The new bill on traffic violations will include severe penalties for speeding, driving in the wrong lanes and unauthorised parking in places like bus lanes and cycle paths.
When the new penalties come in later this month, the illegal use of pavements, cycle paths and hard shoulders will be punished with a fine of up to €100 instead of the previous €25, while people who exceed the speed limit will pay at least €70 instead of €35, with higher fines for higher speeds.
In some cases, speeders can expect fines of €400 for driving over the limit in urban areas.
The aim of the new fines – which in some cases are more than double what they used to be – is to make Germany’s roads safer and offer better protection for cyclists and pedestrians.
Following Friday’s vote in the German upper parliament, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) will have to sign off on the new bill. The new fines will then come into force in three weeks’ time, around the end of October.
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Back in September, a study by Verizon Connect revealed that Germany had some of the mildest fines for breaking traffic laws in the whole of Europe.
The Bundesrepublik came in fourth place in a survey of all the European countries, with only Poland, Latvia and Austria handing out more lenient penalties.
According to the authors of the report, drivers who disregard a stop sign only have to pay a warning fine of €30 in Germany – while drivers in Norway or Greece have to reckon with a fine of over €700 for running a stop sign. Meanwhile, people who park their car in an illegal parking space only have to pay €15 in Germany – though this will soon go up to €55.
The low fines on drivers are matched by Germany’s liberal approach to speed limits. On some stretches of the autobahn, the government famously allows drivers to go as fast as they like – though left-leaning political parties such as the Greens and SPD are keen to change this.
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‘Traffic education measures’
The decision to increase the penaties was preceded by months of drawn-out debates and negotiations between the federal and state governments. Due to an error in the original draft law, the new road traffic regulations were suspended last year.
Welcoming the change, the chairwoman of the conference of transport ministers, Bremen’s senator Maike Schaefer, said the higher fines sent a strong signal to drivers that unsafe driving would no longer be tolerated.
“We know that excessive speed is the most frequent cause of accidents,” she said. “The catalogue of fines and road traffic regulations are ultimately traffic education measures for mutual consideration.”
Fines will also be increased for misdemeanours such as illegally using emergency lanes, blocking routes for fire engines and other emergency vehicles and parking in spaces that are intended for car-sharing schemes or disabled drivers.
For a full list of the new fines for drivers, see our recent explainer: