Military News

Friday, May 01, 2015

COMMENTARY: Two quick paths to end your career or a life or both

by Master Sgt. Brian Boisvert
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/1/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- This Friday starts an extended weekend for Airmen assigned to RAF Mildenhall and it is important to recharge without taking unnecessary risks.

The temptation to quickly get to a holiday location and relax or have the first cookout of the season may see excessive speeding or alcohol creeping into planned events.

U.K. law states, "You must not drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road and your type of vehicle. The speed limit is the absolute maximum and it doesn't mean it's safe to drive at this speed in all conditions."

According to U.K. driving statistics, in 2013, 3,064 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes where speed was a factor. Additionally, Driving Under the Influence attributed to 260 deaths in 2013 in the U.K or 13 percent of all road fatalities.

Team Mildenhall Airmen get DUI's not just because they are getting drunk and then driving home that night, but there is also a secondary issue. Drivers who are too drunk to drive and choose to safely sleep it off are going to bed drunk, waking up some time later refreshed, and then incorrectly assuming that because they no longer feel intoxicated, they are good to drive when in fact, they may still be inebriated.

"One-in-three U.K. drivers admit to driving after drinking any amount of alcohol in the last year," stated Brake, The Road Safety Charity. "Almost one-in-five admit driving the morning after having a lot to drink, when they are likely to still be over the limit."

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is .08 Blood Alcohol Content.  In most European countries, to include Scotland, the limit is .05 BAC, or less.

The amount of alcohol that must be consumed to be considered over the driving limit varies from person to person. This difference is dependent on an individual's weight, gender, metabolism rate, current stress levels, how much food a person has eaten, and the age of the individual with younger individuals processing alcohol slower than older people.  Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.

"Arrests for drink driving between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. rose by 13 incidents in 2011 to 363 in 2012," stated Brake.

There is no fool-proof way of drinking and staying under the legal limit or any way to fool your blood into thinking there is less alcohol in it than there actually is. Only time allows your body to metabolize alcohol and guarantee a BAC that is within limits.

"Imagine you're drinking until three or four in the morning and you wake up at 8 a.m.," Dr. Paul Wallace, chief medical adviser to the U.K. based charity Drinkaware said. "If you've had six or seven units, you could still have several units of alcohol in your body when you start your day. This is because your body can only process around one unit an hour. Sleep, coffee, and cold showers don't help to sober you up, only time will help."

The 100th ARW Safety office reminds everyone to be safe this weekend and return safely.

If the potential loss of your career, your life, or the potential loss of someone else's life isn't enough to deter you from speeding or drinking and driving, anyone caught over the legal alcohol limit when driving will be banned from driving on base for a minimum of 12 months and can receive fines up to £5,000.  This is the U.K. driving penalties only and does not include additional actions under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

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