CHERRY POINT, N.C. - When Marines get behind the wheel of a vehicle, they’re putting themselves at the mercy of potential roadway hazards, other drivers or unforeseen weather conditions – all of which they have no control over.
Something drivers can always control is the speed of their vehicle, yet speeding is one of the leading causes of auto accidents and is the most common traffic infraction aboard the air station, explained Cpl. Wesley R. Vawter, an accident investigator with the Cherry Point Provost Marshal’s Office.
“In most instances, the driver isn’t paying attention,” Vawter said. “Most of the time, the severity of the speeding is around 10 mph over the speed limit.”
Going 15 mph over is an automatic suspension of driving privileges on the air station, added Vawter, and could result in a suspended lisence off base.
Most people would admit they’re not angels when it comes to the occasional speeding. Whether they’re late for work, trying to make it to a movie or just not paying attention, they push harder than they should on the gas pedal. But the consequences of speeding can be much more severe than walking into a movie late.
About four years ago, on a weekday morning in West Palm Beach, Fla., Trish A. Grigg was seated in her vehicle at a red light, listening to the radio. It was about eight o’clock and she had just dropped her kids off at school, like she did every day.
Trish and her husband, Staff Sgt. Ricky N. Grigg, a telephone and computer maintenance shop chief at Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28, were living in West Palm Beach while Ricky was assigned to 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
“I drove that route every morning,” Trish explained.
Then, while Trish’s car was still stuck at the red light, a large vehicle that Trish estimated to be a seven-ton truck, sped out of control and smashed into the back of her 1998 Toyota Rav4, totaling the small SUV.
“I didn’t even realize what hit me,” said Trish. “It changed my whole life.”
Trish’s neck was fractured in several places and radically changed her once active and outgoing lifestyle to one where she wasn’t able to walk for more than a year and a half.
“I’m still recovering,” Trish said.
Police reports directly attributed the morning collision to speeding, said Trish.
“Speeding happens most during the morning traffic rush to work,” said Vawter, “But it’s funny because when we catch speeders, they end up being late for work anyway.”
Vawter added that people should give themselves a little extra time, especially during the winter months.
The speed limit aboard the air station is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted, but it never exceeds 45 mph.
“Cruise control is always a good idea,” Trish added,” because nobody is perfect.”
Perfect or not, everybody can control the speed of their vehicle.