RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) --
Stress during a permanent change of station move is inevitable, but proper planning before leaving a current station is one way to mitigate some of the pressure and anxiety that can occur after arriving at a new duty location.
For members and dependents PCSing to Germany, one big stressor is passing the U.S. Army in Europe, or USAREUR, driver's license test. A passing grade on the test is a requirement before active duty personnel and dependents can apply for a USAREUR driver's license and operate a motor vehicle on or off base, officials said.
Failing the test causes unnecessary stress on military members, their families and the family sponsor who often shoulders the responsibility to transport members to and from work and all appointments during the first few weeks after arrival.
Statistics show those on their first assignment to Europe will be challenged by the USAREUR driver's license test. More than 30 percent of all first-time testers fail to meet the minimum passing score of 85 percent.
Why is this test so difficult?
Since most of the German and European traffic patterns, speeds, signs and laws are different than those in the United States, it requires some real study to pass. Additionally, a rigorous test is directly tied to a driver's understanding of the rules of the road and informational signs and is critical to ensure the safety of the driver and those on the road with them.
In an effort to reduce the associated stress of the USAREUR driver's licensing process, 435th Vehicle Readiness Squadron personnel have teamed up with U.S. Air Forces Europe Headquarters counterparts to help Airman prepare for successful completion of their licensing test.
There are two initiatives being worked.
The first initiative is aimed at moving the point of USAREUR driver's license testing from the destination location to the departing location. Several stateside locations now allow members to test for their license before they PCS. Unlike the conventional test, this one is paperless, giving applicants the opportunity to take proctored tests online at local education offices. Just a few seconds after the last question is answered, the results of the test will be available on the screen. With a test result in hand, members arriving at USAFE bases can easily apply for, and instantly receive their USAREUR driving privileges.
The new testing process is currently available at 16 bases across the Air Force including: Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; Sheppard AFB, Texas; Vance AFB, Okla.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; FE Warren AFB, Wyo.; Peterson AFB, Colo.; Eielson AFB, Alaska; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Travis AFB, Calif.; Goodfellow AFB, Texas; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.; and Langley AFB, Va. The capability is expanding and by March, another 19 bases also will posses this capability.
The second initiative involves educating those who must take the test after arrival so they understand both the material they'll be tested on and the amount of studying needed to successfully pass the test on the first opportunity. The 435th VRS staff has pamphlets and study guides available that are a must for every sponsor package. They provide detailed expectations to ensure individuals allow for plenty of preparation time.
Additionally, 435th VRS officials are working on improving the testing appointment process to allow easier sign up and cancellations. A significant no-show rate is currently wasting many testing opportunities for those members who need them.
Officials at Ramstein have expanded the options in terms of locations where individuals can now take the test.
Airmen should keep in mind there are many things they can do to prepare themselves for the test, officials said.
The exam is made up of 75 multiple-choice questions on rules and driving procedures, plus 25 traffic signs that must be properly identified. The feedback provided from many individuals who have failed the test is that study materiel is sufficient but the amount of time set aside to study was not. Many people who failed just didn't anticipate the difficulty of the test.
For anyone expecting to pass this exam, a minimum of 10 to 12 hours of uninterrupted study time is recommended, officials said. Practice exams and information about the USAREUR test can be found on the Air Force Portal at https://wwwmil.usafe.af.mil/dlt/