Driving Lessons: Part One 

Stuck in the end of holiday traffic last week I was reminded of the gaps in my German driving education. I was spared from taking the German driver’s license written and practical exams by trading in my expired Ohio license. By not rigorously studying for these tests, I admit there are several road rules that prove a bit foggy to me. 

 I know, for a fact, that there is no “right on red” rule in Germany. It simply is not done. Neither is flipping the middle finger to another driver, which to me, is a far more valuable tool than a right on red. Ditto with shouting obscenities at anyone else. 

I refused to believe it until my husband left an article from one of his car magazines for me to read. The article provided a helpful matrix of offenses and their corresponding fines.

 Swearing at and calling another driver names ranged from 250 Euros to 2,500 Euros, depending upon the severity of the name calling. For example, “Bekloppter” (Loony) at 250 Euros is significantly cheaper than “Arschloch” (Asshole) at 1,000 Euros. “Schlampe” (Slut) is 1,900 Euros and “alte Sau” (old pig) is 2,500 Euros, clearly a high-end insult that only the wealthiest can afford.  

 Hand gestures have a separate category. Sticking out your tongue at another driver costs from 150 to 300 Euros and the showing the “Stinkefinger” (middle finger) could lead to a fine ranging from 600 to 4,000 Euros, with the more expensive option flipping off a police officer, so an average driver would cost significantly less and fit into a tighter budget. 
 Of course the offender would need a witness. If they had a passenger or more in the car, they had a case. If it was me against an individual, then they’d have a hard time proving it unless they took a photo, and they aren’t allowed to drive and use the cell phone.

 I’m such a fast draw with the bird they’d never have the chance to catch me on film anyway.

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