StVO amendment: What drivers in Germany need to know
Anyone driving in Germany will have to get to grips with new traffic regulations this week - or risk some pretty severe penalties - because the much-anticipated StVo amendment comes into force on April 28. Here’s what you need to know.
New traffic regulations in Germany from April 2020
The amendment includes a range of measures including quicker driver bans, better protection for cyclists and tougher penalties for parking violations, Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told the German Press Agency.
“I am pleased because it will make our mobility safer, more climate-friendly and fairer,” said the CSU politician. “The new rules especially protect more vulnerable road users.” As well as measures for protecting cyclists, the new rules also ensure advantages for car sharing and electric cars.
StVO amendment 2020
Here’s an overview of the main changes.
Fines for various parking offences - including double-parking and parking on footpaths and bike lanes - will increase significantly, from 15 to 100 euros. This also applies to designated bike lanes, marked by a continuous white line, as well as advisory bike lanes (protective strips - Schutzstreifen) marked by a broken white line. Up until now, cars have been allowed to stop for up to three minutes.
If anyone is hurt, damage is caused or if you park for longer than an hour on a footpath or cycle lane, you can receive a point on your driving licence. Fines will also go up for other types of parking offences, including parking in non-designated areas and in disabled and electric car spaces.
Emergency corridor (Rettungsgasse)
By law, whenever traffic backs up on the autobahn due to an accident or other emergency, all cars must form an emergency vehicle lane (Rettungsgasse) to give easy access to the emergency services. From now on, anyone who blocks this lane will face a fine of between 200 and 320 euros.
Safety for cyclists
Up until now, motorists have only been required to keep a “sufficient distance” when overtaking cyclists. In the future, you will need to leave at least 1,5 metres on city roads and 2 metres on country roads.
Trucks weighing more than 3,5 tonnes are only allowed to move at walking pace (i.e. a maximum of 11 kilometres per hour) when turning right on inner city roads, because this situation puts cyclists especially at risk.
In particularly dangerous areas, a new sign can prohibit cars and trucks from overtaking. Parking is also prohibited for up to eight metres before intersections and junctions with bike paths, to improve visibility.
In addition to bike paths, in the future there can also be entire bicycle zones, where a maximum speed of 30 km/h will be permitted and cycling must not be endangered or hindered. Cyclists can, in future, also ride side by side as long as no other road users are hindered.
Green arrow for cyclists
In the future, there will also be a green arrow that applies only to cyclists. This will allow cyclists to turn right at a red traffic light - but only if you stop first, and don’t endanger any other road users.
In inner-city areas, an 80-euro fine will be demanded of those caught exceeding the speed limit by 21 km/h. On country roads, the fine starts at 26 km/h above the speed limit. The warning fine of minor violations of up to 10 km/h above the speed limit will triple from 10 to 30 euros.
Unnecessary noise and exhaust emissions (known as Autoposing in German) will also carry higher fines - up to 100 euros, instead of 20 euros as previously.
Speed camera apps
The StVO amendment express stipulates that speed camera apps installed on mobile phones or navigation devices may not be used while driving. This was already true before, but has been emphasised once again in this latest amendment.
Read the full StVO amendment
Want more details? Visit the Federal Transport Ministry website (in German) for more information.