Assigning Points to Airfield Drivers Research Paper

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Furthermore, 34 other states offer insurance discounts of up to 10% following completion of such a course. Insurance points assigned by the individual insurance carrier are used to determine the cost of auto insurance and, therefore, are not reduced upon course completion (Young). In recent years, a number of states have adopted various forms of graduated licensing in an effort to manage the high crash rates among teenage drivers and, concomitantly, improve traffic safety for the public; such graduated licensing programs allow complete licensure only following the completion of a series of steps that involve removing the various restrictions from licensure have been satisfied (Williams, Weinberg, Fields, & Ferguson, 1996).

New Jersey's Motor Vehicle Services office has developed an online overview of the state's point system and includes the penalties for violating drunk driving laws, as a state with some of the most severe penalties for drunk driving and related offenses, New Jersey has found advertising those penalties an effective means of reducing drunk driving.(Teaching drivers, 2000). Likewise, under New Hampshire law, drivers 20 and younger convicted of speeding or other moving violations can lose their licenses for at least 20 days for a first offense, 60 days for a second offense and 90 days for a third (McCool, 1999). Florida adopted one of the most stringent graduated licensing programs in the United States. According to Ulmer and his colleagues (2000), the State of Florida has one of the most comprehensive graduated licensing programs in the United States today. These authors report that in order to obtain full licensure in Florida, new drivers under the age of 18 must first complete a training period with a learner's permit, which is subsequently replaced with an intermediate license. As the new drivers gain experience, the restrictions on driving are removed (Ulmer et al.). These researchers analyzed accident rates among drivers in Florida to crash rates among a comparable population of new drivers in Alabama, a neighboring state that does not have a graduated licensing system. These researchers reviewed accident rates for the period 1995 to 1997 to determine the efficacy of Florida's graduated licensing program on accident rates and found constant crash rates for 15, 16, 17, and 18-year-olds in Alabama for all years while Florida experienced a drop in crash rates for 15, 16, and 17-year-olds (with no change among 18-year-olds) after the first full year of Florida's graduated licensing program (Ulmer et al.). Moreover, fatalities and injury crashes among 15, 16, and 17-year-olds combined decreased a full 9% in Florida following the graduated licensure program implementation (Ulmer et al.).

A report from Scotland ("Drivers make a penalty point," 2006) points out, though, that, the majority of drivers think penalty points are an ineffective and unfair way of dealing with speeders. According to this report, "Two out of three motorists quizzed in a recent poll said the penalty point system didn't deter people from breaking the law, while only one in six thought speed cameras promoted road safety" (Drivers make a penalty point, 2006). The study in question was conducted by insurance intermediary the a&a Group, and also determined that younger drivers (e.g., 16 to 25-year-olds) experienced the highest average number of points (i.e., seven) on their licences. That number dropped to just over five for 26 to 34-year-olds, 4.5 for 35 to 50-year-olds and three for those aged 50 and over (Drivers make a penalty point). "Motorists have lost faith in the points system, so now is the time to take a fresh look at how best to police the roads and punish people who break the laws according to the severity of the offence. According to this reporter, "An alternative idea is stepped penalty points - the further over the speed limit the more points. This could even be tweaked for different roads so, for instance, much harsher penalties and smaller margins for roads near schools" (Drivers make a penalty point, p. 3). While the authorities continue to debate the efficacy of graduated licensure requirements for the general public, current approach to airfield driver regulation do not provide for such gradations, and these issues are discussed further below.

Current Approaches to Airfield Driver Regulation

The FAA reports that the basic runway and taxiway configurations of many airports in the United States were constructed prior to the jet age. Since that time, the volume of operations and the speed and size of aircraft that are using the country's airports have increased significantly. Concomitantly, there has also been an increased risk of runway incursions as a result. One factor that can contribute to runway incursions is airport configuration. Although these pre-jet age airfields can and do safely accommodate large volumes of aircraft operations, the airfield has been a contributing factor in some runway incursions. To help overcome these constraints, carriers such as British Airways have recently adopted a "virtual airline model" as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Alternative airline business models.

Source: Doganis, 2001, p. 216.

Whichever approach is employed, vehicle/pedestrian incursions remain a fundamental concern for airport management and law enforcement alike because in some cases, the vehicle or pedestrian conflicts with an aircraft landing or takeoff, resulting in a runway incursion. In fact, even if the vehicle or pedestrian does not enter a runway, the deviation can divert the controller's attention from aircraft and other vehicles, which could result in an incident or accident. A key to reducing V/PDs is to ensure that those personnel who are authorized to drive on the airfield possess the requisite knowledge to do so safely; however, because every airport facility is unique, the driver knowledge required will differ depending on the airport and where the person is authorized to drive on the airfield. For instance, an airfield driver who is authorized to drive on runways needs to be knowledgeable about procedures for radio communications; in contrast, a person authorized to drive only on ramps would normally not require this knowledge. As a general rule, the FAA recommends that airfield vehicle operators need to know, as appropriate, the following at a minimum:

Airport rules and regulations pertaining to vehicle operations,

Areas where they are authorized to drive and designated entrance and exit points to these areas,

Location of perimeter roads,

Boundaries of the movement vs. nonmovement areas on the airfield, airport layout, including designations of runways and taxiways,

Meaning of airfield signs, marking, and lighting,

Proper phraseology, including phonetic alphabet, procedures, and frequencies for radio communication

Meaning of light gun signals;

Traffic patterns associated with each runway and location of each leg (i.e., downwind, base, final, and crosswind)

Airfield Driver Training

In the United States, airport operators have the primary responsibility of ensuring that airfield drivers possess the requisite knowledge of the above items before authorizing them to drive on the airfield. For this purpose, the FAA highly recommends that those who drive on the airfield be provided initial and recurrent training on these subjects and points out that the importance of such training on a regular basis cannot be overemphasized.

Airfield Vehicle Requirements

Requirements for vehicles will also differ depending on the airport, the type of vehicle, and where it will be operated on the airport. Generally, a vehicle operating on runways and taxiways should, as a minimum, have the following:

Marking designating the identification of the vehicle (e.g., OPS-1)

Minimum equipment, which must be in proper working order, such as headlights, taillights, mirrors, a speedometer, etc.

A rotating beacon two-way radio with the aviation frequencies

Insurance coverage

Airfield Vehicular Operations

The airport-established rules or regulations should provide adequate procedures for the safe and orderly operation of vehicles on the airport. Items to consider include the following:

Requirements for vehicles on the movement area to be radio-equipped or escorted by a radio-equipped vehicle;

Speed limits;

Prohibition against careless and reckless operation;

Time periods when vehicle lights must be operated;

Requirement to use vehicle lanes and perimeter roads;

Locations where vehicles may or may not be parked and/or serviced;

Rules of right-of-way (i.e., aircraft, emergency vehicles, and other vehicles);

Requirements to report accidents involving ground vehicles

Current Enforcement and Sanctions Alternatives for Airfield Drivers

The current procedures in place for enforcing the airport-established rules or regulations simply include various types of penalties for violations. Current penalties include monetary fines and/or the revocation or suspension of airport driving privileges; however, there are no incremental penalties involved and airfield drivers are therefore faced with an "all-or-nothing" sanction in cases of inappropriate driving episodes. Because airfield drivers' livelihood is directly tied to their ability to operate rolling stock on airfields, this "all-or-nothing" approach may be less effective than a graduated approach such as provided by a point system because airfield law enforcement authorities may be reluctant to deprive an individual of his or her job because of even a serious infraction.

The primary responsibility for airport vehicle operations is that of the respective airport…[continue]

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