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Drive safe on base, please

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- It seems like driving is becoming a big concern these days, in general and with the winter months approaching. One thing that we all need to keep in mind, whether the weather is fine or dire, is to continue to follow the rules.

The speed limits and regulations for driving on base are put into place for a reason. Excessive speeds, drinking and driving, distractions such as the use of cell phones, and many other matters can cause accidents, which might result in bodily injury, or if severe enough, death.

The rules are made because they need to be followed. They need to be followed because they are preventative measures against accidents.

It is inevitable that everyone has their days, their moments. The alarm clock doesn't go off, shoveling the snow from the sidewalks and driveway took more time than you thought, the traffic was bad or maybe it's just a bad day overall. It happens to everyone at some point, and it's understandable.

What is not understandable is driving through a designated 20 mile-per-hour zone with children present at 35 miles per hour because you are late. As Col. Thomas Sharpy, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, once said, "It is an explainable delay, but it is an unexplainable accident."

Think about driving by Michael Anderson Elementary School. The speed limit is 20 miles per hour, and it is set so for a reason - children are present, many of whom walk to school from the base housing areas. Please be particularly careful while driving near this area of the base.

Other major concerns are driver distractions. I've seen such things as applying makeup, reading a book or newspaper, balloons impairing vision, parents interacting with children, and one of the most common distractions, driving while using a cellular device.

While this may seem like a minimal distraction to some, it is not. It is a dangerous thing to use when the driver should be focusing on the road. It is because cell phones are such a distraction that using them while driving on base is prohibited, and it will become a primary offense in Washington on Jan. 1.

Keep this in mind the next time you put those keys in the ignition. Don't speed, focus on your driving and save the phone call for when you reach your destination.