Driving in Germany

“From the German Autobahn to the US Interstate System, der Führerschein or driver’s license – over the past few years we have done a LOT of driving in both Germany and the United States.

Although the US Highway System was modeled after the German Autobahn, you might find some surprising differences. Come ride along with us as we roam the roads of both countries!”

Very helpful, and funny, comments. From Germans. Explaining their logic:

“Germany: The problem that you cannot see the traffic light clearly when you are in the front row is resolved by the fact that the car behind you immediately honks when you are not driving when the traffic light changes to green :-)”

“The main reason why traffic lights in Germany are on your side of the crossing is clarity. Germany with its old town centers has many very irregularly shaped crossings, and a traffic light at the opposite side can not easily be attributed to a certain lane or even a road. When the first traffic lights were introduced in the 1920s, Germany experimented with the placement of the traffic lights on the opposite side or hanging down from cables spanned across the crossing. In the 1950s, all those installations were removed due to constant confusion of drivers.”

“Turning right on red lights is not often used in Germany due to pedestrian and bicycling traffic. When you are waiting on a crossing, chances are high that you not only have to watch out for car traffic, but also for pedestrians and other traffic you don’t regularly have in the U.S.. Thus in Germany, turning right on red lights is decided on a case-by-case base.”

“My instructor in Germany told me early on: “You are behind the wheel, you are handling a weapon.” This stuck with me.”

“About the driver’s license: there is a 40% fail rate on both the theoretical and practical exams here in Germany, which says a lot about the quality of the drivers the government is striving for. As I tell my kids: Driving is easy. Being a driver is not.”

Want to know the why for a culture’s behavior? Simply ask them.