Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer:
Here it comes. On 28 April, the recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations will enter into force. I am delighted because, with the recast, we will be making our mobility more safe, climate-friendly and fair. The new rules will strengthen vulnerable road users in particular. We will protect cyclists even more and create advantages for car sharing and electrically powered vehicles. And, as of now, the penalty for anyone who blocks an emergency corridor will be even more severe.
- In the autumn of 2019, Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer presented the recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations and other rules.
- The German Bundesrat gave its consent to the recast on 14 February 2020 with certain provisos (in German).
- On 23 March 2020, the German Cabinet took note of the recast in the version including the amendments by the German Bundesrat.
- The recast will be published in the Federal Law Gazette (No 19) on Monday, 27 April 2020, and will thus enter into force on Tuesday, 28 April 2020.
- The recast includes the following amendments and new fines, among others:
New rules governing fines
- The Recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations will introduce new or higher fines – especially for prohibited parking on footways and cycle tracks as well as for the now unlawful stopping on advisory cycle lanes and for double-parking or stopping. The fines for these traffic offences will be raised from the current minimum of 15 euros to up to 110 euros.
- In addition, it is planned to punish serious offences with one penalty point on the Register of Driver Fitness; this will apply if other road users are obstructed or endangered by unlawful double-parking or stopping, stopping on advisory cycle lanes or parking on footways and cycle tracks, if property is damaged or if the vehicle is parked on a footway or cycle track for more than one hour.
- The competent local authorities will be responsible for classifying the infringement.
Parking and stopping
- In addition, fines for unauthorised parking on a disabled parking space will be raised from 35 to 55 euros.
- A new offence of unauthorised parking on a parking space for electrically powered vehicles will also be introduced (including an on-the-spot fine of 55 euros).
- The fine for unlawful parking on narrow sections of road, sections with limited visibility, or near or on sharp bends will be raised from 15 to 35 euros.
- The fines for a general stopping and parking offence will be increased from a maximum of 15 euros to a maximum of 25 euros.
- The unlawful use of an emergency corridor will also be prosecuted and penalised in the same way as failure to create an emergency corridor. Offenders will face a fine of between 200 and 320 euros and a suspension of their driving licence for one month. In addition, these infringements can, in the future, be penalised with two points on the Register of Driver Fitness.
- Another new aspect is that the penalty for failure to create an emergency corridor will be suspension of the offender's driving licence even if there is no case of actual danger or obstruction.
- In addition, further fines will be raised. In the future, particularly the fines for incorrect turning manoeuvres or a failure to exercise due diligence when getting into or out of a vehicle will be doubled.
- Exceeding the speed limit by even less than before will be penalised by suspension of the offender's driving licence for one month. In built-up areas, this will apply to drivers exceeding the speed limit by 21 km/h or more.
- The fines for the unlawful use of footways, cycle lanes on the left hand side or hard shoulders by vehicles will be increased from a maximum of 25 euros to a maximum of 100 euros.
- In the future, anti-social driving can be penalised effectively: with the recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations, the fines for producing unnecessary noise or avoidable exhaust gas emissions as well as unnecessary driving or riding back and forth will be raised from a maximum of 20 euros to a maximum of 100 euros.
Car sharing and electrically powered vehicles: measures for clean mobility
- We will create advantages for car sharing vehicles to particularly encourage this form of mobility.
- The planned amendments to the German Road Traffic Regulations are based on the Car Sharing Act, which establishes the prerequisites for competent road traffic authorities to identify special car sharing parking lots in a legally sound way in the future.
- Among other things, a new symbol that serves as a basis for supplementary signs and enables privileged parking for car sharing vehicles as well as a sticker for the identification of car sharing vehicles, which must be prominently displayed on the windscreen, will be introduced.
Car sharing symbol:
Sticker with symbol for the identification of car sharing vehicles
Parking areas for electrically powered vehicles
- The Recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations clearly states that, in the future, competent road traffic authorities can mark parking areas for electrically powered vehicles with a symbol on the carriageway.
New rules to boost cycling
Cycling with two or more abreast
- The redrafting of the existing rules makes it clear that, in general, cycling with two or more abreast is allowed. Only if traffic would be obstructed will cyclists have to ride in single file.
Minimum distance for overtaking vehicles
- A minimum distance of 1.5 m in built-up areas and 2 m outside built-up areas will be stipulated for motor vehicles overtaking pedestrians, cyclists and persons operating personal light electric vehicles. So far, the German Road Traffic Regulations have only prescribed a “sufficient lateral distance”.
Walking pace for right-turning heavy goods vehicles with a weight of more than 3.5 tonnes in built-up areas
- For reasons of road safety, walking pace (4 to 7, maximum 11 km/h) will be prescribed for right-turning heavy goods vehicles with a weight of more than 3.5 tonnes. Offences can be punished with a fine of 70 euros in the future. In addition, the driver will receive one penalty point on the Register of Driver Fitness.
Carriage of passengers on bicycles
- Persons may be carried on bicycles if the bicycles are designed and equipped for the carriage of passengers and if the cyclist is at least 16 years old.
Green arrow signal for cyclists only
- The recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations will expand the current green arrow signal rules to include cyclists who are riding on a cycle lane or physically separated cycle track and want to turn right. Moreover, a separate green arrow signal for cyclists only will be introduced.
“Green arrow for cyclists” traffic sign:
General prohibition on stopping on advisory cycle lanes
- Advisory cycle lanes separate cyclists from cars by means of a white dashed line (sign 340 of the German Road Traffic Regulations). So far, cars have not been allowed to park there, but have been allowed to stop for up to three minutes. This has led to many situations where cyclists could not continuously use the advisory cycle lane because stationary cars obstructed their way. For this reason, a general prohibition on stopping on these lanes will be introduced.
Establishing cycling zones
- Just as for 30 km/h zones, it will be possible to establish cycling zones in the future. The rules will be similar to the rules for cycle-only roads: the maximum speed for vehicular traffic will be 30 km/h. Pedal cyclists must be neither endangered nor impeded.
- The operation of personal light electric vehicles will be allowed here, too.
- The conditions for road traffic authorities to establish cycling zones will be facilitated.
“Start of a cycling zone” traffic sign:
Widening of the parking ban before intersections and junctions
- We want to improve visibility between road and cycleway users and thus increase the safety of cyclists in particular. If there is a physical cycle track alongside the road, parking before intersections and junctions will thus be prohibited over a distance of up to 8 m from the intersection points of the carriageway edges.
Simplifications for cargo bikes
- To be able to provide dedicated parking areas and loading zones for cargo bikes, we will introduce a special “cargo bike” symbol that competent road traffic authorities can use.
“Cargo bike” symbol:
“Cycle superhighway” traffic sign
- The “cycle superhighway” traffic sign is to be included in the German Road Traffic Regulations to enable the identification of cycle superhighways irrespective of the road condition, for example on sandy surfaces.
“Cycle superhighway” traffic sign:
Ban on overtaking single-track vehicles
- In the future, road traffic authorities can impose an ban on overtaking vehicles with two or more wheels (e.g. bicycles) for motor vehicles with more than two wheels, for example on narrow sections of road. A new traffic sign will be introduced to this end.
“Ban on overtaking vehicles with two or more wheels for motor vehicles with more than two wheels and motorcycles with sidecars” traffic sign:
Expansion of the trialling clause
- So far, the federal states have already had the possibility of trialling traffic control or safety measures, limited with regard to time and space. The recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations will facilitate such trial schemes.
- To further open up road traffic law for traffic trials, the legislation has to be amended; this step is planned for 2020.
Allowing cyclists to use more one-way streets in both directions
- In the context of a comprehensive revision of the General Administrative Regulation on the German Road Traffic Regulations in 2020, competent road traffic authorities are to be encouraged to intensify their efforts and examine if one-way streets can be opened to cyclists riding in the opposite direction. The objective is to increase the number of one-way streets that cyclists can use in both directions.
New rules governing the carriage of abnormal loads
- The rules governing the competent authority for the application for permits and exemptions for the carriage of abnormal loads will be amended. In the future, there will also be uniform nationwide fines. These rules will not enter into force until January 2021.
Explicit ban on apps providing information on the location of roadside speed cameras
- The recast of the German Road Traffic Regulations explicitly states that drivers are not allowed to use apps providing information on the location of roadside speed cameras, for example on smartphones or navigation systems, while driving. This rule was already applicable but is now clarified once again.
Introduction of a "multiple occupancy passenger car" symbol
- The option of opening dedicated bus lanes to multiple occupancy passenger cars people was discarded. However, from now on, road traffic authorities can use the newly introduced sign, for example to carry out traffic trials.
"Multiple occupancy passenger car" symbol:
All the new symbols and traffic signs shown here introduced to the German Road Traffic Regulations.