With the cost of a driver’s license upwards of $2,000 (as opposed to the average $600 in America) and the speed limit defined only by your car's engine, it is no surprise that Germans take their traffic rules very seriously. We threw a German on American roads for two months. Here is what drove him the craziest driving in America.
1 | Multi-lane overtaking
Overtaking from only one direction reduces accidents and improves traffic flow
Germany (and most advanced economies as a matter of fact) allows you to overtake only from the left. If the car behind you is driving faster, you are required by law to move to the right to clear up the way. How many times did you almost hit the car which is also moving into the same lane but from another direction on the 12-lane USA freeway? Oh and you are changing lane because the car in front of you is driving incredibly slowly.
2 | Not indicating when changing lanes
On top of the multi-lane overtaking rule, many people don’t indicate when they change lanes (or do so only after they are halfway into the lane).
3 | Driving without headlights at night
You don’t usually notice them because – well you can’t see them. It is a federal crime to drive without headlights on at night in Germany (and yes Germans would report you immediately!). No wonder the plentitude of cars without headlights on stood out to the German.
4 | Or driving with too many lights on
By our count on a random street in Los Angeles, 35 cars drove by within a minute with their fog lights on in a perfectly clear evening. We know you paid extra for those lights, but do we need a constant reminder of that?
5 | Leaving a huge gap with the car in front of you at stop lights
Unlike Germany, America has plenty of space. But hello truck, you can fit 3 sedans (or 4 Smarts) in front of you. Please move forward.
6 | Parking over the line
BECAUSE SPACE. AMERICA. FREEDOM.
7 | The over use of stop signs
Stop signs slow down traffic, increase fuel consumption, and in many low-traffic neighborhoods, are unnecessary. This is why Europeans opt for roundabouts. According to America’s Department of Transportation, replacing intersections with roundabouts leads to a 35% fall in crashes, a 76% fall in injuries and a 90% fall in deaths. Many people have spoken against stop signs (See this TED speech for example). So why do we still have so many of them? BTW, rolling past a stop sign will cost you $238 in California. You better stop.
8 | Driving slowly… way too slowly.
Our low speed limit aside, many folks drive way below the speed limit. Ever wonder why we have so many phantom traffic jams? A car ahead is driving below the speed of traffic or decides to brake for no apparent reason, causing the chain-reaction of cars behind it.
Maybe we can improve our traffic conditions by adopting some German efficiencies.
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