Yokosuka out to reverse accident trend
Stars and Stripes June 7, 2007
Pacific edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — If you’re thinking of answering your cell phone while driving around Yokosuka Naval Base, think again.
The base has stepped up enforcement of its traffic rules and is considering a new policy that could suspend your license for 90 days, said a base official Tuesday.
A sharp rise in traffic accidents prompted Yokosuka to put more patrols on the streets and start a review of the base’s traffic regulations, said Chief Staff Officer Cmdr. Jon Lundquist.
“We have to do something to break this train,” Lundquist said. “We have to change people’s behavior.”
Part of the response is to strictly enforce existing policies, Lundquist said.
There are more patrols on the lookout for people speeding, chatting on the phone and not wearing their seat belt or properly buckling in their children, he said.
The base also is looking at imposing stiffer penalties on distracted and unsafe drivers, Lundquist said. Currently, a point system suspends driving privileges if the driver racks up 12 points in one year or 18 points in two years, according to the base Web site.
The base is considering following the lead of Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where speeding, cell phone use, and seat-belt and child-restraint violations automatically result in a 90-day driving suspension, he said.
“We know that things are different here than in Hawaii,” Lundquist said. “But we’re actively reviewing the instruction.”
Yokosuka is governed by two instructions that will be combined into one single document in the future, Lundquist said.
After the new policy is drafted, it will go before the commanders for input, and then an education program will let people know what any new rules are before they take effect, Lundquist said, adding that the base hopes to start enforcing the new policy Aug. 1.
“Most accidents are because of inattention to detail,” Lundquist said. “No matter what the circumstance, our accidents rates don’t change. The ships are in, the ships are out. We see accidents across every pay grade and with spouses and children. We have to do something.”
Yokosuka’s current driving instructions are posted at www.cfay.navy.mil/security/policies.htm.