Polizei to U.S. drivers: ‘Give us a brake’

Angelika Lantz
21st Theater Support Command

By the time you realize they are there, it is usually too late. That is, if your driving habits resemble those of the 907 drivers stopped at one of the eight checkpoints set up by the German police in the Western Palatinate on July 14. During the statewide traffic/speed control day, one in every 14 drivers was found to be speeding.

The checkpoint, located on A62 between Kusel and Glan-Münchweiler, was manned by the Polizei and two members of the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron. A camera team from a local television station was also present when the most serious violators were pulled over.

“What caught the Polizei’s and our attention is that of the approximately 100 vehicles that were stopped, 26 had U.S. license plates,” said Reinhard Wolsiffer, a senior safety specialist with the 21st Theater Support Command’s Safety Office.

The total number of violators is actually even higher since at times speeders got away unchallenged because the number of stopped vehicles filled the checkpoint to capacity. They will get their tickets in the mail, added Mr. Wolsiffer.

More alarming yet, is that the U.S. drivers caught were among the speediest speeders, said Polizeihauptkommissar Rudi Gerhart of the Polizeiautobahnstation Kaiserslautern.

“Under German law, nine of the 26 drivers who were stopped would have their driving privileges revoked since they exceeded the speed limit by a minimum of 45 kilometers per hour,” he said. The top speeder with U.S. plates clocked in at 146 km/hour in the 80 km/hour zone.

Just a few days later, further evidence of this trend was provided when a U.S. citizen was stopped by an unmarked police vehicle Monday afternoon. The driver had to post bail after having exceeded the speed limit in a construction zone on A6 near Kaiserslautern by 47 km/hour, as reported in the German newspaper “Die Rheinpfalz.” The Autobahnpolizei announced they will increase the use of unmarked police vehicles in the future.

Mr. Gerhart emphasized the willingness of the German Polizei to work with the U.S. military police and praised their past and present cooperation and coordination.

Mr. Gerhart further stressed that while the traffic/speed control day sought to highlight the dangers of inappropriate and excessive speeds and aggressive driving, which are the main causes of accidents on German autobahns, there are also regular checks for alcohol and drugs related driving issues.