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State Trooper divulges truth behind motor vehicle safety

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cammie Quinn
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Trooper Greg Steffens, North Carolina Highway Patrol, had Pope Airmen laughing, shuddering and reflecting during his base-wide briefings held at the Pope Theater on April 14 and 15.

According to Trooper Steffens, more service members have died in automobile crashes since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom than in combat, a staggering fact that has motivated him to conduct safety briefings throughout North Carolina.

Trooper Steffens asked the Airmen to raise their hands if they've ever dropped their cell phone in the toilet. Sheepishly, scattered hands rose to the sky. For his next question, he asked the audience to raise their hands if they slept with their cell phones next to them the night before, hands rose in the air more eagerly that time.

"How can we be expected to go to the bathroom with our phones, sleep with our phones but not drive with our phones," he asked. The trooper used this question as a caveat for his safety briefing, which included the topic of texting while driving.

Trooper Steffens provided highway safety tips to remember while on the road. The five specific areas on which the Highway Patrol is particularly focused are texting while driving, railroad crossings, drinking and driving, the importance of seat belts and deer safety.

Below is a highlight of the topics, tips and laws he discussed.

· Texting while driving- Effective Dec 1, 2009, it is in violation of North Carolina law to text while operating a motor vehicle on the highway. A conviction could result in a $100 fine and court costs.

· Rail Road Crossings- Drivers should stop at every railroad crossing when a train is coming. Trains cannot stop quickly. The weight and size of the train and the speed of the train dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop once the train is set into emergency braking.

· Drinking and Driving- The legal Blood Alcohol Content level in North Carolina is .08. Always watch for the other guy. Look out for drivers who straddle the center line, swerve in and out of traffic, drift into other lanes, make wide turns, drive too slow or too fast, follow too closely, run up on the curb, run red lights or drive at night without headlights.

· Seat belts- Driver and passengers are required to buckle up every time they get in the car. Seat belts save lives and prevent injuries. Adults should wear seatbelts and not depend on airbags alone. Seatbelts and airbags work together and without the seatbelt, an airbag could hit the driver or passenger in the chest with the impact of a baseball bat.

· Deer Safety- In wooded or farmland areas, drivers should decrease their speed and increase the distance from the vehicle ahead of them. It is better to hit the animal while keeping control of your vehicle than hitting another vehicle head-on, or causing another vehicle to lose control. If a deer enters the road, drivers should slow down, honk their horn and turn on their hazard lights.

Trooper Steffens pointed out that upon joining the Air Force, Airmen took an oath to protect the country. He reminded Team Pope that as service members, they have the duty to provide safety, security and trust to the citizens of America.