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A rethink of traffic law

German experts are calling for a complete reorganisation of German traffic law in order to make tomorrow's mobility more climate-friendly and safer. Only a uniform law that specifically anchors environmental and climate protection can achieve the newly formulated climate goals of the federal government in the transport sector.

The German Ecological Transport Club (VCD) has presented a comprehensive legislative proposal, a kind of "Federal Mobility Act". This creates a detailed framework for the transformation of German roads and transport, similar to the Energy Industry Act that has determined energy policy since 2005.

The VCD complains that there are currently too many laws involved in transport planning in Germany. Moreover, none of these laws formulates specific climate goals. Following the government's newly formulated climate targets, which commit Germany to becoming climate neutral by 2045, a significant change must now also take place in the transport sector. Goals such as the increased use of rail for freight transport or the expansion and increase in the attractiveness of cycling and local public transport are repeatedly communicated by politicians, but are not enshrined in law. This would be different with the VCD's legislative proposal.

According to the proposed law, new roads would only be allowed, for example, if they serve climate protection. In addition, on roads where there are no cycle paths, only 30 km/h speed limits would apply. This would make roads safer across the board and make cycling more attractive. The share of green electricity that would have to be used in the transport sector could also be specified in the proposed law, or the right to mobility even in remote areas could be enshrined in law.

The proposed law would fundamentally overhaul transport law. Road law of the federal states, federal trunk road law and road traffic regulations, railway law and federal waterways law, but also passenger transport law for rental cars and taxis, spatial planning law and the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan would become a single law that prioritises climate protection and safety in transport.

A change on German roads is urgently needed. In the last 30 years, the climate balance of the transport sector in this country has hardly improved. It is obvious that the different laws currently get in each other's way bureaucratically, or that responsibilities are shifted back and forth. This is also visible in the environmental zones and diesel driving bans. Neither the cities nor the states and federal government want to tighten the rules of the zones. It took many lawsuits and court rulings for the diesel driving bans to be introduced. Now many of them are to be quickly abolished again.

It remains to be seen whether the federal government will accept the VCD's proposal and introduce a federal mobility law. It would be a signal that it is serious about a green mobility turnaround and also wants to comply with the newly formulated climate targets in the transport sector.