GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - With the approach of Bavarian winter and the snow, sleet, fog, rain and ice that comes with it, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr has reassessed its inclement weather procedures.
The facelift has been minor. With the assistance of the military police and the Installation Operations Center, Col. James Saenz, USAG Grafenwoehr garrison commander, will still issue garrison work and delays, early releases or even closures.
The biggest change is the language the garrison will use to convey hazardous driving conditions. In previous years, roads were given a color, such as red or amber, to label the severity of the state of the roads. However, the colors were meant for dispatch vehicles rather than privately owned vehicles.
The garrison is moving away from communicating dispatch road conditions for those driving POVs, which can be ambiguous for the general population.
"We're trying to get away from a color representing an action, " said Steve Hood, chief of operations for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "We're going from road conditions to driving conditions."
This means that Green, Amber, Red and Black Road conditions will be used only for dispatching tactical and nontactical government vehicles.
For those in POVs, driving conditions will be used to convey road safety. The goal, according to Ron Grantham, operations specialist for the garrison, is to clarify the phrasing to make it easier for community members to determine whether or not they should drive.
Non-Hazardous conditions mean safe and normal driving.
Hazardous driving is snow, slush and patches of black ice. Drivers should use caution in hazardous conditions.
Dangerous conditions add limited visibility to the snow, slush and black ice list. Extreme caution is advised under dangerous conditions.
Extremely dangerous driving is heavy drifting snow, severe sheet ice, and limited visibility with potential white out conditions. When driving conditions become extremely dangerous, drivers should refrain from driving unless there's an emergency.
While the decision to issue a delay or closure still ultimately rests on the garrison commander, the new driving conditions will help drivers assess their abilities to make it from point A to point B in inclement weather.
Grantham says that before drivers venture into a wintery abyss, they need to evaluate their comfort level and how their car handles in bad weather. If community member feels unsafe driving in any weather, he may contact his supervisor to relay that he will be delayed until the weather clears.
"It's ultimately your decision to get in the car and drive, " said Grantham.
Hood stresses that thorough and positive communication between supervisors and their employees or Soldiers is necessary for safe winter driving.
Community members can find information on schools or garrisons delay or closure at: weather hotline 475-7623, (475-ROAD), or 096, or visit the garrison's website, IMCOM Europe's page, or login to the Garrison Facebook page, for information on weather updates, delays, closures and driving conditions.
One of the best ways to remain safe during the icy months is to ensure vehicles are as winter-proofed as possible. That means snow or all-season tires, an efficient defroster, bright lights and an emergency kit.