RAF Mildenhall: Base vows to address “very disturbing” rise in drink driving

The Main Gate at RAF Mildenhall

The Main Gate at RAF Mildenhall - Credit: Archant

A US air base in west Suffolk has vowed to address what one leading official has branded a “very disturbing” rise in drink-driving offences.

Staff at RAF Mildenhall have been caught drink-driving five times since February 16 – the majority of which have happened off-base, with the base’s indiscretions this year accounting for more than a fifth of the total offences across the county.

Six incidents have been recorded at the base since the start of the year, compared to five at RAF Lakenheath and none at nearby RAF Alconbury.

Colonel David Cox, vice commander of the bases’s 100th Air Refuelling Wing, said: “Any DUI (driving under influence) is unacceptable, and five since the middle of February is very disturbing,

“I’m not naive. If 99% of our airmen don’t drink and drive in a given weekend, based upon the base population, that means there’s probably 20 or 30 in a given weekend...doing this. It’s just a matter if they’re going to get caught or not.”

Five of the drink-driving incidents involving airmen have happened off-base in 2014.

So far this year, Suffolk Constabulary has had 24 people fail a breath test or refuse to submit a sample. Col Cox said some of the incidents had resulted in minor injuries, and last year Staff Sgt Anderson Johnson died in a single-car accident while twice the legal limit.

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Data from the base since 2008 shows that there has been between nine and 18 drink-driving incidents per year involving RAF Mildenhall staff.

There has also been a spike in the number of people using the base’s Airmen Against Drunk Driving shuttle service.

The base runs a 5-2 traffic safety initiative, targeting five dangers behind the wheel including drink-driving, and this will be stepped up for the summer months.

The first incident this year also broke a streak at the base of more than 120 days without an incident.

“I would say we’re a little bit ahead of what statistically we should be, but we’re not ahead of a high of 18,” added Col Cox.