The US department of defense has published various regulations governing the conduct and action military personnel and civilians within the US itself and other installation outside the US. One of the installation under which stringent rules have been established is the US Army in Europe, (AER). Among the regulations made are the traffic rules. The Driver and Vehicle Requirements and the Installation Traffic Code for the U.S. Forces in Germany, establishes an installation traffic code governing the registration requirements and operation of motor vehicles in Europe. It supersedes the earlier AER regulation given in the year 2009. This regulation prescribes the procedure and policies for licensing individual driving privately owned motor vehicles, registering and inspecting these vehicles, and operating them and other recreation achiness on US military installation in Germany and Europe. The POV registration operations and licensing are conducted in line with the supplementary agreement to the Status of Forces agreement of NATO. This regulation alongside its provisions applies to all personnel of the US military and its civilian component including the family members, who are employed or assigned to work in Europe and those who are authorized to have a US forces certificate of license and the registration privileges of a privately owned vehicle as stipulated by the AER 600-700(Jones et al. 1).
This regulation is castigatory in nature, and desecration of the provisions provided by it, will bring the military personnel involved to an administrative or disciplinary action as appropriate. A person not subject to the uniform code of military justice, who violates this regulation, is subject to criminal or administrative sanctions. An individual found guilty of non-compliance with these regulations, on a US military installation, any pedestrian or state vehicular law, pedestrian rule or local installation vehicular, or directives made pertinent to the installation under the requirements of this regulation can be subject to imprisonment and/or fine or both for each violation. All people in the US are subject to a judicial proceeding under the magistrate court system of the US. A violation of any provision given under this regulation is distinctively punished as a violation of a legal general regulation or order under article 92 of the uniform code of military justice.
The punitive actions can be used as a basis for a warrant, commissioned, noncommissioned or law enforcement officer to give a legal order to a member of the service as given by article 91 of the uniform code of military justice. In agreement with the AR 190-5, only administrative actions such as assessment of points, reprimand, loss of driving privileges, and other actions, can be instigated upon service members for overseas violations of the regulation. This paper examines the Army Europe Regulation (AER) on traffic violations. It discusses the articles and offenses on failure to obey traffic control device, reckless driving and speeding as provided for in Article 111 of the uniform code of military justice and the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany.
Failure to obey traffic control devices
As provide in the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany, all private owned licensed drivers under the United States Army, Europe (USAREUR) should comply with the traffic regulations and laws when operating these vehicles in Germany (Brown et al 2). For the operation of these vehicles in other countries, the regulations are the laws of the country which the operation is taking place. However, when the operation is being undertaken in a United States controlled property such as a military installation of the US, the operation is governed by the German traffic laws and the regulation and procedures of the United States.
All drivers are expected to comply with the traffic control devices with the exception of situations where traffic authorities have issued counter directives. All traffic control devices which have been placed according to the governing traffic regulations or other regulations are presumed to have been positioned under the guidance of appropriate traffic authorities and should be followed strictly. In an event of non-compliance, administrative action will be instigated against the individual; unless the official traffic control device is not in a proper position or is not substantially visible to the driver. The installation traffic code for US forces in Germany gives directives on lane positioning, passing, driving on roads with marked traffic lanes, following too closely, and when entering intersections.
This regulation also provides for traffic maneuvers such as turning, signaling, and stopping or parking. When operating a vehicle, USAREUR personnel are expected to adhere by lane poisoning guideline issued by the respective country. For the case of Germany or within a US military installation, one should drive only on the right hand side of a divide road with the exception of directives issued by traffic control devices and traffic authorities. That is, at all time when operating a vehicle, one should occupy the right half of the road unless when passing or overtaking a vehicle moving the same direction, the road is restricted to single-way traffic, or when turning left in an intersection(Jones et al 40).
When passing, as provide by the traffic control procedures, all drivers including USAREUR drivers should pass to the left of the vehicle being overtaken maintaining a safe distance. As stipulated, the driver of the overtaking vehicle should not return to the right hand side, as required, until he or she has clearly overtaken. The regulation also guidance on when to pass on the right hand side of the road, a drier will only make a right hand passing if the vehicle being overtaken is making a left turn or on roads designed with at least two lanes for travel in the same direction and having the drivers on the right lane moving faster than the left lane. Drivers are also expected to obey traffic signs which prohibit passing whenever they come across. Lastly, the installation traffic code requires drivers to make use of marked lane where appropriate; always driving on the right hand side, ensure that they are within a safe distance with the care they are following, and when entering intersection, one should adhere and take note of the stop and yield signs.
With respect to traffic maneuvers, drivers are required to make turns where deemed appropriate; that is a left turn should be from the outermost left lane available and a right turn as close as practical to the furthest right side of the road, and give respective signals for each desired turn. U turns should only be made when permitted by a traffic sign or if can be done without traffic interference. For the case of stopping or parking, it should only be done when permitted; either by a sign or traffic rules. Any stop or parking made should be parallel to the shoulder or curb of the road in the permitted traffic movement’s direction.
Failure to adhere to these traffic controls would amount to similar offenses as recklessness as stipulated in article 111, section 7 of the Uniform code of military justice (“Manual for Courts-Martial, United States” 452).as given by the installation traffic code, this violation amounts to administrative actions which include loss of driving privilege. The installation traffic code for US forces in Germany clearly states that driving is not a right but a privilege and may stripped if one is found to be acting in violation of the traffic code. For non-compliance to the traffic controls, one may have his or her license suspended. Suspension can either be mandatory or discretionary, and may range from days, weeks, months to years. An appropriate action of suspension can be initiated for individuals who have failed to improve their driving performance by not adhering to traffic rules including controls signs and to individuals who have continuously violated serious traffic offences such as failing to obey traffic controls. In most occasions, mandatory suspensions are preferred for offenses related to failure to obey to traffic controls. For example, a suspending authority will suspend driving privileges for one week for failing to wear seat belt or failing to operate a private owned vehicle in the required lane position.
As given by article 111, section 7 of the uniform code of military justice, the physical control and operation of a motor vehicle is reckless when it shows a culpable disdain of conceivable consequences to other people from the omission or act involved. Reckless driving is not determined only by cause of the occurrence of an injury, or the violation of the rights of other persons, or by proof alone erratic driving (“Manual for Courts-Martial, United States” 452). However, all these aspects are admissible and significant as comportment upon the definitive question; whether, under all the situations, the manner an individual operated or physically controlled a vehicle was of a heedless or reckless nature which rendered it imminently or actually dangerous or hazardous to other people, their rights or safety. Reckless driving can be said to be physical control or operation of a vehicle with an escalated magnitude of negligence that if it is to result in death; the individual driving would be bound to have committed involuntary manslaughter. The settings in which the vehicle is driven and often the condition the motor vehicle is in are often used as a proof of offense charged and if of great importance can be appropriately alleged.
According to the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany, all drivers are expected to operate or drive their privately owned vehicles in a non-reckless manner. In accordance with the German traffic rules, all drivers under the umbrella of USAREUR are expected to drive and prudent and reasonable speed for the specific location, given the conditions of weather, traffic and road surface and having regard to the potential and actual hazards which exist (Jones et al 43). Reckless driving may also be interpreted to include behavior which includes a substantial degree of aggression or violation. As expected by the German traffic rule which govern the operation of vehicles within any US military installation in Europe, a driver is expected to adhere to the safety laws and regulations. Every individual who in the event of driving, hits the vehicle or property of another person is expected to top immediately and remain there until released by the traffic authorities. Escaping after committing an accident would amount to reckless driving and would attract severe administrative and/or criminal actions. An individual also using a cellular phone or other communication gadgets while on the driving wheel is also said to driving recklessly.
It is also expected of very person to comply with the Good Samaritan rule which requires all motorists to offer or acquire medical aid for injured individuals and in compliance, no one should move injured individuals unless directed by a medical practitioner(“Drivers Handbook and Examination Manual for Germany” 32). It is also expected of members of USAREUR to report accidents; that is, if involved in an accident, individuals should report the accident immediately to the Installation Provost Marshal Office, and in the case of an incapacitated driver, the occupants of the vehicle should report. It also should be noted that the installation traffic regulation bares the movement of any vehicles which have been rendered operable by an accident until authorized by the Installation Provost Marshal Office, with the exception of instances where it is inevitable in order to assist the injured and to prevent additional injury or assuage a dangerous situation. Lastly, drivers are expected to operate with extreme caution while at a scene of accident and they should move operable vehicles to avoid blocking traffic at the scene of the accident (“Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision” 7).
On the event that an individual is perceived to have operated or driven recklessly, one may be charged of the offence; reckless driving composed of a number of elements including wanton or causation or separate offences as stated in article 111 sections 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the uniform code of military justice(“Manual for Courts-Martial, United States” 453). Wanton is defined to include reckless, however the description of the operation of a vehicle may in an appropriate case imply malevolence or disdain of potential consequences resulting in a description of a more aggravated offense. Causation on the other hand, implies that the reckless driving of an individual should be a contiguous cause of injury for the individual to be guilty of reckless driving leading to personal injury. For the actions of an individual to be contiguous, they need not to be the only cause of injury or the immediate cause of injury, instead if it plays a material role in the injury. In relation to separate offences, the same course of actions may result in reckless driving they might be charges as separate offences in an administrative or criminal proceeding.
According to the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany, reckless offense may be punished through administrative actions; under certain condition, criminal proceedings are initiated against the individual. An individual who has been found guilty of reckless driving may have his or her driving privileges suspended or revoked by the installation commander or civil authorities of the country. Discretionary suspension with a maximum period of one year may be for reckless actions such as fleeing after committing a traffic offence. Reckless driving resulting in involuntary manslaughter results in the revocation of the driving privileges of an individual. Fleeing the scene of an accident; which, resulted in death or personal injury amounts to revocation of the license to drive. Revocations of driving privileges under the above offenses have a reinstatement after a period of one year. But subsequent offending have a longer periods; 5 years before reinstatement, or even prohibition from driving. However in certain cases under the German traffic rules, an individual may be imprisoned for a number of years depending on the nature of the offense.
USAREUR personnel should also take note of the speed restrictions given by the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany. Drivers are not allowed to drive a speed which cannot guarantee safety under the driving conditions. They should take into consideration potential and actual hazards related to inappropriate speed. Although speed limits are expressed in kph in Europe with the exception of the UK, USAREUR drivers should be able to convert kph to mph especially when driving a vehicle with a mph gauge. They should also note that in European countries for example Germany, there are two types of speed limits to be adhered to namely posted(maximum speed limits) and un-posted limits which are limits applicable to specific vehicles or specific roads(Bowman 12).
As provided by the installation traffic code, the maximum speed limit for vehicles within the military installation is 30 kph; unless determined otherwise by the Base Support Battalion, Area Support Group or Base Support Group (United States Armed Forces in Europe) (“Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision” 6). All changes made in relation to the 30 kph limit should be posted prominently in all regions affected by the change. However, when passing marching troops the maximum speed one should be driving is 15kph. On the contrary, there are also minimum speed limits which drivers are not allowed drive at because they impede the common traffic flow unless there are conditions which indicate slow speed as a necessity. Driving on the autobahn is an example. On the autobahns, vehicles which cannot maintain a sped of 60kph are not allowed. However the maximum speed is also set at 130 kph. Where there are no speed limits given, the suggested speed limit is for vehicles with a maximum loaded weight of 3.5 tons is 130kph. This limit should be applied irrespective of the road, weather and traffic condition. Furthermore, drivers should take into account their driving experience and speed assessment of the vehicle’s tires alongside its load. Any driver who exceeds this limit would be held accountable in case of any accident occurring (“Drivers Handbook and Examination Manual for Germany” 21).
For the case of un-posted speeds, drivers should take note of the speed limits for some vehicles such as buses, trucks. These limits apply when passing these types of vehicles. For instance the German law prohibits motorist from passing buses which are moving with warning lights on. In fact it directs that drivers may pass buses at a walking speed of 5 kph; that is the speedometer should not be moving though the vehicle is on motion. This also applies on roads with two lanes; oncoming motorist are also expected to proceed at walking speed. The German traffic authorities also advise on the speed and distance when following vehicles. They recommend one-half of the speedometer reading in meters as the safest distance.
The only exceptions given for high speed driving by the traffic authorities are officially recognized events which have been given a go- ahead by the relevant authorities such as attempts to set speed record and speed or acceleration exhibitions. Exhibitions of speed or acceleration; however, no individual is granted permission under any circumstance whatsoever to take part in events on a US military installation.
Failure to comply with the speed limits, lead to reckless driving related offense which result in the suspension of driving privileges as stipulated in the traffic code. According to the German traffic rules, the driver is required to adjust the speed to meet the weather, road and weather conditions, driving at the given limits. Failure to obey these limits would attract some fines which should be paid on the spot or will be paid later on. If one is found to be driving at 40kph or more above the speed limit or racing another vehicle, then it amounts to a traffic violation which will charged under the installation traffic code as a traffic violation.
Various traffic regulations have been given under the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany which govern the conduct of actions of USAREUR divers or their family member while in Europe. These traffic regulations have set forth stringent rules which should be adhered. However, in some cases the traffic rules of the country in which the operation of the vehicle is taking place are the governing rules with the exception of US controlled environment where the German traffic rules alongside the US laws and procedures take effect.
As discussed in the paper, regulations have been set forth to prevent reckless driving, failure to obey traffic control devices and speeding. Failure to obey traffic control devices which have been set to guide driver on lane positioning, passing, driving on roads with marked traffic lanes, following too closely, when entering intersections and other traffic maneuvers such as turning, signaling, and stopping or parking, make up a traffic violation. This kind of offense is punishable under the uniform code of military justice and the installation traffic code and leads to the suspension of driving privileges for some period of time.
Reckless driving on the other hand is the physical control or operation of a vehicle with an escalated magnitude of negligence that if it is to result in death; the individual driving would be bound to have committed involuntary manslaughter. It is not determined only by cause of the occurrence of an injury, or the violation of the rights of other persons, or by proof alone erratic driving. However, all these aspects are admissible and significant as comportment upon the definitive question; whether, under all the situations, the manner an individual operated or physically controlled a vehicle was of a heedless or reckless nature which rendered it imminently or actually dangerous or hazardous to other people, their rights or safety. According to the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany, reckless offense may be punished through administrative actions; under certain condition, criminal proceedings are initiated against the individual. An individual who has been found guilty of reckless driving may have his or her driving privileges suspended or revoked by the installation commander or civil authorities of the country.
Lastly, USAREUR personnel should also take note of the speed restrictions given by the installation traffic code for US forces in Germany. Drivers are not allowed to drive a speed which cannot guarantee safety under the driving conditions. They should take into consideration potential and actual hazards related to inappropriate speed. As provided by the installation traffic code, there are maximum and minimum speed limits for vehicles within the military installation and outside the installation. Failure to comply with the speed limits, lead to reckless driving related offense which result in the suspension of driving privileges as stipulated in the traffic code.
Air Force Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision. Air Force Instruction 31-204. , 1997. Internet resource.
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Drivers Handbook and Examination Manual for Germany. Heidelberg: United States Army, Europe and Seventh Army, 2009. Print
Jones, Anthony R., et al. “Registering and Operating Privately Owned Motor Vehicles in Germany.” USAREUR Reg 190-1/USNAVEUR Inst 11240.6M/USAFE Inst 31(2002)-202
Manual for Courts-Martial, United States. Washington, DC: Dept. of Defense, 2012. Internet resource.
Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision: Provost Marshal Activities. Washington, D.C: The Department, 1958. Print