New Penalty Catalog in Germany: Protecting Bikes and Scooters; No Pardons for Speeders and Fishtailers; No Mercy for the Novices

asphalt auto autobahn automobile
Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

FLENSBURG- If there is one adjective to describe the new Penalty Catalog (Bußgeldkatalog), in force since April 28th, it would be this: environmentally friendly. This is because the catalog provides more protection for cyclists and those who currently use the newest form of transportation, the E-scooter.  For drivers wishing to get a photo with a gatsometer, it will be more costly, especially if it includes a one month timeout for going 75 km/h in a 50 Zone in the city.  For novice drivers on probation, who are caught drinking and driving, they get more than just a speeder from a cop on duty. And those who are high on a Mickey (Finn) as a driver and endangers other road-users can face time behind bars guarded by Mickeys and possibly, lose his driver’s license.

bikes in winter

The new Penalty Catalog is based on a growing trend that law enforcement officials have seen on German highways within the last two years. Some were considered positive with the introduction of E-scooters and the expanded use of the bicycle. In 2018 alone, as many as 9.3% of German residents bike to work on a daily basis. Another 18.2% of people bike several days a week, and the trend is growing. With that trend comes the pursuit of new paths and additional lanes on many highways and streets to accommodate them. At the same time though, many motorists are frustrated with the fact that more cyclists and scooters are sharing the road, resulting in an increase in the number of accidents with the bike. Last year alone, the number of bike fatalities was the highest ever since 2010 with 158 deaths reported during the first half of the year, alone. Two thirds came from the involvement with the car.  The new laws that are in place are more structured to show how the car and the bike can share the road. At the same time, they will protect both the biker and the scooterist from getting hit by a motorist.

autobahn freeway highway lights
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

On the flip side, the new Penalty Catalog will help law enforcers rein in on Boston Driving on German highways. This includes but is not limited to: excessive speeding on the German Autobahn (motorway), unlawfully driving in or blocking the rescue lane (Rettungsgasse)- especially when stopping to photograph or film an accident- hogging up two lanes, doing the California roll with a yield sign although cross traffic has the right of way, punching red lights, fishtailing another car and lastly, driving while being too high on drugs and not focusing on the road.  According to the Department of Vehicle Registration in Flensburg, speeding has the highest rate of all traffic offenses. Yet DUIs and accidents are a primary concern, especially among those who are either under 21 years of age or have gotten their licenses for the first time. Therefore the new catalog will crack down on the above-mentioned offenses and force drivers to behave themselves by respecting the rules, road signs and other road users.

StVO-Novelle: neue Verkehrszeichen und ihre Bedeutung - autobild.de
Two examples of new signs to promote the bike and scooter. Photo: Autobild.de

To sum up on what the rules will look like, we will look at what to expect from cyclists and scooterists.  First and foremost, motorists are expected to follow the distance guidelines where they are to be 1.5 meters away from the cyclist upon passing them. In the countryside it’s 2 meters. This also applies for pedestrians, the elderly and the disabled. Already the rule has been in place for fishtailing. Motorists are expected to maintain a distance with the car in front of them at a distance that is half the speed they are driving.  A new No-Passing-Zone sign designed for banning cars from passing scooters and bikes will be introduced. While the rules and regulations regarding fishtailing a car has remained the same as in the previous catalog, those endangering either of the groups by ignoring the distance rule while passing can face up to 100 Euros and 1 point for violation.

toddler using scooter on road
Photo by Bagus Pangestu on Pexels.com

Because E-scooters are considered qualified road vehicles, the rules that exist for bike users apply for scooterists, yet the requirement to have a scooter registered is the same as when registering for a car. Furthermore it is not allowed to latch onto the car or ride more than two riders abreast without risking an accident.  And lastly, both cyclists and scooterists will have their own bike zone and “Bike Autobahn” where only they can rule the road and not the car driver.

teddy 1
Teddy will watch you more than ever. 

Cracking down on speeding will be the centerpiece of the new policies. Fines for going up to 20 km/h over the speed limit have doubled. Instead of 30 Euros for going 66 km/h in a 50 Zone, it’s now 60.  Yet one can face at least a one month driving ban for going more than 20 km/h over the limit, in addition to higher fines and a point on the record. For more than 40 km/h, it’s 2 points and a 2-month ban. Similar guidelines are in place for trucks and vehicles with trailers.  For parking violations, those who disregard the regulations and even the biker will have to dig deeper into their wallets than ever before, for the fines are much higher. Drivers who park on bike lanes and sidewalks can face a fine of 70 Euros and a Flensburg point. For double-parking in a parking lot, it’s at least 80 Euros and a point. Brand new is a parking ban in areas reserved for E-cars, car-sharing, and handicapped parking. Violators there can face a fine of 55 Euros.

person driving and drinking
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

To put the icing on the cake, the catalog also includes tougher penalties for impaired drivers. Already in place is the 500-1000-1500 Euro model for the number of DUI violations, plus 2 points per offense. Those who are caught driving while intoxicated and have a blood alcohol content of more than 1.1 per mil face up to 3 points and one year in prison. If he endangers others, it’s up to five years. There’s also a chance that he could lose his driving license permanently.  For drivers on probation, there’s an absolute zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs while driving. Violators can face a 250 Euro fine, be given a point and have their 2-year probationary period be extended by up to two years. This extension applies for other traffic violations.

The QEII Bridge at Dartford, east of London. It has extremely long approach ramps to get the roadway high enough to cross the River Thames while still leaving sufficient clearance for ships to pass underneath. This is the problem that a transporter bridge aims to solve. Photo by Nico Hogg [CC BY 2.0] via this flickr page

The new Penalty Catalog in Germany builds off of the present guidelines but it serves two purposes: 1. To encourage safety and better behavior of drivers on the highways, protecting themselves and other road users and 2. To encourage alternatives to the car, allowing an opportunity to use environmentally friendlier forms of transportation while paying attention to the road and others. It’s a firm but friendly approach to traveling in Germany, where one will have to think critically before and while taking to the road, for while the car is still a prized German good for the family, we’re seeing more two-wheels that are ruling Germany’s roads. And these are the ones we’re encouraging to use the road as often as we’re commuting by car.

 

fast fact logo

Mickey has two different meanings.  The Mickey (Finn) is an alcoholic drink consisting of alcohol, snuff-soaked water, tobasco sauce and a drug to put a person to sleep. The origin came from a guy named Mickey Finn who was infamous for lacing other people’s drinks using similar ingredients. You can find his biography here.  The other meaning of Mickey is an American slang that means the same as a cop or the official term, police officer. This is used mainly in big cities. The origin comes from the Disney character, Mickey Mouse.

 

Author’s Note: 

To learn more about the new penalty code for behavior on the road, click onto this link below. This will take you to the new catalog which will have all the details of the do’s and don’ts of traveling in Germany:

Link: https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/  

A summary in English can be found here: https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/german-driving-laws/

The Files will provide you with an update on the rules of biking in Germany as well as new rules for riding a scooter. Both of which will be in separate articles.

FlFi10

 

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