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Gearing up for winter

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE - Germany -- As winter approaches Spangdahlem, service members are urged to prepare for the winter season with cold temperatures and slippery roads fast approaching.

Col. David Julazadeh, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, expects everyone to use effective operational and personal risk management at the organizational and individual level to achieve mission success.

"Active involvement by leadership at all levels fosters a solid foundation and safety culture essential to mishap prevention," said Julazadeh "This demands a continuous effort to participate and take immediate actions to resolve hazards. It begins with a safety mindset - taking the time and initiative to apply effective risk management principles both on and off duty."

Spangdahlem Airmen are required to equip their motor vehicles with snow or all weather tires by Nov. 15.

"The German rule is to use adequate tires during winter conditions, from Nov. 15 to March, 1; Spangdahlem has a requirement that you must have all season or winter tires," said Tech. Sgt. James Yerger, 52nd Fighter Wing ground safety manager from Enterprise, Ala. "Once the snow starts and the roads start getting icy you still have to have them based off German requirements."

Winter tires can be bought from multiple locations including on base, in the local economy or even shipped to your APO address through an online purchase.

Summer and all- season tires need to meet the minimum tread depth requirement in Germany of 1.6 mm. Winter tires must have a minimum 3 mm tread depth.

There are repercussions for not having the required tire during winter months.

Proper tire pressure according to manufacturer instructions is also recommended, explained Yerger.

"According to security forces, if you're in an accident and you have the wrong tires, you can be cited for improper vehicle equipment that contributes to an accident, you can get your license suspended up to seven days, 30 days or 180 days," Yerger said. "European laws state there is a 40 Euro fine if you are caught with improper tires and if involved in an accident or if you get stuck in the snow there will be an 80 Euro fine."

The winter season brings dangerous road conditions to the area.

"Fall and winter in Germany we are going to have some snow, black ice, brown ice, leaves on the road, tree branches, debris, and wildlife on the roadways" Yerger said.

The base safety office offers an Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club driving course in Koblenz to help better prepare drivers for real world situations on the road.

"What the Koblenz driving course allows is the opportunity for people to bring their personal vehicles to this closed course and put it through a variety of real-world exercises to push your vehicle to its limits," Yerger said.

The full day course involves two hours of in-class instruction followed by hands-on training for the rest of the day.

"If you fail you just hit a wall of water shooting up from sprinklers in the ground," Yerger said. "You go through traffic circles and do max breaking in a traffic circle. This lets you know what your perception of what your vehicle is going to do and then the real effects of it with anti lock brakes, swerving through cones, proper hand placements and driving positions."

The Koblenz driving course is offered multiple times throughout the year through the base and can be taken on its own with a cost of 105 Euros.

For more information on how you can go to the Koblenz driving course, Saber driving course or winter vehicle requirements, contact your unit safety representatives or ground safety at DSN: 452-7233, Comm: 06565-61-7233.