What do you do after a traffic accident?

by Staff Sgt. Joel Reyes
569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron


The 86th Airlift Wing recently created a step-by-step traffic accident information pamphlet for use in the unfortunate event you are involved in a traffic accident on- or off-base.

This pamphlet outlines the actions you must take if you are involved in an accident while living in Germany. The new pamphlet will be handed out at the Kapaun Vehicle Registration office starting in September.

So, say you unfortunately find yourself involved in a minor traffic accident. What do you do? This is a question all Americans need to have an answer to while living in Germany. Take a deep breath, and then carefully survey the scene around you. Evaluate your condition. Are you injured? Can you safely exit your car? Collect your thoughts before you act, and keep tensions under control. Most importantly, be polite and professional.

Should I call Polizei and military law enforcement? Should I exchange information? While the answer to most of these questions is “yes,” the severity of the traffic accident will dictate the answer.

Recently, the reporting requirements for Air Force personnel in the KMC were revised to be more convenient for Airmen and their dependents. The new rules enable compliance with higher headquarters regulations and German laws but ease some existing requirements.

One key change is related to how you should report a minor traffic accident. In the past, reporting time to law enforcement for a minor traffic accident was immediately. This has changed to within 24 hours for on-base accidents and within 72 hours for off-base accidents. This change is for minor traffic accidents only.

A minor traffic accident is described as: fender benders, non-disabling damages estimated to cost less than $10,000 and no injuries.

A major traffic accident is described as: any accidents with fatalities, personal injury, disabling damage (requiring towing), difficult to explain accidents or accidents involving possible fraud circumstances.

Many factors in an accident change the way it should be dealt with by the parties involved, and that is why the new traffic accident information pamphlet is critical to guide your actions in the aftermath of a traffic accident.

Though there are many factors to consider when being involved in a traffic accident, the most important key piece is to never leave the scene without communicating with the owner of damaged property or reporting the accident to law enforcement, whether the accident involves a moving vehicle, a parked vehicle, a pedestrian or someone’s property. If you drive away, even if the accident is not your fault, you can be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, which could have financial and/or legal consequences.

This new pamphlet provides all the information needed to assess a situation if involved in a traffic accident. The pamphlet explains everything, including what your responsibilities are, how you should act, emergency numbers, accident worksheet, etc. Upon registration of your vehicle, you will be given a copy of the pamphlet. We highly encourage you to keep a copy in your vehicle with your registration at all times.

If you have already registered your vehicle and would like a copy of the pamphlet, contact the 86th Security Forces Squadron Police Services section at 480-1215 or 06371-47-2050, or the 569th USFPS Police Services section at 489-6004 or 0631-536-6004.

Traffic accidents are unexpected and unpredictable, but this pamphlet arms you with the knowledge to navigate in the right direction.

How To Report A Traffic Accident:

• If you are involved in a traffic accident on Ramstein Air Base, you must report it to the 86th SFS Ramstein Law Enforcement Desk by calling 480-2050 or 06371-47-2050.

• If you are involved in an accident on any other installation in the KMC (i.e., Vogelweh, Daenner, Kleber, Panzer, Sembach, Landstuhl, Miesau or off-base), you must report the accident to the 569th USFPS Integrated Defense Operations Center, or IDOC, by calling 489-6060/7070 or 0631-536-6060/7070.

• Polizei can be reached at 110 or 112. Always call 112 for emergency situations.