“The old signs won’t be changed,” Ramsauer said on Tuesday.
His predecessor Wolfgang Tiefensee had decided that any signs erected before a design overhaul in 1992 must be replaced. But the plan rendered hundreds of thousands of signs with barely perceptible differences worthless, meaning some traffic violations could no longer be punished.
Meanwhile many communities said they could not afford to replace the signs in the wake of the financial crisis. Of about 20 million signs set to be updated nationwide, only 7 million had been changed so far.
But Ramsauer said such a move would be “disproportionate” and promised a change to the law would be submitted quickly.
Both auto clubs and cities expressed relief at the transport minister’s decision.
The head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB) traffic department, Uwe Zimmerman, said that some €200 to €300 million had already been “thrown out the window” on sign replacement. But about the same amount could be saved thanks to Ramsauer’s move, he said, adding that the money should be spent on improving roads damaged by the long winter.
On Wednesday Ramsauer promised €100 million in additional funding to states for street damage repairs, daily Die Welt reported.
German automobile club ADAC welcomed an end to questions over traffic violations.
“With this the legal uncertainties are over,” spokesperson Maximilian Maurer said, adding that the initial plan had made little sense.
The Auto Club Europa (ACE) also lauded Ramsauer’s move to end the exchange, calling it a “pragmatic decision.”