Following the Rules of the Road
By Neil Townley, 17th Training Wing Safety
/ Published November 14, 2011
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Driving. It's something we do every day and some of us put more thought into it than others. Every now and then it's good to have a good refresher about some common, and some not so common, rules of the road:
Right of way.
Remember not to "take" the right of way. Right of way is something given. A common place right of way is taken is at intersections. The next time you see the green light, remember to look left and right before you go.
What's the most common distraction you see almost every day? Cell phones, right? We all recognize this as the most prevalent, yet we continue to do it. Using a cell phone while driving can KILL you. Don't be a part of the "it won't happen to me crowd." Radios and eating/drinking are other common distractions people do all the time and have resulted in Airmen's deaths in the past.
Littering in Texas is a big deal. It may not always lead to a serious mishap but it does make the roads look trashy and carries a hefty fine.
Use turn signals.
Remember to use your turn signals. This is especially important when approaching the North and South gates. Signaling your intentions to others helps keep the flow of traffic moving smoothly can prevent major fender benders.
Ever pull up to a crosswalk on base and wonder who should go and when? Here's the rule: people entering a crosswalk have the right of way and should be yielded to. Vehicles approaching a crosswalk should slow down and signal to the pedestrians wanting to cross to go across. Students should NOT wave traffic through the crosswalk while people are waiting to cross. If there is a significant line of traffic backed up because of non-stop student crossing, then it would be reasonable to allow some traffic to pass to prevent a traffic jam, but this is the exception.
Watch your speed in parking lots. Parking lots on and off base can be crowded and give you very little time to maneuver or react if someone or something pulls out in front of you. Parking lots are also the number one source of vehicle collisions on base because of people backing out of parking spots.
We've all heard of this as it relates to operating a government vehicle, but does the philosophy of checking what's behind you apply only to GOVs? No. You should be thinking the same thing while operating your personal vehicle. If you don't have a spotter, you can do a walk-around. If there's someone walking by and you're having issues backing up, ask them to spot you. Most people won't mind.
Watch for motorcycles.
Motorcycles have a smaller profile and most drivers aren't accustom to looking for them. Train yourself to look for motorcycles by counting how many you see when you drive home from work today.
The single greatest thing you can do while behind the wheel of your car is ask yourself, "what if?" Asking "what if" will force you to be prepared for just about any situation.
Stop thinking you're in a hurry to do everything. Slow down and smell the roses. If you have an emergency, then handle your business, but chances are what you think is an emergency and needs to be done right away, usually isn't.
Be cognizant of how you appear to the public when driving off base. Public image is a big deal. Speeding and in uniform doesn't look good. If you're yapping on the phone and swerving all over the road, it doesn't look good. If you cut someone off and they happen follow you on base, it may be your boss and that might not be conducive to your career.