Naples traffic incidents prompt safety stand down
Stars and Stripes March 9, 2006
NAPLES, Italy — In the span of two weeks, two Naples-based sailors sullied a nearly two-year record of no reported driving-under-the-influence incidents. And within that same recent period, Naples-based personnel and their families racked up 16 vehicle crash reports.
The glum accounts have Naples-based leaders stepping in. On Tuesday, corralled personnel, American and Italians alike, faced safety briefings reminding them of what seemed obvious yet neglected of late: Don’t drink and drive, wear seat belts, don’t speed, don’t attempt to copy the crazy driving patterns of Italians, and yes, it’s unsafe to apply make-up while driving. Naval Support Activity Safety Director Al Zadlo showed candid-camera type photos of people driving on and off the military base committing some of those infractions.
Though Zadlo peppered his hourlong briefings with humor, he also used an array of tactics to direct hard-hitting messages to the wide scope of attendees. Some might have been gripped by an appeal to their sense of pride, others moved by devastating images of crushed metal that used to be cars, and others yet stirred by a photograph of a young child waiting in the street for a parent who would never arrive.
On Feb. 19, in one of the two recent DUI-related crashes, a 22-year-old Italian man was killed in a head-on collision involving an American sailor suspected of drunken driving, U.S. and Italian officials said. Two other Italians and three U.S. sailors were hospitalized.
As of Wednesday, the sailor, assigned to the Navy’s 6th Fleet, had not been charged in the incident, said an Italian police official. The matter is being considered by the Italian prefect and magistrate.
There were no injuries stemming from the second DUI incident.
“We’ve been having a few problems lately … and the safety stand down was necessary to get everyone back to ground zero,” said Chief Petty Officer Martin Arballolopez, the military manning analyst for Navy Region Europe.
“It was a very effective way to educate and reaffirm the zero-tolerance policy of the Navy and the awareness that we’re in a different country and the rules of the road are different,” Arballolopez said.
Navy bases worldwide employ a range of programs and incentives to curb traffic incidents, from rewarding designated drivers to delivering a stern, no-second-chances message on drug use and alcohol abuse.
In Naples too, the Chief Petty Officers Association pays for a Tipsy Taxi service, in which sailors can call for a free cab ride to one of two designated sites: NSA Capodichino or the support site at Gricignano.