Air Force implements new cell phone restriction

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Rosine
  • Air Force Print News

The Air Force is implementing a new cell phone restriction for drivers.

Beginning Feb. 27, drivers are not allowed to talk on their cell phones while driving on Air Force installations without a hands free device. This policy is part of the Department of Defense’s Joint Traffic Guidance.

This restriction also applies to all government owned vehicles, or GOVs, at all times. No GOV drivers are permitted to talk on a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device on or off base.

“This is really a cooperative effort for everyone from the base populace to the base leaders,” said Master Sgt. Gloria Ornelas, the superintendent of law enforcement for Air Force Security Forces. “I think it is long overdue. The DOD recognized that, and we are now in line with what some states and municipalities are doing to create a safer environment for drivers.”

Joint Traffic Regulation, Air Force Instruction 31-218 (I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, will restrict the use of cell phones while driving. Only cell phones with hands-free devices will be allowed for use by drivers. This guidance also allows the Air Force to use portable breath screening devices as long as they conform to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards.

The Defense Department’s joint traffic document states:

“Vehicle operators on a DOD Installation and operators of Government owned vehicles shall not use cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or unless they are using a hands-free device.

“The wearing of any other portable headphones, earphones or other listening devices (except for hand-free cellular phones) while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. Use of those devices impairs driving and masks or prevents recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, the approach of vehicles, and human speech. DOD component safety guidance should note the potential for driver distractions such as eating and drinking, operating radios, CD players, global positioning equipment, etc. Whenever possible this should only be done when the vehicle is safely parked."

Using a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device will be considered a "primary offense." This means violators will be able to be stopped solely for this offense.

Drivers who violate this cell phone driving restriction will be given three assessment points against their driving records or an appropriate fine. Drivers should be aware that if two or more violations are committed, even on a single occasion, a ticket may be given to the driver for each violation.

“It was recognized at the DOD level that we needed some changes,” Sergeant Ornelas said. “The winner here is the base populace. They will have more mobility while driving, a greater range of view -- in short, a safer driving environment for all.”