You may have heard me say that one of the three things I’ll miss about Germany (assuming I ever get to move back to the States. Ahem.) is the Autobahn. I’m sorry, but I LOVE to drive my car pretty fast, and 55-65 mph just doesn’t cut it anymore. After living over here for 15 years, when I visit the States, I feel like I’m crawling along in my car on the highway.
One of my favorite commercials is this one:
Well, my ‘Stang isn’t a GT500 (just a GT which is pretty fast and quite enough of a guzzler), and it’s not a manual transmission (I’m a lazy driver these days and I don’t like a manual anymore because of the horrid, miles and miles long traffic jams in Germany, occasional as they may be), but you get the idea. So anyway, as I’m touring the roads and Autobahns here in Germany, it used to be that I just had to watch out for things like this:
This is a portable set up which gets moved from place to place to catch the unwary speeders on camera. There are also permanent cameras, but at least you always know where those are! A few months back though, my loving husband sent me this email:
I thought you might find these interesting.
Attached to this email were a few pictures like these:
Now why would he think I’d be interested in those? Oh, yeah. Right. There are times he really does know me pretty well. 🙂 What a sweetheart to send me pictures of the new speed cameras, so that I know what to watch out for! And check out the really sly one embedded in the side of the car! While you may have heard that the Autobahn has no speed limits, that’s not entirely true (and obviously there are speed limits inside cities and towns where you see cameras like the ones shown in the three pictures above). In some areas on the Autobahn, true, there is no speed limit. But in other places there is a speed limit, anywhere from 100km to 130km per hour (62 to 80 miles per hour).
Okay, so I started keeping my eyes peeled for these cameras, because while I like to drive my car fast, I’d like to continue to drive it, and if you get too many tickets or you get caught driving toooo far over the speed limit, the nice Polizei take your license away for a few months, not to mention the fines. Eeeeewww. I must note here that I don’t completely blow off the speed limits, but the dang cameras will snap your picture if your even 7 km over the limit, which is less than 5 miles! In the interests of full disclosure, I think I’ve only had my picture taken about five times in 15 years, so that’s not too bad! And two of those times were on the same day in the space of about ten minutes, but that’s a different (and rather embarrassing) story for another time… 😉
I’ve never seen one of these “new” style cameras anywhere yet, which I suppose is the point after all. So this is just one of the things you get used to over here. Sometimes you can drive as fast as you want, and most times you really can’t. And even on those stretches of Autobahn where there really is no speed limit, I don’t drive much faster than 105-110 mph except to pass someone. Of course, at 110 mph, I’m still getting run off the road by those folks who are driving 150-175 or more. Seriously. I’m not kidding: 150-175 mph or more! For the record, I think that’s just nuts. But I digress.
But another email from ITMan really threw me for a loop this morning. He forwarded this to me along with a couple of other “situational awareness” type emails from the Army:
Polizei will be running double camera cars, a few miles apart of each other, on the A6, A62 and A63 starting TODAY (25 Sept 09) for the next 2-3 weeks (actual end date unknown). If a car is flashed for speeding at the first one, then flashed for speeding on the second, the driver will lose their license for 6 MONTHS and receive a 2,000 EURO fine.
Um. Wha? Yes, I know that there are portable cameras, and I know that there are fines for speeding, yadda yadda. But I’m pretty sure that there’s no law on the books anywhere about staking out sections of the Autobahn with double camera cars and handing out 2,000 Euro fines and six month license suspensions for speeding.
I’ve always suspected that the Polizei here pretty much did what they wanted to do (which is why I’ve always walked—and driven—pretty small and tried not to be noticed when they’re around), but this just takes the cake. You just have to love a country where the Polizei can make up laws when they feel like it. Thankfully, I don’t spend a lot of time in the area where this is taking place since it’s north of here by Ramstein and Kaiserslautern. Sheesh. Welcome to Germany! 🙂