Yokosuka's sign makes a positive switch
May 12, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Those caught drinking and driving no longer get their command name in lights.
Nor will passers-by be able to track the number of days between drinking-and- driving incidents.
Yokosuka Naval Base’s electronic “sign of shame” at the main gate has become the “sign of fame” since the base stopped publicizing alcohol-related information on the marquee.
Now the sign shows good-news information: names of the “sailors and civilian of the quarter,” re-enlistments, awards to individuals and units and local channel TV programming.
Putting drinking-and-driving information on the marquee started as an “experiment in deterrence” in 2004 by former base commander Capt. King Dietrich.
Before that, the sign advertised only the number of days between incidents.
According to a 2004 Stars and Stripes article, officials believed that displaying the command and the rank of the offender would cause people “to think twice” before getting behind the wheel.
Several other military bases in Japan adopted this approach. Misawa Air Base lists units, number of incidents and time between incidents on a “Driving Under the Influence (DUI)/Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Hitboard” on the front page of the base’s newspaper. Kadena Air Base has a clock indicating how many days between DUIs.
Base spokesman Bill Doughty said officials couldn’t tell if Yokosuka’s sign contributed to the downward trend of alcohol- related incidents.
“We have no way of measuring cause- and-effect deterrence strictly tied to information appearing on the sign,” Doughty said. “We are noticing a decrease in alcohol-related incidents over the past few months, in general.”
Although all specific information has been wiped off the marquee, it still reminds people “Drink, Drive, Die” and that there are alcohol checkpoints at different points on base.
“We’ll periodically re-evaluate and reconsider what we put on the marquee,” Doughty said.