Yokota creates surge of safety
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - -- Many aspects of driving change depending on where you are in the world. Countries such as Germany and the United States require drivers to be on the right side of the road, while in other parts of the world including Japan, drivers are required to drive on the left side. But regardless of where you are, there are always laws to follow and safety precautions that make driving safer for everyone.
The 374th Security Forces Squadron decided to, rather than lecture about being safe during the July 4 weekend, actively ensure the community was safe and prepared for the long weekend.
July 3, 2013, more than 20 SFS staff function members joined forces with their patrolmen counterparts and set up compliance checks throughout Yokota to check drivers' documents and remind them to drive safely.
"We are checking for paperwork such as military issued ID cards, certificates of purchase, vehicle registrations and current road tax and insurance," said Capt. Yoshio Adachi, 374th SFS traffic safety surge lead.
"We aren't out to get anyone, but if we happen to see something that is out of compliance it is our duty to report it," he added. "It's mainly community reinforcement. Hopefully drivers will realize to drive safer and slower, and to have all their required paperwork and be prepared when driving in a foreign country."
The thought of 100 percent checks on a base with nearly 10,000 people could sound like an inconvenience, but Adachi placed check points in high traffic areas with nearby and convenient parking to help displace possible traffic jams.
Adachi's considerations paid off according to 2nd Lt. Branden Turnbough, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who went through a checkpoint himself.
"I am glad they are doing this," Turnbough said. "I don't want something bad to happen to one of my guys and wonder why things went the way they did. These [compliance checks] are taking some responsibility off of us and I am grateful."
Representatives from the 374th Airlift Wing safety office also supported the surge by assisting in the promotion of safe driving at Yokota.
Tech. Sgt. Laury Napoleoni, 374 AW safety office, said the goal of the surge was to promote safe driving, preparedness and enforce traffic safety rules. The following list is some basic laws to follow while driving at Yokota and basic documentation to keep current and on-hand:
- Follow speed limits. Be aware of road signs and changing speeds.
- Stop at stop signs. In Japan all railroad crossings require complete stops.
- Wear seat belts. Seat belts save lives and military members are required by law to wear them.
- Maintain safe driving distances. Ensure there is enough room between yourself and the vehicle in front of you to stop without crashing into the vehicle.
- 4EJ license (valid)
- Joint Compulsory Automotive Insurance (current)
- Vehicle Insurance
- Road tax sticker and receipt
According to Adachi, there were no statistics or incidents that called this surge to action. He said it was simply to ensure the Yokota community was safe and prepared.
"It is really important for traffic safety, because there are a lot of people on base and the location, geometrically, is very small," Adachi said. "The base is very high population density and off base is even more so, so it is important to practice safe driving skills and keep everyone out of harm's way.
"Also school is out and it is summer time, so there are more people walking or biking around base," he added. "Traffic safety is always important but especially when we have children out and about playing around Yokota."