Moving to Germany has been amazing! My family and I have enjoyed living in Europe and adapting to our life in another country. However, my husband, who never gets traffic tickets back in the states, has become a professional at getting traffic tickets in Germany.
An interesting detail is that police officers in Germany don’t issue tickets for speeding. They focus on larger scale issues and keeping the peace. It’s true. Instead, there are speed cameras set up in prime locations. One would think that it would make it less likely for traffic violations since everyone knows where the cameras are located, however, this is not the case. It’s almost unheard of for someone not to have received a ticket. These cameras have a 5 kph tolerance, which means if an individual is driving 5 kph (3 mph) over the speed limit, then a picture gets taken and that individual gets a nice present in the mail.
In our first six months living in Germany, my husband has received six speeding tickets. Mostly within the first two months, but we still occasionally receive one in the mail. I’m pretty sure I have one for myself on the way.
My husband also received a ticket for parking illegally in front of someone’s garage door in a city. A police officer showed up at our temporary apartment one morning banging on the door. The police officer asked my husband to follow him. So, of course my husband followed him down the stairs and was asked to move the car out of the ‘parking’ spot while a group of neighbors gathered around to watch the commotion. The police officer was not happy. He asked my husband, “Were you drunk when you parked?” My husband sad, “No, I thought it was decorative.” In his defense, it was a pretty garage door and it was quite dark when he parked. We still joke about this interaction.
I’m not innocent in all this ticket business. I have received one for parking in an electric car only parking spot. You know, the spots that have the charging poles in front of them. I should take time to read the parking signs more carefully.
I have also managed to blow out a tire on two separate occasions. One was my fault. I was busy looking at the pretty houses in a neighboring village. Before I knew it, the street narrowed, and a car was coming toward me. I over compensated and hit the curb, shredding the tire immediately.
That was a stressful day because I was brand new to Germany. I only knew two people. My husband was on a work trip. It was my daughter’s first day of school. My cat was in surgery at the vet. And I had just ruined our only vehicle. Oh, and my phone battery was on 22% and I did not have my charger. It all worked out but was incredibly stressful at the time. Several Germans, who were complete strangers showed me such kindness that day and if it wasn’t for them the situation might have gone quite differently.
The second time was not my fault, but I was prepared having already dealt with a similar situation in Germany. I now have my insurance company and the car towing company in my list of contacts on my phone. Plus, I now have a larger support network of friends to rally in those types of situations.
As you can see, adjusting has been interesting, but we are enjoying time in Europe. Adapting to life here has forced each of us to grow and watch out for speed cameras, curbs, parking signs and garage doors.