The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Directorate of Emergency Services has declared war on illegal parking and abandoned vehicles. In the first 10 days of 2012, Military Police issued 342 parking citations, predominately on Patch and Kelley Barracks. MPs have tagged 84 vehicles with yellow “abandoned vehicle” stickers since Thanksgiving. Eight have been towed.
The crackdown is meant to enforce regulations, reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. The most frequent violations include parking in a no parking zone, overnight parking and parking on a sidewalk.
Overnight parking is only authorized in residential areas, while illegally parked vehicles pose a serious road safety problem for emergency vehicles.
“As DES, I’m not only responsible for law enforcement, but fire services,” said Maj. Paul Goyne, the DES director. “We recently conducted parking lot surveys and found that many of our parking lots are inaccessible by fire emergency vehicles.”
He said that emergency vehicles need to be able to maneuver into position, access fire hydrants quickly and that they require space to fully deploy their equipment.
“The patrolmen out there really are looking out for the community’s best interest,” Goyne said. That may be, but returning to your car to find a parking ticket is an irritation most people can do without.
Fortunately, unlike in the civilian world where parking tickets are a multi-billion dollar industry, Stuttgart military community motorists won’t be hit in their pocketbooks.
But they’ll “pay” in other ways. “A parking citation assesses one point against a driver’s U.S. Army Europe driver’s license. Licenses are suspended for 180 days when a person reaches 12 or more points in one year,” Goyne said.
An abandoned vehicle can also result in a driver losing his or her license for 180 days. Vehicles that have been stationary for an extended period of time (with the exception of those in authorized deployment holding lots) and vehicles that are missing license plates or other evidence of ownership are considered officially “abandoned” according to USAREUR regulations.
In the Stuttgart military community, most abandoned vehicles are found at the Exchange Car Care Center, the auto skills center and the Exchange parking lots, all located on Panzer Kaserne.
“What we’re finding is that a lot of the cars need a replacement part and the owners have chosen not to go through the Car Care Center,” Goyne said.
An owner who orders parts through the Exchange Car Care Center and has an appointment for repairs is given an approved placard to display on the vehicle’s dash. “If a car doesn’t have that placard, it’s abandoned,” Goyne said.
Once a vehicle is “tagged,” MPs make three attempts to contact the owner by phone and e-mail. The owner’s command is also notified to make sure he or she isn’t deployed or on temporary duty. After the third notification, the vehicle is towed to the impound lot on Stuttgart Army Air Field.
The owner must reimburse the Army for the towing fee (any where from $85 to $130) and is also slapped with a six month mandatory license suspension.
DES officials also said that an expired vehicle registration can result in a citation for failure to register.
“A lot of people say they don’t have time to renew their registration. The fact is that vehicle registrations can be renewed up to 75 days in advance,” Goyne said.
The bottom line is that DES enforces the regulations in Army Europe Regulation 190-1 and the USAG Stuttgart garrison commander’s Policy Letter 16.
“Our enforcement is to ensure the safety and security of the community. It would be devastating if there was a fire and emergency vehicles could not access the building because we didn’t enforce lawful and safe parking,” said Goyne.
Army Europe Regulation 190-1 and the USAG Stuttgart garrison commander’s Policy Letter 16 are available online at the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart website at www.stuttgart.army.mil.