USAG Bavaria Safety Office
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Thick patches of fog often roll through Bavaria, particularly around Grafenwoehr, Vilseck and Hohenfels.
According to Army in Europe Regulation 190-1 — the regulation on driver and vehicle requirements in Germany — foglights are not required. But if foglights are mounted, they must be installed to operate only with low-beam headlights.
According to the German traffic code (Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung or StVO), front fog lights may only be used when “fog, snow or rain substantially hinders visibility.” It is up to the driver, however, to make that call.
Fog lights are bright and can potentially hinder oncoming traffic. Before turning on your front fog lights, the USAG Bavaria Safety Office recommends taking these into consideration:
Note, however, that local German police may make their own determination of “substantial” and issue a fine to drivers inappropriately using fog lights.
Most European-specification cars have a rear fog light (Nebelschlussleuchte). In fact, vehicles registered in Germany are required to have at least one rear fog light. It is generally found on the driver’s side rear of the car, although some cars may have it in the middle (it’s usually the bright red one).
This light is particularly blinding when used improperly inside city limits. Section 17, subsection (3) of the StVO continues: “Rear fog lights may only be used when, because of fog, visibility is less than 50 meters.”
As with front fog lights, consideration should be taken when using your rear fog light.
Many drivers also drive with only parking lights on (or a combination of parking lights and front fog lights) at all times of the day and in all visibility conditions.
The StVO section 17, subsection (2) explicitly states that cars may not be driven utilizing only parking lights. Do not drive only using parking lights. There are no circumstances where it is ever permissible.
Since driving with front fog lights is only allowed during substantially hindered visibility due to fog, rain or snow, it follows that driving with a combination of parking lights and fog lights is not allowed.
The responsibility to operate your privately owned vehicles, according to German traffic code, is yours.
Visit the USAG Bavaria Safety Office webpage for more on winter driving, seasonal safety and more.