A National Aeronautics and Space Administration aircraft taxis across Lee Road on Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 7. Vehicles traveling along Lee Road are failing to properly stop to give way to on-coming aircraft and/or airfield response vehicles. (Courtesy photo/Released)
Drivers pass the airfield traffic signals on Lee Road on Langley Air Force Base, Va., Feb. 9. Drivers on base must yield to oncoming aircraft and/or flightline vehicles crossing Lee Road. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Strong/Released)
by Tech. Sgt. Randy Redman
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2/10/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Motorcycle and automobile accidents remain a top concern for U.S. military leaders. In 2011, the Air Force suffered more than 50 off-duty fatalities.
Here the unique airfield layout and taxiway configurations are causing almost daily traffic infractions.
The major problems lie at the intersections of Lee Road, and Taxiway's Hotel and Juliet, which run between the airfield and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Hangar. These areas pose a significant threat to both driver and aviation assets using the airfield.
Master Sgt. Jason Kretschmer, 1st Operations Support Squadron deputy airfield manager, said vehicles traveling along Lee Road are failing to properly stop to give way to on-coming aircraft and/or airfield response vehicles.
"Some drivers obey the traffic signals, while others either disregard them because a lack of understanding of what is being protected. Or they don't see anything coming, and are used to just driving through," said Kretschmer, adding that due to deterioration, the signals did not function properly, and gave drivers a false signal in the past.
"Drivers would sit for a considerable amount of time with no movement, become inpatient and just drive through. This became the norm. Individuals that have been on Langley for some time may be used to seeing the light signals function improperly," said Kretschmer. "However, last year NASA upgraded the systems by replacing the taxiway sensors, traffic signals and power supply."
It is a given that drivers should obey all traffic rules. This is even more important where roadways cross active airfield surfaces as they do here at Langley.
Drivers on base should be aware that the traffic signals on Lee Road are not in the standard configuration seen with normal traffic signals; above and/or to the right of the intersection.
To meet airfield clearance criteria, the signals are placed near the ground along the right shoulder of the roadway, as driven, prior to each intersection, and will show either a green or red arrow. There is no amber warning light in this design, but a loud buzzer will sound if an aircraft is approaching.
There are quite a few Air Force Instructions that govern airfield driving, which in this case includes a road normally not associated with the flightline; including AFI 13-213, Airfield Driving, AFI 13-204V3, Airfield Operations Procedures and Programs, AFMAN 24-306, Manual for Wheeled Vehicle Driver and others. It is also important to note that vehicles not performing official duties should never turn left or right from Lee Road onto the active airfield taxiway.
Kretschmer said potential fines could result from damage to government or personal property. If an individual is an airfield driver, and the infraction includes directives listed in the local airfield driving instructions, there could be a loss of flightline driving privileges. Depending on the severity of the circumstance, the individual's airfield driving privileges are either permanently revoked, or temporarily suspended until retraining is completed.
"If the individual is a non-airfield qualified driver and the infraction does not include airfield driving directives, there is no loss of driving privileges from Airfield Management. However, suspension of airfield driving privileges is non-disciplinary in nature," said Kretschmer.
Punitive disciplinary actions are at the discretion of the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, and individual's the unit commander. Individuals with questions can contact Airfield Management at 757-764-2504.