Air base bosses in road pledge

BOSSES at an American air base which is grieving the deaths of five people killed on the same stretch of road have called on US drivers to obey an overtaking ban or risk punishments.

BOSSES at an American air base which is grieving the deaths of five people killed on the same stretch of road have called on US drivers to obey an overtaking ban or risk punishments.

Colonel Richard Devereaux, of the RAF Mildenhall's 100th Air Refuelling Wing, said he hoped serviceman and women at the station and staff at RAF Lakenheath would show "self-regulation" and stop overtaking on roads near both bases.

The demands come in the wake of seven fatalities in the last seven months and five deaths on the A1101 road close to the base in the last two weeks.

Todaysees the launch of Operation Street Smart as 20,000 personnel from both USAF bases are given tough road safety guidance from military bosses.


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Col Devereaux said: "I have assigned banning overtaking in some of the areas around the base. It is an order we have given to our people and they are trained from day one that if they are given an order, they have to comply.

"I don't think it will be necessary to enforce the order and check up on our people. But if they are found to break the rules, they must face the appropriate action."

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Col Devereaux said individual squadron commanders would decide on the appropriate punishment. He ruled out a suggestion that the bases were planning to ban military personnel from using certain roads around each station.

Col Devereaux added: "We will be trying to make available alternative routes of travel for our folks. We want to teach old fashioned defensive driving, telling people to be careful and pay attention."

In conjunction with the launch of the campaign, a road safety day is being held today for military personnel and their families at RAF Mildenhall.

Col Devereaux said: "We hope Operation Street Smart will help us get our vehicle accident rate down to zero for these major accidents.

"We are working closely hand in hand with Suffolk Police as for this operation to be successful, it has to be a joint effort."

Staff Sgt SeanBortel, 26, of the 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, died on Tuesdayafter his car was involved in a collision with a lorry on the A1101 at Shippea Hill in Cambridgeshire.

The accident was just three miles from the scene of a crash last month, which killed Cortina Hamilton, her children Alyssa, three, and Malik, 22 months, and her stepson Jalin, five. The family was killed after their car careered into a ditch at Burnt Fen, near Mildenhall.

Col Devereaux added: "USAF is a big family and a big part of that is right here at RAF Mildenhall. This family is still in mourning after the five deaths over the last two weeks.

"The base is still in mourning and folks here are still dealing with that loss. It is challenging for Americans to come over here and drive on the other side of the road than they are used to.

"We are telling our motorists to drive carefully, slow down and just because there is a 60mph speed limit, it doesn't mean you have to drive 60mph."

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