Archive for Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Officers to enforce ban on cell phones at Fort Leavenworth

July 26, 2006

Drivers negotiating streets and roads on Fort Leavenworth be warned: Hang up that cell phone or risk losing your driving privileges on post.

Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Army post will institute a Department of Defense directive that bans drivers from talking on a cell phone unless they're using a hands-free headset or they've pulled their vehicle over and are safely parked.

"It's a good thing," Maj. Garrett Fawaz, provost marshal at Fort Leavenworth, said of the directive. "Anything that drives us away from paying attention to the road is a safety issue, and this is definitely a safety issue."

Military police will enforce the directive, but drivers found in violation will receive only a warning citation, Fawaz said. The warnings won't carry a monetary fine.

That's because Army installations assume the same statutes as their host state, and it's not illegal in Kansas to talk on a cell phone while driving, he said.

"However, if a driver on an installation receives three citations within a 180-day period, the garrison commander can suspend driving privileges on post," Fawaz said.

Civilian employees and regular visitors to the post, such as military retirees with privileges at the Post Exchange or Commissary, were notified earlier this year of the pending prohibition.

"Since then, we've really seen an increase in the use of hands-free devices," he said.

As the Aug. 1 enforcement date approaches, though, the fort has begun a public relations campaign to notify the broader community of the ban.

"Quite honestly, people who live and work here know it's been coming," Fawaz said. "We've really been trying to get the word out to visitors who may not normally come to Fort Leavenworth."

Signs will be erected at entrances to the fort to remind visitors of the cell-phone rules. In addition, security personnel who screen visitors at the fort's gates will remind drivers of the prohibition.

Fawaz said military police at the fort typically would write in the neighborhood of 100 traffic citations a month, and he doesn't expect the number to rise appreciably with the new rules.

"Honestly, we're more focused on the security of the installation," Fawaz said. "But we still do traffic enforcement."

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