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  • Published
  • By Maj. Jason Harris
  • 22nd Security Forces Squadron commander
I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few trends/issues we have seen in relation to traffic code violations at McConnell. Below I present anonymous, but real scenarios our police officers have encountered and the most correct responses/answers. What I want to highlight is that although the Air Force requires the use and assimilation of state law, the Department of Defense authorizes the installation commander latitude to establish more stringent requirements on their installation.

Scenario 1
While on installation patrol, "Sergeant Friday" notices an Airman talking on their cell phone while driving. Sergeant Friday pulls the Airman over.

As Sergeant Friday approaches, the Airman discontinues his cell phone conversation and asks Sergeant Friday why he was pulled over. Sergeant Friday relays that it is because he was talking on his cell phone while driving on base. The Airman doesn't agree since Kansas Law (the surrounding community) doesn't prohibit him from driving while talking on a cell phone. Despite this, Sergeant Friday cites the Airman for talking on his cell phone while driving on base.

Did Sergeant Friday do the right thing?

If you answered yes, you are correct. In this case, McConnell Air Force Base Instruction 31-204, "Installation Traffic Code," outlines some prohibited, unsafe practices and cell phone usage while driving is at the top of this list. More specifically, Paragraph 2.10. states that vehicle operators shall not use a cell phone or personal digital assistant while operating a motor vehicle on a military installation, unless safely parked or utilizing a hands-free device (i.e., single ear piece).

Scenario 2
While checking identification cards at the main entrance to McConnell, Sergeant Friday tells an Airman he's not authorized to proceed on base via his motorcycle because of the following reasons: he failed to provide any proof of graduating a beginner or experienced motorcycle rider's course and he failed to wear the proper footgear (the AirmanĀ is in tennis shoes).

The Airman says he forgot his motorcycle safety card at home and he'll never forget to wear hard soled/closed toe shoes again, but he really must be allowed to proceed because his commander is expecting him shortly to brief a distinguished visitor. Even with the Airman's pleas, Sergeant Friday again relays that the Airman will not be able to ride the motorcycle onto the installation.

Should the Airman have been allowed to proceed to his important meeting via his motorcycle?

If you said yes, let the troop go, he has a hot mission/tasker to complete, you would be wrong. In MAFBI 31-204, Paragraph 2.12.1 - 2.12.8, it states that the installation commander has a few more safety provisions for motorcycle riding, above and beyond what Kansas, or any other local, law requires. In addition to this instruction, people without a valid motorcycle permit and prior safety course training are subject to suspension of all base driving privileges. In addition to this instruction, if a motorcycle owner allows someone without the proper credentials to operate their motorcycle on base, they also face revocation. Paragraph 2.12.8 also states that all military personnel will wear all protective gear as indicated in the publication, at all times while on or off duty and on or off the installation.

Scenario 3
While performing installation entry control duties, Sergeant Friday notices an Airman's small child is not properly secured in the vehicle (child not in booster seat). The Airman relays that based on the kids age and weight, and according to Air Force Instructions and Kansas Law, , the child didn't need to be in a booster seat. Sergeant Friday still cites the Airman for failing to properly secure the child in a booster seat.

Was Sergeant Friday right to cite the Airman?

If you said yes, you are correct. The Installation Commander, through MAFBI 31-204, has set forth the 22nd Air Refueling Wing's requirement for the use of safety restraint systems for children. This is more restrictive than both state law and Air Force Instructions. At McConnell, children under 4 years of age or weighing less than 50 pounds (regardless of age) will be properly secured by an approved child restraint system. Additionally, children under 8 years of age, weighing less than 80 pounds or less than 4 feet 9 inches will be properly secured in an approved child booster seat.

The moral of the story, know the installation commander's policies and guidance. It may be a bit more restrictive or stringent than state laws or Air Force Instructions.