Think winter weather, safe practices this Columbus Day weekend

Beginning as early as October, winter weather is a possibility in the Franconian region of Germany. (U.S. Army file photo by Karl Wiesel, IMCOM)

Beginning as early as October, winter weather is a possibility in the Franconian region of Germany. (U.S. Army file photo by Karl Wiesel, IMCOM)

Story by the USAG Ansbach Safety Office

On Monday, the nation recognizes Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer and navigator, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of reaching the East Indies but instead landed on the shores of the Americas.

Many of our Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees along with their loved ones will set out on their own voyages of discovery of the European continent during the extended weekend.

The cooler days of fall bring unique challenges: fog, shorter daylight hours, frost or black ice and falling leaves, which increase the risk of vehicle accidents and slips, trips and falls. Whether your plans for the weekend involves extended traveling or staying at home on post don’t relax your safety vigilance and allow an accident to ruin your holiday.

If your plans include traveling, please ensure your vehicle is equipped with the appropriate tires: “WINTER TIRES” or “ALL-SEASON TIRES” identifiable by an “M+S” (Mud and Snow) logo.

GERMANY: In case of snow, black ice or frost, “M+S” tires are mandatory if you want to move your vehicle (“Situational Tires Law” since 2010). Winter tires must have at least 1.6 mm tread depth; 4 mm, however, are strongly recommended by local national Polizei and private automotive organizations. The recommended time-frame to mount winter tires is Oct. 1 through April 30. If vehicles hinder or impede traffic or cause accidents due to inappropriate tires, the drivers can be fined up to 120 euros and will encounter problems with vehicle insurance.

AUSTRIA: Vehicles need be fitted with “M+S tires” from Nov. 1 through April 15. Tire thread depth must be at 4 mm minimally.

Visit the following website to identify the requirements in your country or travel destination

Before you take to the road, check your vehicle’s lights, windshield wipers and fluid levels; make repairs as needed to ensure your vehicle is road ready. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast along the route and your intended destination, and then plan accordingly. Above all, buckle up for safety, and never drive impaired.

Planning on staying close to home, in the barracks, and relaxing with friends in the local area, safe use of alcohol is a must;

  • Plan ahead if you know you will be drinking alcohol by arranging a ride home with a designated driver or taxi.
  • Don’t try to keep up with other drinkers and avoid drinking games.
  • Only get in a car with sober drivers; decide who will be the designated driver before you go out.
  • Drink alcohol only in the company of good friends.
  • Keep an eye out for each other; intervene if you see a friend becoming excessively drunk
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Remember, battle buddies take care of battle buddies!

Note: It is the driver’s legal responsibility to carry the required winter equipment such as snow chains. This is applicable for your personally owned vehicle and any rental car.

Remain vigilant and enjoy your Columbus Day weekend. Return to us rested, healthy and ready to help us meet the challenges of autumn and the forthcoming year. We need you!


For additional information, please contact Installation Safety Office at 0981-183-1670 or DSN 468-1670. Visit the USAG Ansbach Safety page at

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