An increase in speeding violations is causing greater concern for the safety of the pedestrians and children on Fort Huachuca. The principle problem areas are in and around the housing areas, bus stops and school zones.
“The bottom line is that we still have a problem with speeding inside the housing areas, and there are problems in the school zones and the bus stops. One of the natural things that you think we could do is put up speed humps,” Fort Huachuca Garrison Commander Col. Dan McFarland explained. There are a multitude of reasons this is not possible. Army regulations, fiscal laws, and the fact that Mountain Vista [Communities] has legal liabilities to abide by make putting in speed humps easier said than done, he added.
“What we are going to do is monitor [speeding] using patrol cars in various locations and various times of the day, principally during high occupancy periods. There will be a grace period of a week or two, citing people with warning tickets, and then we will start issuing tickets,” said McFarland. He does not feel people are deliberately speeding, but that drivers do not realize their speed. “Once we put police out there and we stop people, and once a few people get issued tickets, the message will get out. This is not a standards-and-discipline decision. This is not about enforcing an arbitrary law or regulation. This is about the safety of the children and that is why we are going to do it,” he said.
The Directorate of Emergency Services is working diligently with McFarland to decrease the speeding issues and concerns. “There are times where there is more concern than others, obviously. During school hours, when school first starts, when school gets out, and during lunch time. These are the most critical times that we want to focus on the housing areas because those are the times where there is more likely to be an accident,” said Dan Ortega, director of Emergency Services, Fort Huachuca. “The intent is not to issue a ticket, or to meet a quota. It is to slow people down and make it safer. If I have a patrol sitting [in problem areas] and five people are driving down the road, and they all slow down because they see the patrol car, then that’s a good thing. That is the intent, to slow people down for the safety of everyone in the community.”
In haste, drivers are using the housing areas and service roads to reduce time spent in the morning or afternoon traffic. These are the areas in which the children are most often running and playing, often without awareness of passing vehicles. If drivers are not residents of a housing development on Fort Huachuca, McFarland recommends avoiding these areas to prevent a pedestrian-related accident.
In a previous edition of the Fort Huachuca Scout, Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commander, U.S. Army Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, said, “Speed restrictions are laws put in place according to the kinds of vehicles and the amount of traffic on the road, with regard to the type of area. Speed limits are meant to be followed in order to maintain safety. A driver or motorcyclist who is going significantly over the speed limit is putting him or herself, as well as others, at risk. It’s everyone’s responsibility to follow all posted speed limits and look out for the safety of not only our Soldiers as they train, but every precious life we encounter.”
When driving on Fort Huachuca, regardless of the time of day, officials caution drivers to be mindful of their speed, and be aware of crosswalks, children at play and possible animals that may dart into the road. The speed limits are put in place for specific and important reasons. Speeding does not just hurt the driver with a citation and possibly other punishment; it could also possibly mean the loss of a life.