Safety Tipps and Information

Road Conditions: Examples and Scenarios

By Simon Hupfer, USAG Bamberg Public Affairs Office

Bamberg, Germany — To point out the most important message right away: "Everyone has the responsibility to drive within their own capabilities, and the onus is on them to communicate with their employer or chain of command about their own specific risks. If someone does not agree with the status of the roads they can still keep their children off of the school bus," said Maj. Samuel Meyer, USAG Bamberg Provost Marshall. The road condition checks and routes selected directly apply to government owned, leased or contracted vehicles, and not to privately owned vehicle operations, Meyer said.

Military Police patrols monitor the roads between 2 and 4 a.m. during the winter season, when snow falls or when the temperature drops below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. At 5 a.m. every morning, based upon the MP's recommendations, the garrison commander makes a call and if necessary road conditions are posted around that time, but not later then 5:30 a.m. Aside from on-post roads the MP patrols check the situation on the autobahn, on State Road 2190 (Memmelsdorfer Strasse), on Bundesstrasse 22 (B 22, Muenchener Ring) as well as in government leased housing areas in Stegaurach and Debring.

Road conditions can range from Green to Amber, Red or Black. Road conditions are green when the surface is dry, with no ice or snow on the road's surface. Visibility is more than 50 meters when road conditions are green. Fields and trees flanking the road might be full of snow; as long as the street is dry and snow-free, the road condition is defined as green.

Road conditions switch to Amber when the road surface has visible patches of black ice or slush or are covered with up to four inches of snow. Visibility is between 20 and 50 meters under amber road conditions. Salt trucks are clearing primary roads; it's recommended to reduce speed below 50 kilometers per hour. Thick snowflakes falling down do not necessarily mean the road conditions will change, as long as crews are working to clear the roads. It might be necessary to drive slower.

Red road conditions are posted when the road's surface is flooded or covered with drifting snow, ice sheets or four to eight inches of snow. If visibility drops below 20 meters, road conditions are defined as red. Clearing roads may be delayed resulting in minimal clearing. Red road conditions can result in a two-hour school delay and a 9 a.m. work call.

Black road conditions are extreme and therefore rare. They are defined when heavy flooding occurs, heavy snow drifts are existing or extreme sheets of ice are visible. When snow exceeds eight inches and visibility drops under 15 meters, then road conditions would be black.

With road conditions being explained in detail, it becomes obvious that they differ depending on whether you drive on a primary or secondary road. While autobahns and primary roads may be cleared, housing areas and secondary roads may still be covered with more than eight inches of snow at the same time. "Primary roads will make the difference. The decision is made at the command group of the garrison and then immediately posted on Facebook, the garrison website and the IMCOM Europe weather site," Meyer said. The decison made is based on the road's condition, not the actual weather; snowfall will make a new assessment necessary, but falling snowflakes are not necessarily an indicator to change the road conditions.