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Majority of Germans ‘want Autobahn speed limit’

Germany's likely new government has already ruled out a general Autobahn speed limit - even though the population wants it, according to a new survey.

A speed limit sign in western Germany.
A speed limit sign in western Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

In their preliminary agreement, the coalition parties in talk to form a new government – the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) – said they had no plans to introduce a speed limit on Germany’s Autobahn network. 

But a growing majority of people in Germany are in favour of it, a poll by German broadcaster ARD shows.

When asked about sensible measures for environmental and climate protection, a clear majority (60 percent) said that a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour on all stretches of the Autobahn was a step in the right direction, according to the ARD-DeutschlandTrend poll.

This figure is three percentage points higher than in June, signalling that support for a speed limit is going up. 

READ ALSO: German Autobahns to remain speeders’ paradise 

The agreement concluded by the SPD, Greens and FDP as a basis for coalition talks stated that “there will be no general speed limit”.

It meant the Green party had given up on their manifesto pledge to impose a general 130 km/hour speed limit German highways.

The liberal FDP are vehemently against such a limit on the Autobahns, which are famed around the world as being some of the only motorways where car drivers can drive as fast as they want without breaking the law in some places. 

Germans ‘against higher costs on food, fuel and energy prices’

The ARD survey also asked Germans what they thought about other possible climate protection measures.

Higher taxes on types of food, fuel and energy prices as a way of helping to protect the climate were not favoured by the population.

Only 39 percent of those surveyed said they thought a price increase for animal-based products to be the right measure – nine percentage points less than in June.

Meanwhile, 57 percent said that higher prices for meat and dairy products would be a step in the wrong direction. A possible further increase in the price of petrol was met with even more opposition: 78 percent were against it, and just 19 percent in favour.

Higher energy prices were viewed critically by 84 percent of people surveyed, while only 14 percent were in favour.

Vocabulary

The majority – (die) Mehrheit

Speed limit – (das) Tempolimit

Mood – (die) Stimmung 

Fuels – (die) Kraftstoffe or (der) Kraftstoff

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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DRIVING

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

The popularity of electric scooters in Germany has exploded in the last few years, but many people still aren't sure what the rules for driving them are. We break them down.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

Germany is currently the world’s second-largest market for e-scooter rental after the USA, which might explain why you have the feeling that you’re seeing the electric vehicles everywhere these days, at least in cities. 

According to a recent survey by ADAC,15 percent of people in Germany aged 16 and over regularly use e-scooters. Of these, 45 percent own their own scooter, while 55 percent rent the vehicles from sharing services.

Here are the rules for driving an e-scooter that you need to know.

Who can drive an e-scooter?

Anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric scooter and you don’t need to have a driving license to use one. However, many of the traffic rules for motorists also apply to e-scooter riders, and misbehaving on a scooter could end up costing you points on your driving license or even getting you a driving ban.

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No. Only one person is allowed to ride a scooter and if you are caught riding in two, you will get a €10 fine.

Although it might be fun, riding side by side on two scooters is also not allowed and can be punished with a fine of between €15 and €30. Instead, you and your friends have to ride in single file.

Where can you ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are principally allowed on bike paths and in bike lanes and you can only drive them on the road if there is no bike lane available. If you do drive on the road, you must keep as far to the right as possible and you are not allowed to ride in bus lanes.

It’s also forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the motorway – doing so will get you a €20 fine. 

Riding an e-scooter on the pavement, in pedestrian-only zones, or in one-way streets against the direction of traffic is also not allowed and can land you a fine of between €15 and €30.

However, e-scooters are allowed on one-way or no-entry roads which have a “cyclists free” sign.

A no-entry sign with a “cyclists free” sign underneath. This sign also applies to e-scooters. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

Which traffic light rules apply to electric scooters?

E-scooter riders have to abide by traffic lights just like motorists, and the fine for ignoring a red light on an e-scooter is between €60 and €180.

However, if there is also a traffic light for bicycles, e-scooter riders can follow this one instead.

Is there an alcohol limit for electric scooters?

Yes, the same alcohol limits for motorists apply to electric scooter riders.

This means that anyone who drives with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 to 1.09 is liable for a fine of €500, a 1-month driving ban and 2 points on their driving license.

It’s a criminal offence to ride an electric scooter with a blood alcohol concentration of at more than 1.1, as is causing an accident with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3.

Under 21s must be completely alcohol free – with a blood alcohol level of 0.0 – to ride an e-scooter.

Where can e-scooters be parked?

E-scooters can be parked at the roadside, on the pavement and in pedestrian zones with designated e-scooter parking areas. However, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that they don’t obstruct or endanger pedestrians or other road users. 

Parked e-scooters in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Which rules are there for e-scooter owners?

If you’ve upgraded from renting to owning your own scooter, there are certain requirements you have to be aware of. 

Firstly, it’s mandatory to have liability insurance and a special sticker (similar to a license plate) stuck to the scooter to show that it is insured.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: Haftpflichtversicherung

E-scooter owners also have to make sure that they have two independently working brakes and lights. 

Which other rules should I be aware of?

As with driving a car or cycling, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone while riding an e-scooter (which is pretty challenging anyway). If you’re caught doing so, you’ll get a €100 fine and a point on your driving license. 

It’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, though it is recommended. 

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