Important translations for this post:
Blitzer – Speed camera
Blitzen – to be photographed speeding
Ich bin geblitzt worden – I have just been photographed speeding in order to supplement the police force’s low budget…
The local Frankfurt Ordnungsamt just sent me a wonderful black and white photograph of myself for the reasonable sum of €15. There are rumours that at this time of year, the speed cameras go into overdrive and snap more than their fair share of motorists. Don’t know whether it is true or not but I am certainly going carefully now. Especially since I found out a few useful bits of info from the ADAC. For a start, I didn’t know that even though Hessen has a lot of cameras, it is known to be one of the more lenient places for motorists. Bayern apparently is far stricter on speed controls. I also learnt that the 3% tolerance that I normally take for granted is not applied in every case. It depends on the local policy.
Speed limits and fines are administered by the local authorities, even on the Autobahn, so rules change as you drive across the country. For instance, this explains why some stretches of the Autobahn have a 120 or 130 kmph limit for no apparent reason. Beware, and follow the rules, as this normally means that the local authorities are paying attention and will have placed some strategic cameras along that stretch of road.
And don’t think that you can get around it by downloading an app to your iphone that warns you of upcoming speedcameras. These are illegal and you will be given a fine if you are caught with it on your phone. Not sure how they inforce that though…
Another interesting piece of info I picked up was that the idea that Germany is a country for racing drivers is not entirely true. There is actually a national speed limit of 140kmph even on the Autobahn. However, when you see a ‘derestricted’ sign on the Autobahn (white circle with black line across) it means that it is not patrolled and there will be no cameras. You can thank Germany’s influential automotive lobby for that!
If you want to keep uptodate on the latest traffic rules in Germany, ADAC publish a summary of the most relevant decisions in their magazine Motorwelt. It is just for members, but it is also worth considering membership (like the AA in the UK).
Motorwelt threw up some little gems like if you stop at red lights and your car automatically stops the engine, you are technically allowed to use your phone. It also pointed out that dashcams cannot be used as evidence in the case of an accident or dispute as no permission has been obtained by those involved to be filmed. Don’t you just love data-protection in Germany?!