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Safety officials stress safe driving on 'Bemiss 500'

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Deputy Raymond Devogt, Lowndes County Sheriff’s deputy, pulls over a speeding driver on Bemiss Road here March 27.  Deputy Devogt ensures that Bemiss Road motorists follow the rules of the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelita Lawrence)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Deputy Raymond Devogt, Lowndes County Sheriff’s deputy, pulls over a speeding driver on Bemiss Road here March 27. Deputy Devogt ensures that Bemiss Road motorists follow the rules of the road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelita Lawrence)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Deputy Raymond Devogt, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, patrols Bemiss Road here March 27.  Deputy Devogt and the LCSO constantly monitor area roads to ensure public saftey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelita Lawrence)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Deputy Raymond Devogt, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, patrols Bemiss Road here March 27. Deputy Devogt and the LCSO constantly monitor area roads to ensure public saftey. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Angelita Lawrence)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Everyday, thousands of Airmen drive Bemiss Road to and from work without giving a second thought to the safety precautions that should be taken every time they drive.

On many days, drivers appear to be living out their NASCAR dreams by speeding down the legendary "Bemiss 500" well beyond the posted 45 miles-per-hour speed limit.

"Even in the summer, when the roads are busier, Airmen must remain patient and courteous when traveling," said Joe Bell, 23rd Wing Safety deputy chief of ground safety. "Your attitude on the road can really go a long way in protecting yourself and others on high-traffic roadways like Bemiss."

Routinely, travelers on Bemiss break the speed limit by 20-30 MPH, added Mr. Bell. These speeds can add to the hazards already encountered on the highway.

Since the road serves as an outlet for many local-area communities and a main artery into downtown Valdosta, congestion and unsafe driving habits become commonplace, he said. These habits include speeding through yellow lights and improper changing of lanes.

"To combat unsafe driving, we would like to remind Airmen to go the speed limit of 45 MPH," said Mr. Bell. "If there is water run-off or harsh weather, Airmen should slow down and drive the speed the conditions allow to keep themselves and members of the community safe-- sometimes even 45 MPH is too fast."

Although Airmen should already be practicing the rules of the road, local police officers who monitor Bemiss remind Moody members they're there for the safety of all travelers.

"Our goal is to keep people safe," said Capt. Herbert Bennett, Lowndes County Sheriffs Office patrol division. "People should always be aware of their driving, particularly on a busy road such as Bemiss. I do understand the importance of getting home quickly, but you also need to arrive safely."

Those who choose not to follow the road laws can face penalties, including tickets and even arrest, Captain Bennett said. "It all depends on how fast you were going, and how reckless you were being."

Motor-vehicle accidents have also been a recurring theme on Bemiss, the Air Force requires Airmen to fill out an incident/accident report to notify the Wing Safety Office when they are in an automobile accident.

"Although some accidents do fall through the cracks, the other law enforcement agencies sometimes will notify us of any Airman in an automobile accident," said Mr. Bell. "Airmen should remember ''integrity first' when you get in an accident. If we have too many traffic incidents occurring with a particular Airman, he or she may be required to attend a driver's improvement course."

Expenses for bad driving habits can also include the possibility of increased insurance payments, or losing insurance coverage all together, if an Airman accumulates too many traffic violations.

"Losing insurance coverage isn't the worst-case scenario, its possible that Airmen may lose their life because of improper or aggressive driving habits." said Mr. Bell. "Really, we just want our Airman to be safe; they're valuable assets to the Moody community."

Unfortunately, Moody has recently experienced the consequences of these traffic accidents.

"We've had two fatalities in the past three years in the vicinity of the base, both occurring directly outside our gates," he added. "Respecting the rules of the road can not only save others lives, but yours as well.

"Everyone wants to get home to see their loved ones after work," added Mr. Bell. "We just want to make sure that you get home in one piece."