HEIDELBERG, Germany — The Heidelberg and Wiesbaden areas, home to many U.S. forces personnel and their families, have joined the list of German cities to establish and enforce low-emissions zones.
Vehicles that do not display a green emissions sticker certifying they meet exhaust emission standards are prohibited from entering the zones. Drivers caught entering a low-emission zone with a vehicle that does not meet the standards will be fined €40 and assessed one point on their driver’s licenses.
The restrictions for these areas, known as “Umweltzonen,” apply to all drivers operating in Germany. There are 38 zones across Germany. The zones take in major cities, popular tourist destinations and other areas, so travelers are advised to check if any of the zones are on their itinerary.
“There are no exceptions for U.S. personnel stationed here in Germany regardless of the Status of Forces agreement,” said Tom Lorenzini, registrar at the U.S. Army Europe Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The emissions stickers are obtained when a vehicle is registered in Germany and come in three colors: red, yellow and green. Like a traffic signal, green signifies that the vehicle meets emissions standards and is good to go in any zone, while yellow and red indicate the vehicle is more polluting and is prohibited from entering the Umweltzone.
The Heidelberg and Mannheim areas came under the new regulations Jan. 1, and the Wiesbaden and Mainz areas on Feb. 1. The Wiesbaden garrison’s Hainerberg, Aukamm and Crestview housing areas all fall within the new zone.
“People who need to travel in the affected area and have a (vehicle) that does not qualify for an emissions decal will have to buy a conforming vehicle or convert their vehicle to meet the emission standards, or use public transportation,” Lorenzini said.
In January 2008, Berlin, Hannover and Cologne became the first to establish the zones, which are designed to reduce the amount of fine dust and nitrogen dioxide in the air. Stuttgart and Mannheim followed suit two months later, and additional cities have created zones since.
For detailed maps of current restriction zones, visit www.plakette24.de. For questions about vehicle regulation and emission standards, visit the Registry of Motor Vehicles website at www.hqusareur.army.mil/rmv.