New Year’s Day will bring a bunch of new rules for drivers at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.

Along with the new rules comes a holiday “gift” from base commander Capt. Tim Davidson — everyone gets to start the year with a clean driving record.

Davidson will be wiping the slate clean for drivers who have accrued points on their on-base driving records for traffic and parking violations.

Davidson recently signed a new motor vehicle traffic enforcement instruction that covers everything from anonymous driving complaints to traffic court appearances.

“The reason we have implemented the new policy change is because we’ve had almost a 20 percent increase in traffic accidents over last year,” the base executive officer, Capt. Ken Bitar, told the Sigonella base newspaper. “Many of them have occurred with people just not obeying the traffic laws and people not paying attention.”

Bitar also said the increase in accidents has led to a 30 percent rise in car insurance rates for Sigonella’s drivers.

April Slater, the base’s deputy director for safety, said that the current point-based program wasn’t working for some drivers.

“Some people were not concerned about points,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of problems in the past.”

So now, as well as having points put on their driving records, drivers receiving a ticket will be sent to traffic court. There, penalties can range from being assigned to attend the American Automobile Association’s Driver Improvement Program to suspension of driving privileges.

Most Navy-issued tickets, she said, are given as a result of traffic accidents either on or off base. An American driver will receive a ticket and will go to traffic court if security is called to an off-base accident where the American has broken a driving law, Slater said.

“Once people hit traffic court, and they’re assigned to the [AAA course] or have their base driving privileges suspended, this will hopefully make an impression on them,” Slater said.

She said it is hoped the changes will cut down on accidents and increase people’s awareness of their driving habits.

Along with the new rules, the command is pushing driving safety from the time residents arrive on base. All new base personnel and driving-age family members are given the AAA course shortly after their arrival.

The changes ...

Changes to Sigonella’s driving instruction range from long-term parking locations to improper passing of other vehicles. Major changes include:

Anonymous complaints will be noted on a person’s driving record. Drivers will be assigned to the AAA Driver’s Improvement Program after a second anonymous complaint.Vehicles left in a non-long-term parking spot for more than 96 hours will be considered abandoned if security can’t get in touch with the owner. Long-term parking is available just north of the NAS II galley.Drivers of vehicles entering Sigonella’s bases must show their Motor Vehicle Registration Office-issued vehicle registration pass, instead of a base decal.All those refusing or failing to appear for traffic court will have points placed on their driving record and lose on-base driving privileges for up to two weeks. Military members will also be brought up on Uniform Code of Military Justice charges.Drivers with three parking tickets in a six-month period will attend traffic court and have their on-base vehicle registration pass revoked for 30 days. Each additional ticket within six months will cost the driver another 30-day pass revocation.Anyone charge with driving while intoxicated will have driving privileges revoked for one year.Base security personnel will ticket drivers for improper passing. Drivers who receive two tickets within three months will have driving privileges revoked for one week. After a driver’s third offense, privileges will be suspended for a month and the person will be required to attend the AAA Driver’s Improvement Program.— Jason Chudy

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