Chapter 4 – Driving In Europe
CHAPTER 4 – DRIVING IN EUROPE
Last Update: 30 MAR 03 (CPT Weddell, Force Protection)
Travel within Europe has become increasingly “user friendly” since the wall came down in 1990, with the formation of the European Union (EU) and the concept of “open borders”. The message for US Service Members and their accompanied family members is BE PREPARED! You might ask, Be Prepared for what? Let’s consider travel and security. Whenever you travel between NATO / EU countries you should carry the following documents: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Military Identification Card. Your Military Identification Card is your link to Military affiliation and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) protections. USAREUR Drivers License. A requirement to operate a USAREUR licensed vehicle. USAREUR Vehicle Registration. International Drivers License. Proof of vehicle insurance (Green card issued from your insurance company). DA Form 31 (if on pass or leave). Passports (for travel to non-NATO SOFA counties; such as Austria, Switzerland, and other former Eastern Block countries.
When traveling between EU countries, as a rule of thumb, the “borders are open” to facilitate easy access for commerce. It is not unusual for countries to conduct official and random boarder checkpoints to search for and deter Black-marketing, Contraband or Illegal Aliens. This is a measure taken to reduce criminal activity across international borders; cooperation and being prepared are your keys to success. It is important to remember that Nations retain the right to stop traffic and conduct searches at any international boarder. This is no different than if you landed at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Seoul, Korea, or drove into California or Texas from Mexico. Again, if you are detained by any Nations police force you should present your requested identity documents. Present either your Military Identification Card as your link to Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) protections or your passport. Upon your return remember to inform your chain of command of any incidents that occur while you are away from home.
USAREUR Driver’s License
Your car will eventually be registered with USAREUR (US Army Europe) license plates. Possession of a USAREUR driver’s license is a requirement in order to drive a car with USAREUR plates. USAREUR Regulation 190-1, Registering and Operating Motor Vehicles in Germany, states that once you officially sign into your unit and are stationed in Germany, you may not drive any vehicle, including a rental vehicle, without a USAREUR driver’s license. To obtain a USAREUR driver’s license you must have a current stateside driver’s license or a current European driver’s license. The USAREUR license is valid for 6 years. On the day of testing there is a mandatory drivers orientation class from 8:30 – 10:00 AM, followed by a vision test, a test on international road signs and written test. You can obtain the study guide once you arrive from the US NSE, the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office at GK or from the Internet at http://rmv.hqusareur.army.mil. People do fail the test, so studying is important. - The USAREUR driver’s education class is held on Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 AM in building 104 at NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen (GK). You should bring your current stateside driver’s license, military ID card, a check or money order for $10.00 (or the current fee) and a pen or pencil. You do not need to sign up in advance for the orientation, just please be on time. - Contact the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office for more information: Building 84 02451-63- 4924 or 2228 Mon to Fri 0830 - 1230
Chapter 4 – Driving In Europe
International Driver’s License
An international drivers license is required for travel in Austria and Spain and strongly recommended for travel outside of Germany. It is recommended that you obtain an International Driver’s License in the United States and before your arrival. Licenses are not valid in the country of issue (if one is issued in Germany, it is not valid for operating a vehicle in Germany) and because it is required for family members in order to drive outside of Germany. - If you obtain a license in Germany, you will need to take a passport size photo, the current fee (approximately 10 Euros) and your USAREUR license to the County Administration “Kreisverwaltung” offices.
USAREUR Regulation 190-1, Registering and Operating Motor Vehicles in Germany, states that current and valid automobile insurance is a requirement prior to registering a USAREUR plated vehicle. Owners should be aware that if your insurance is cancelled or suspended, your vehicle registration is also cancelled and the process for re-registration must begin from inspection to a repayment of fees. Auto insurance in Germany may cost more than equivalent insurance in the US. There are several reasons for this such as high medical and disability pension costs and the high minimum liability insurance required by German law.
The USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office at GK has a list of USAREUR approved auto insurance companies in the local area. The following list is a few of the more frequently used ones. AIU Insurance Building 81, Geilenkirchen GEICO Insurance Frankfurt069-550209 USAA Insurance Frankfurt
00800-53181110 (toll free within Germany)
- Contact the Transportation Motor Officer to find out if your car has arrived at Schinnen. Vehicle Processing Center (VPC) 0031-046-443-2851 Monday – Friday 0900 - 1600 - Once your vehicle arrives at the servicing VPC, bring your shipping document (DD Form 788), USAREUR driver’s license, proof of insurance (double white insurance cards), and proof of ownership to the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office at GK. You will receive a temporary registration that is valid for 7 days. The registration fee is $15.00 and payable in US check or money order (no cash). - You must have your vehicle inspected within these 7 days. Pick up the inspection form from the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office at GK when you receive you temporary license plates. The NATEX garage on NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen, building 65 South (02452-6207-41/42) conducts vehicle inspections on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0800 – 1200. After the vehicle inspection is complete return to the Vehicle Registration office and complete the processing. Once your car is registered it is valid for 1 year and must be re-inspected prior to registration renewal annually. Each service member stationed in USAREUR is authorized maximum of 2 vehicles and a recreational vehicle for married
Chapter 4 – Driving In Europe
accompanied personnel and 1 vehicle for married unaccompanied or single personnel. You can request an exception to policy for more than your maximum number of vehicles registered if you are selling one vehicle and buying another. If you plan to buy a car while here in Germany, please stop by POV for the registration and customs information before you buy.
There are two types of fuel coupons available to US personnel at JHQ. The standard PX (Esso) coupons and the NATO Forces fuel coupons. For NATO / British Petrol Coupons take your vehicle registration and Euros to the cashier’s window of Building 39 at the RASU Unit Imprest Holder near gym 2 on JHQ. British fuel coupons tend to be less expensive than PX coupons and can be used in Germany at any BP, Esso and Shell service stations. Esso fuel coupons are sold at the AAFES PX on JHQ or the customer service / cashier window at Schinnen. They have different types of coupons for Esso gas stations (1) for Germany only or (2) for Germany and The Netherlands; so look carefully at what you are buying. These coupons may also be used in BP stations along the German autobahns and at the BP station near the NAAFI on camp. Look for the book “Tigering Through Germany” at the JHQ PX or the AAFES Bookmark at Schinnen, which lists the locations of Esso stations throughout Germany. You're limited in the amount of fuel you can purchase each month (generally 400 liters per auto) and your gas ration card is the white slip of your USAREUR vehicle registration. You are also authorized to use the NATEX service station on GK and they accept credit cards or Euros. Gas coupons are valid for one year or until the expiration date stated on them. If you have coupons that have expired, you can turn them in at AAFES for a replacement issue of new coupons. You can also redeem unused coupons if you sell your car since, technically speaking; coupons should only be used for the car for which they were purchased. There are a few Esso gas stations in the Rheindahlen/Geilenkirchen/AFCENT/Schinnen area: - On 57 between the town of Rheindahlen and Kipshoven - On B-221 near the A46 entrance (Heinsburg) - On 56 in Wehr - On 274 in Schinveld, NL - In Hoensbroek, NL near the corner with Gamma - Note: ESSO stations taking coupons in NL are limited. Check before fueling up.
There are criminal elements in large cities in Europe just like in the big cities back home. Take care to use caution and be aware while traveling. Secure easily pilfer able items in the trunk of your car. Many cities in Germany and in The Netherlands identify parking lots with large blue "P" signs. Often, these parking lots are pay lots. In some of the lots, you receive a ticket as you enter and then (1) pay at a walk-up ticket cashier “kasse” machine before you get in your car to leave or (2) pay at a cashier located near the vehicle entrance. In other lots you don’t receive a ticket as you enter the lot but must go to the walk-up ticket machine “Parkshein-automat” to pay and receive a ticket. You then place it on your dashboard for as long as you park there (note the length of time your ticket is good for is based on how much money you put in the machine). Some larger cities Aachen or Cologne (Koln), not only identify where parking lots are located in the inner city (Innenstadt or Stadtmitte), but for some lots, such as those underneath the Cathedral, the sign identifies how many parking spots are currently free in that parking garage. The large blue "P" signs showing a parking disk indicate that you may park for free in the area designated for a certain length of time, but that you must display your parking disk in the front window of your car. Parking disks are available for a small cost at most gas stations, including the NATEX gas station. To use a parking disk, set the dial so that the time you arrived (to the nearest half hour) lines up with the arrow on the disk and place the parking disk on your dashboard. For practice, use the parking lot at the US NSE and set your parking wheel.
Chapter 4 – Driving In Europe
You may wish to join an auto club when you arrive. Membership is relatively inexpensive and they offer roadside service anywhere in Germany and depending upon your plan, also in the neighboring countries. If you have not joined ADAC, service is available “on the spot” in cases of roadside emergencies. Visit www.adac.de for more information. The site is available in the German language only but there is an ADAC office next to the Bundespost office near the BP Service Station on camp. ADAC is a roadside assistance program similar to AAA in the US. It is a service for members only. You can become a member at the AIU insurance office on Geilenkirchen at building 81, 02451-69763 or at the ADAC office in downtown Monchengladbach. Some of the services offered to members are: - When calling from an autobahn emergency phone box, ask the operator for ADAC service - When calling from any other road, dial the ADAC roadside assistance number 01802-222222 - For vehicle recovery following breakdown, accident, or finding of stolen vehicle dial within Germany 08976-7670 or outside Germany 00-49-8922-2222 - ADAC offers roadside assistance up to 100 Euros, towing up to 150 Euros, and many other services as well (subject to change and depending on coverage ordered) - This is not an endorsement of this service, but is provided as information only - ADAC also has Europe-wide coverage ANWB in The Netherlands is a roadside assistance program. Call them at 0800-0503 toll free within The Netherlands for information on becoming a member or visit their Internet site at www.anwb.nl. Some of the services offered to members are: - An International Letter of Credit and Assistance that entitles you to help from foreign road assistance organizations and more - Member guides and route-planning maps - Personal and legal assistance abroad
If You Get in a Car Accident
Germany has a Good Samaritan Law that requires everyone, in case of an accident, common danger or distress, to render the appropriate aid expected under the circumstances. Failure to render aid may result in a fine or imprisonment based on the circumstances. Drivers will immediately notify Military or Security Police of accidents that occur on military installations. If the accident occurs off the installation, drivers will 1. 2. Notify the German Police. German Police may, however, not respond to accidents where no injuries are involved. Report the accident to the nearest Military Police Station within 72 hours. This will help the drivers if they are required to appear in civil court and when insurance companies require documented information. AE Form 190-1Y (What to do if you are involved in an accident) explains specific actions to take when involved in an accident. This form is located at the local vehicle registration office and should be kept in your POV with your vehicle insurance information.
Additional information: 1. Never leave the scene of the accident! Fleeing without making contact with the other driver or local police is considered “Hit and Run ” and a serious criminal offense. If you leave the scene of an accident, your insurance company may deny you coverage. 2. Take necessary emergency steps. If someone is injured, call for medical assistance via cell phone or the road side emergency call box that is located by following the white and black roadside reflectors. A black arrow at the top of the reflector will point you in the shortest direction to the call box. Warn oncoming traffic by placing a warning triangle 100 meters from the scene of the accident.
Chapter 4 – Driving In Europe
3. It is mandatory to exchange driver and insurance information. Attempt to obtain the information from other drivers and passengers involved in the accident (e.g. names, nationality, age, license number, vehicle registration number, and the name and address of the insurance company of other drivers involved). Provide your information and insurance carrier. 4. Once in a safe place, write down the facts surrounding the accident. Draw a diagram of the position of the vehicles involved, the direction vehicles were traveling, point of impact, and any other relevant information, such as position of traffic signs and signals near the scene. If a camera is handy, take pictures of the accident scene and of vehicle damage. Use reference points, KM markers and route names or numbers. 5. Cooperate with the local police, but do not admit guilt. The police report will be important evidence in determining fault. Give yourself time to formulate answers to police questions; if you are not careful, you may say something that could be used against you later. Cases have occurred, for example, in which an apology and comments such as “I’m sorry this happened” have been used in court as an admission of guilt. (Information from AE Form 190-1Y from the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office at GK Office in building 84 at Geilenkirchen.)
Seatbelts and Child Safety Seats
USAREUR Regulation 190-1, Registering and Operating Motor Vehicles in Germany, states that all vehicle occupants must use available restraint system devices (lap and shoulder belts). Additionally, German or host nation laws regarding children are as follows: 1. 2. Children age 11 or younger, or shorter than 150 centimeters (4 feet, 11 inches) are required to use child restraint devices (car seats) and must be seated in the rear seat of a POV. Children older than 11 years weighing less than 22 kilograms (48 pounds) will use a booster seat or other suitable devises designed for use with a vehicle’s three-point (lap and shoulder) seatbelt.
For teenage driver’s, the minimum age to drive in Germany is 17 years of age. If the teenager does not have a current stateside driver’s license and they are 16 years old or older, they can get a USAREUR operators permit by attending the 2 ½ hour orientation and passing the sign and written test; they will then receive a learner’s permit which is valid for 1 year. A person holding a valid USAREUR instructor’s license must teach the minor. A driver’s performance test is then required to obtain an operator’s license. Please note that an individual must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid license to drive in The Netherlands. - Contact the USAREUR Vehicle Registration Office for more information: Building 84 02451-63- 4924 or 2228 Mon to Fri 0830 - 1230