Every year, around this time in South Florida, the local papers and TV stations publish or air a story about the ‘snowbird’ drivers and what a pain they are. There is always a story about the six-car pileup caused by the little old lady from Long Island making a right turn from the left lane of some crowded highway or the Drunk from Shaker Heights who plowed his car into the front of a Darlene’s Day-spa after a few-too-many Rob Roys.
Well, who am I to argue. It seems as though the drivers from up north lose whatever manners they had when the sun shines on them. This really isn’t the point of this rant though. The point is that most of the drivers today in our country couldn’t get a license here 40 years ago and certainly can’t get one in Germany today.
Enrolling at a driving school is compulsory in Germany. Lots of schools offer lessons in English and many of the theory documents are also available in English. The written part of the exam, however, is carried out in German.
The following steps must be followed to complete a German Driving Test:
Completion of a first aid course: “First Aid at The Scene of An Accident - Sofortmaßnahmen am Unfallort”
Eye test (Sehtestbescheinigung) – official confirmation of an eye test carried out within the past two years by an optician (Optiker)
Submit an application to the local Office for Resident Registration (Einwohnermeldeamt) for a driving licence (Antrag auf Erteilung einer Fahrerlaubnis)
Successful completion of the theory test
Successful completion of the practical driving test
Now, get caught using a cell phone and you face a stiff fine. The same is true for passing on the right, going too slow in the left lane, changing lanes or turning without signaling and so on. One of the big differences is that they actually enforce their laws much better than here.
One of the other things to take note of is that the test is in German, not Spanish, Polish, Italian or English. A US license can be used for six months but there are a few things to watch out for.
1) First infraction = loss of driving privilege.
2) Once the six months are up you have to take the theory test. (Don’t forget it is in German.)
3) Not all states can exchange their license.
The reason I bring all this up is that we have lost all reason on the road. I saw a woman driving with her cell phone up to her ear and a cigarette in her hand on the wheel. Every once in a while she would let go of the wheel to take a drag. Bad enough I guess but this was on I-95 with a baby in the baby seat next to her and at about 65 miles per hour.
It seems as though almost no one signals for turns or lane changes, stops for the first couple of seconds of a red light, actually stops at stop signs, leaves enough room between them and the car in front of them or has any common courtesy. You can spot violations almost non-stop on any road in the country. Don’t forget the law most broken in the United States is speed limits.
Remember, you are driving a car, not a phone booth.
“Please keep your dog beside you, sir,” a woman said crossly to the man sitting opposite to her on a bench at the park. “I can feel a flea in my shoe.” The man replied, “Rover, come over here that woman has fleas.”