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Fines in Germany too low

When comparing the fines for traffic offenders in Europe, it is striking how little one actually has to pay in Germany. This also applies to unauthorised entry into environmental zones or other closed roads. In the past, there was even a point in Flensburg for this, but this has been abolished in the meantime, as the road safety of road users is not considered to be at risk. Nevertheless, the question arises as to the efficiency of environmental zones when, firstly, there are hardly any checks and, secondly, fines are rarely collected.

While you have to pay up to 2180 euros for unauthorised entry into an environmental zone in Austria, 1700 euros in Denmark, around 420 euros in France and Switzerland, 350 euros in Belgium and up to 250 euros in the Netherlands, in Germany it is just 80 euros.

This does not necessarily encourage people to comply with the environmental zones and driving bans. How little the regulations are actually adhered to was seen last week in Hamburg. Since October 2020, it has no longer been permitted to drive through the Jungfernstieg, but only a few people are complying. By the end of 2020 alone, there were still 2700 violations, some of which drivers were actually asked to pay. In mid-October 2021, almost a year after the introduction of a driving ban, the drive-through ban has still not caught on with many drivers.  On the Saturday before last, checks were carried out again and more than 1000 offences were recorded between 5 pm and midnight. But the fine is only 20 euros, so some of the drivers are not particularly impressed. One of them was stopped and fined four times. This shows how little a low fine deters. But it is difficult to close the Jungfernstieg completely to motorised traffic, as buses, taxis and delivery traffic also have to pass.

One reason why motorists in Germany do not always abide by the rules of the environmental zones is certainly the size of the fines. But first and foremost, the risk of getting caught is simply too low. While automatic number plate recognition is already in use in some Scandinavian countries, the Benelux countries and France, it is still being discussed in Germany. Up to now, the principle has been that there must be "sufficient factual indications that an offence of considerable importance has been committed" for the scanning of licence plates to be permitted. At the beginning of the year, however, the federal government introduced a legislative initiative. If it is implemented, scanning could soon also be applied to environmental zones and these could thus be subject to much stricter controls, since the digital recording of number plates means that almost every violation can be punished. The only thing that remains is an appropriate level of fines in Germany so that environmental zones are actually observed, after all, driving bans are not introduced without reason.