantiago said, thinking back on the horrible, yet avoidable tragedy.
"I ran to the vehicle ... seeing Christmas presents scattered, it was obvious she just came from Christmas shopping. She did not survive the accident."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009, more than 5,400 people were killed and 448,000 were injured in crashes that were reported to involve driving while distracted.
Among those killed or injured in these crashes, 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries listed cell phone use as the major distraction.
"Life is too precious," LugoSantiago said. "We have to live in the moment.
"Our families love us. Our military family loves us. We owe it to them to be safe. We can surely do the right thing by not using our cell phone while driving."