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Drive safe over the winter holidays

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – Larry the Crash Dummy reminds departing Lakenheath motorists to be careful Dec. 17 at the Lakenheath main gate. The 48th FW Safety Office encourages all drivers to practice safe driving habits this holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – Larry the Crash Dummy reminds departing Lakenheath motorists to be careful Dec. 17 at the Lakenheath main gate. The 48th FW Safety Office encourages all drivers to practice safe driving habits this holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Col. William Lewis, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander, hands out safety cards to motorists arriving on base Dec. 17. The 48th FW Safety office encourages all drivers to practice safe driving habits this holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Col. William Lewis, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander, hands out safety cards to motorists arriving on base Dec. 17. The 48th FW Safety office encourages all drivers to practice safe driving habits this holiday season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman David Dobrydney)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The area around Lakenheath had another blast of winter weather recently, bringing ice, snow and potential danger.

To drive home the importance of safe driving in winter, wing leadership turned out Dec. 17 to see off their troops for the weekend and hand out safety cards. Joining them were Crash Dummies Vince and Larry, as well as a wrecked automobile that stood as testament to those who weren't so lucky.

"If we can get the message across and save one life when someone looks at this and does the right thing, then we've done our job," said Lt. Col Raymond Reyes, 48th Contracting Squadron commander.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Alexander, 48th Fighter Wing chief of safety said last year, RAF Lakenheath had its first fatality free year in five years.

"We need to continue this positive trend and it starts with no fatalities during the holiday season," he said.

If you are driving anywhere this winter, it's important to be prepared. According to the Highway Agency, regularly servicing and checking your vehicle is in good running order before setting out will reduce your chances of breaking down. Motorists should check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator, make sure lights are clean and check the bulbs, ensure windscreens are clean, replace the battery if it's not reliable and ensure tires are correctly inflated.

Even if a car is in working order, breakdowns and accidents can still occur. Driving conditions become more hazardous when the temperature drops below 3 degrees Celsius (38 degrees Fahrenheit). The only way to know this is by having a thermometer that measures the outside temperature in the car. 'Black ice' can quickly form when the temperature dips below freezing, and can remain in shaded areas such as under bridges. Should your car become stranded, a survival kit, containing such items as an ice scraper, flashlight with spare batteries, a blanket, first aid kit, jumper cables and reflective warning sign can come in handy.

Ice and snow usually means slower traffic. However, U.S. personnel both military and dependent on RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall should remember that overtaking is prohibited on the following roads: the A1101 between Littleport and Bury St. Edmunds; the B1065 between Brandon and the Five Ways roundabout; the B1112 between Icklingham and Feltwell; the B1107 between Brandon and Thetford; the C620 Wangford Road between the A1065 and B1112; the Sedge Fen Road connecting the B1112 near Lakenheath village and the A1101; and the Holywell Row Road connecting the A1101 and the B1112.

If a driver must pass, the other vehicle must be moving less than 30 mph and even then, only pass on straight roads. Any driver violating the no-passing policy will face appropriate disciplinary action, including revocation of driving privileges.

Another practice that will result in disciplinary action is drinking and driving. In the U.K., the legal limit is 0.8 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of blood. On the European continent, the limits are even lower. This makes having a designated driver a necessity.
"Make a plan, stick to your plan, and your plan should be to not drink and drive," said Colonel Alexander. "If your plan breaks down, call a taxi or as a last resort call [Airmen Against Drunk Driving] at 226-2233."

"We want everyone back after the holiday season," said Colonel Alexander. "Your Lakenheath family depends on you!"