Tips for passing a practical driving test

199 posts in this topic

55 minutes ago, slammer said:

 

G´won, tell us, what did the instructor can you on?

 

Wondering the same thing!  He definitely knows more traffic rules than I do!

He must have really annoyed the tester🤔

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2 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

I failed my behind-the-wheel exam here in Lower Saxony today. It was one of the most miserable of a number of experiences I've had in Germany. Some background: I am 55, male, from California, and have been driving since I was 16. I have driven in all kinds of conditions, rural, urban, snow, ice, mountains. All kinds of vehicles. And yes, I do read, write, and speak German fluently, and yes, I do know how to operate a manual transmission properly. The language was the least of it. In addition to all that, I had been studying the rules intently for two months. I passed the theoretical part with 100% a couple of weeks ago.

 

Much of what the driving school instructor drills into you, e.g., the infamous Schulterblick, can be implemented easily enough; you just have to remember to do it. Certain things are identical, e.g., yield signs (when they have them--see below), stop signs, red lights, etc. More problematic, however, are a couple of fundamental differences in the traffic laws. These are difficult to internalize after a lifetime of doing things differently.

 

1. Rechts vor links -- traffic from the right has priority. At first, this didn't faze me, because we do have the same rule: if two cars simultaneously arrive at an unmarked intersection or even one with stop signs, the car on the right has the right of way. This is false comfort, however, because the similarities end there:

 

    a. Unlike the U.S., where the vast majority of intersections, even small ones, have STOP or YIELD signs, in Germany most residential areas bear no signs at all. As a result, unless the road you are traveling on is expressly designated as a priority road (Vorfahrtstraße) by a yellow diamond sign, any cars coming from your right have the right of way--and you must yield to them. (In the U.S., the concept of a priority road is unknown.) In Germany, therefore, while on a non-priority road, e.g., a residential area, you must be constantly on guard against cars darting out from side roads on your right. The relative size of the streets has absolutely no bearing on the drivers' respective duties.

 

    b. Hence, when you yourself are on the the side road, e.g., the vertical part of an unmarked "T" intersection, you have the right of way vis-à-vis the cross traffic to your left but not to your right!  By contrast, in the U.S., at a "T" intersection, through traffic--in both directions--always has the right of way! Here, the rechts vor links rule applies. To me, as an American driver, this seems suicidal--the notion of not waiting for all cross traffic at a T-intersection to clear.

 

2. Parked cars on side streets: Under German traffic law, not all parking is created equal. If cars are parked "on the street" (i.e., if there are no designated spaces or indentations), then a driver has the obligation to keep ducking around them whenever a stretch without parked cars on it opens up. Then, when you approach more parked cars, you again must signal, look, then dive into the middle of the roadway. Sometimes this can happen astonishingly fast. And you are supposed to keep at least 1.5 meters' distance between you and the parked cars to your right. Good luck with that. In the U.S., if street parking is legal, then the space they occupy is deemed a parking lane, and you are expected to drive to its left (but of course generally keep to the right).

 

3. All curves are not created equal. If a curved portion of the road is marked by a sign with a white arrow on a blue background, then you have to signal in that direction, even if there is absolutely no other possible route to take. Conversely, if a curve is unmarked, or is flagged with the general warning sign (red triangle with a snake-like black curve), then it's deemed the Verlauf (course) of the road, and no signaling is required.

 

4. Except in emergencies, you aren't supposed to apply the brakes on the autobahn at all.

 

5. When outside a built-up area (außerorts, defined by passing the yellow end-of-city-limit sign with the four bands across it), you are allowed to signal your intention to pass by flashing your lights, a practice I find incredibly aggressive.

 

6. The classic American three-point turn is verboten; you can, however, execute a U-turn on a side street by signaling right, backing into a driveway on the right (your side of the road) in reverse, then signaling left and driving forward.

 

7. You are permitted to pass a bus that has stopped, provided that you do so at Schrittempo (no more than 10 kph or so). This rule applies to traffic in both directions. What you may never do is pass a bus with flashing lights that is also moving.

 

7. When you exit a driveway or a verkehrsberuhigter Bereich ("traffic calming zone," in which you must maintain idling speed at all times), rechts vor links does not apply. This is also true for entering a Landstraße (rural road) from an unpaved path or area. Then it's like an American T-intersection.

 

The final absurdity: if I had had the foresight to hail from Arkansas, Arizona, or any of the other states that have the treaty with Germany for exchanging driver's licenses, I could have obtained a German one with no questions asked for about €80 Euro. In my mind, this fact makes a mockery of the entire business. I defy anyone to explain to me how some idiot from Bumbleflock, Arkansas is somehow magically better suited to German road conditions than someone who has decades of experience battling L.A. traffic.

 

 

I want to know what you failed on, too. I had no idea American three-point turns are forbidden. I do them when possible. I always wondered why cars don’t know what I’m doing if one is by me at the time. 

 

I agree with your final absurdity. I am from NY. If anyone can drive in NY, they should be allowed to drive anywhere. I really do have to watch my language when I drive here, though. All it takes is for one person to complain if he sees me mouth an obscenity. 

 

Geez, compared to some of the tests on here, it’s a miracle I even passed mine (original test was in NY). Mine was 15 mins. I tapped the curb on my parallel park. I stalled at a light (and I had been driving manual for 10 years at that point). The tester was really nice and spoke English with me. As soon as he heard I was an Umschreibung, he didn’t really care about the specifics of the test. I think he was very friendly with my driving school teacher. If anyone wants the name of the school, let me know. 

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3 point turns are not forbidden, they are just not always the best option.

Here, it's pragmatic. The dude says 'turn the car as soon as is safely possible so you are going back the way we came' or words to that effect, There are some situations in which a 25 point turn would be required, but mostly you just find the next turning/track/empty bit and use that to turn round in. But the basic back/forth and turn thing is normal. 

 

I quite like rechts vor links - it only happens when traffic is supposed to be moving at 30kph and is a great calmer. A couple of villages on a back road near us used as a rat run by some commuters have made their main road a 30 zone with the accompanying rechts vor links, and it's a brilliant move. One of the roads just down from us is now a bikestrasse, and I have to say that the combination of a Fahrradstrasse and a 30 has left me befuddled - the rechts vor links has a little rest during it and possibly kicks in on the last street on the stretch I use, but so far the jury is out on that. I've been beeped twice now by people expecting the opposite each time. Clearly befuddlement is normal.

 

My favourite thing is a  filter lane onto a bridge (2 lane entry, so no one coming from behind on your tarmac) which has a bike crossing which is lit and a stop sign. Fines were handed out for not stopping at the stop sign at the start of this new plan, but then why have a traffic light? Now you get beeped if you stop when the light is green, and the latest I heard is that the stop sign is only for when the lights are out. :huh:

 

Second favourite is one of those green arrows on a pole to show that you can turn right even when the lights are red. The arrow is not lit and invisible at night, so only those in the know can make the turn.:lol:

 

Still, I hope you have a better experience next time, nicholas, Failing something you know you can do and need to use in daily life is deeply frustrating.

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At the fixed green arrow one may turn but must not, one may wait for the green light. One MUST stop for three seconds before the unbroken line. Saves about zero seconds usually.

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14 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

  b. Hence, when you yourself are on the the side road, e.g., the vertical part of an unmarked "T" intersection, you have the right of way vis-à-vis the cross traffic to your left but not to your right!  By contrast, in the U.S., at a "T" intersection, through traffic--in both directions--always has the right of way! Here, the rechts vor links rule applies. To me, as an American driver, this seems suicidal--the notion of not waiting for all cross traffic at a T-intersection to clear.

This is in theory. In practice, Rechts-vor-links roads are only present in 30 kmh residential areas. There it doesn't matter if the intersection is T or not, you stop at all intersections. Also in practice bicycles do not observe this rule, so it is better to yield to them.

 

14 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

then a driver has the obligation to keep ducking around them whenever a stretch without parked cars on it opens up. Then, when you approach more parked cars, you again must signal, look, then dive into the middle of the roadway.

There is no obligation to keep to the right lane when you're in town, even so, this is recommended. Were you failed for that? This cannot be so. 

 

14 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

4. Except in emergencies, you aren't supposed to apply the brakes on the autobahn at all.

 

This is incorrect, where do you have this nonsense? You are not supposed to apply brakes for no reason (e.g. speed limit, car/pedestrian in front, obstacle) anywhere, why would you? On the autobahn, there is no minimum speed, but there is a general rule that you should not be much slower than general traffic because you can cause accidents. 

 

14 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

You are permitted to pass a bus that has stopped, provided that you do so at Schrittempo (no more than 10 kph or so). This rule applies to traffic in both directions. What you may never do is pass a bus with flashing lights that is also moving.

This applies only to buses with hazard lights on (in Bavaria I didn't see many of them). 

 

14 hours ago, nicholas-corwin said:

I defy anyone to explain to me how some idiot from Bumbleflock, Arkansas is somehow magically better suited to German road conditions than someone who has decades of experience battling L.A. traffic.

Life is not fair. Also, a Greek, born and grew up on a 2x5 km island with only one road, has a full right to drive in Germany. 

 

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22 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Life is not fair. Also, a Greek, born and grew up on a 2x5 km island with only one road, has a full right to drive in Germany. 

How would such a person adjust to driving 200kph on the motorway though?

At just 60 you are doing 1km a minute. At 200 you are doing over 3. Even if you had a straight road going the whole 5km through the middle of island it's not really the same..

Even if they stick to 120 they are gong to run our of road in just over 2 minutes.

 

 

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Minimum speed limit on German Autobahn ist 60km/h 

If you vehicle can't do this (eg tractor) then you're not allowed.

If traffic prevents 60, then you won't be prosecuted!

 

'Not using brakes' means when driving at speed, you need to able to look so far ahead and anticipate what other road users will do...and accelerate/decelerate appropriately.

 

Not many drivers can do this IMHO.

 

Used to be called 'defensive driving' but doesn't fit the aggressive style seen daily on the Autobahn. 

 

Had a UK test some decades ago where the tester asked

'we just passed a sign...what did it mean?'

 

Got to know the signs AND pay attention!

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40 minutes ago, HH_Sailor said:

Minimum speed limit on German Autobahn ist 60km/h 

If you vehicle can't do this (eg tractor) then you're not allowed.

If traffic prevents 60, then you won't be prosecuted!

Also when visitbilty poor, heavy rain, fog and when icy etc.

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4 hours ago, yourkeau said:

This is in theory. In practice, Rechts-vor-links roads are only present in 30 kmh residential areas. There it doesn't matter if the intersection is T or not, you stop at all intersections. Also in practice bicycles do not observe this rule, so it is better to yield to them.

 

There is no obligation to keep to the right lane when you're in town, even so, this is recommended. Were you failed for that? This cannot be so. 

 

This is incorrect, where do you have this nonsense? You are not supposed to apply brakes for no reason (e.g. speed limit, car/pedestrian in front, obstacle) anywhere, why would you? On the autobahn, there is no minimum speed, but there is a general rule that you should not be much slower than general traffic because you can cause accidents. 

 

This applies only to buses with hazard lights on (in Bavaria I didn't see many of them). 

 

Life is not fair. Also, a Greek, born and grew up on a 2x5 km island with only one road, has a full right to drive in Germany. 

 

I don't know offhand whether braking on the autobahn is illegal per se, but my instructor repeatedly told me to wait until I was on the exit laen (Ausfädelungsstreifen) before tapping the brakes. Also, what is definitely illegal is ausbremsen—tapping the brakes in order to signal a tailgater (Drängler) to back off. From the Bußgeldkatalog: Sie bremsten als Vorausfahrender ab, ohne dass dafür ein Grund bestand. Es kam zu einer Gefährdung des nachfolgenden Verkehrsteilnehmers.

 

My understanding is that you are always obligated to keep to the right; that's the Rechtsfahrgebot:

 

Quote

 

StVO § 2, Straßenbenutzung durch Fahrzeuge: (1) Fahrzeuge müssen die Fahrbahnen benutzen, von zwei Fahrbahnen die rechte. Seitenstreifen sind nicht Bestandteil der Fahrbahn.

(2) Es ist möglichst weit rechts zu fahren, nicht nur bei Gegenverkehr, beim Überholtwerden, an Kuppen, in Kurven oder bei Unübersichtlichkeit.

 

 
Finally, let me say that I find your remark about residential areas very helpful! That's a much more logical way of thinking about it, namely, just stop (or nearly stop) at any and all intersections in residential areas, period.

 

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16 hours ago, klingklang77 said:

 

 

I want to know what you failed on, too. I had no idea American three-point turns are forbidden. I do them when possible. I always wondered why cars don’t know what I’m doing if one is by me at the time. 

 

I agree with your final absurdity. I am from NY. If anyone can drive in NY, they should be allowed to drive anywhere. I really do have to watch my language when I drive here, though. All it takes is for one person to complain if he sees me mouth an obscenity. 

 

Geez, compared to some of the tests on here, it’s a miracle I even passed mine (original test was in NY). Mine was 15 mins. I tapped the curb on my parallel park. I stalled at a light (and I had been driving manual for 10 years at that point). The tester was really nice and spoke English with me. As soon as he heard I was an Umschreibung, he didn’t really care about the specifics of the test. I think he was very friendly with my driving school teacher. If anyone wants the name of the school, let me know. 

I'm a born New Yorker from California. I've driven in NYC a handful of times. Could not agree with you more!

 

I failed because the examiner said I passed parked cars too closely then didn't stop for a rechts-vor-links situation immediately following that. Technically she was right, of course, but there was no close call, no failure to watch out for any hazards. I was thrown a bit because some idiot coming towards me had stopped and almost completely blocked the street. There was room to pass between him and the parked cars on my right, and the examiner said I paid too much attention to him and not enough to the parked cars and the intersection that came up immediately afterwards. Of course, I got no kudos for safely navigating a potentially dangerous situation involving someone who was flagrantly violating the rules.

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5 minutes ago, nicholas-corwin said:

Technically she was right, of course, but there was no close call, no failure to watch out for any hazards.

 

Typically teuton. Black & white application of the roolz.

 

5 minutes ago, nicholas-corwin said:

... the examiner said I paid too much attention to him and not enough to the parked cars and the intersection that came up immediately afterwards.

 

Had you taken all the time in the world to wait for the idiot to get his act together doubtless she would have complained about hesitancy and blocking the street unnecessarily as you were able to pass... no win situation IMO.

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4 hours ago, cb6dba said:

How would such a person adjust to driving 200kph on the motorway though?

At just 60 you are doing 1km a minute. At 200 you are doing over 3. Even if you had a straight road going the whole 5km through the middle of island it's not really the same..

Even if they stick to 120 they are gong to run our of road in just over 2 minutes.

 

 

Trucks have a limit of 80 kmh, so the right line is for whoever wants to be slow.  

 

I don't remember having any problems to reach 200 kmh. Actually it is much safer than driving 120 kmh, but fuel consumption is enormous. Why it is safer? Because nobody dares to cut into your lane. 

1 hour ago, nicholas-corwin said:

I don't know offhand whether braking on the autobahn is illegal per se, but my instructor repeatedly told me to wait until I was on the exit laen (Ausfädelungsstreifen) before tapping the brakes.

Ah, you meants this situation. Yes, in this situation your instructor is correct: you should change to the exit lane, then reduce speed. 

 

4 hours ago, HH_Sailor said:

Minimum speed limit on German Autobahn ist 60km/h 

If you vehicle can't do this (eg tractor) then you're not allowed.

If traffic prevents 60, then you won't be prosecuted!

Just to be pedantic, there is no legally defined minimum speed. True, your vehicle should be technically able to reach 60 kmh, but that does not mean this is the minimum speed. However, there is a general rule that you should not endanger traffic. Driving below 60 on the right lane would constitute such danger, driving 65 kmh on the left lane would constitute such danger as well. Basically, one should not drive much slower than the traffic in the lane. 

 

1 hour ago, nicholas-corwin said:

My understanding is that you are always obligated to keep to the right; that's the Rechtsfahrgebot:

 

It seems to be one of those situations you are obliged to do during the exam, but not in real life. If you know you are going to turn left soon, it is totally legal to occupy the left lane well in advance. 

 

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2 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

Trucks have a limit of 80 kmh, so the right line is for whoever wants to be slow.  

 

I don't remember having any problems to reach 200 kmh. Actually it is much safer than driving 120 kmh, but fuel consumption is enormous. Why it is safer? Because nobody dares to cut into your lane. 

You got up to 200 on road on that island that is 2x5kms?

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3 hours ago, cb6dba said:

You got up to 200 on road on that island that is 2x5kms?

In Germany, of course. You do not need any special skills to drive 200 kmh. Only one important thing to remember: 100 m distance (the "half speedometer" rule) to the cars in front.

 

That rule gives limitation on stretches of the Autobahn where you can actually (legally and safely) drive 200 kmh.

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34 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

In Germany, of course. You do not need any special skills to drive 200 kmh.

Unless, you drive a Golf SDI like I did :). 

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1 hour ago, yourkeau said:

In Germany, of course. You do not need any special skills to drive 200 kmh. Only one important thing to remember: 100 m distance (the "half speedometer" rule) to the cars in front.

 

That rule gives limitation on stretches of the Autobahn where you can actually (legally and safely) drive 200 kmh.

In practice there are very few times and places where one can and may 'safely' exceed even 100 mph. Several political parties want a top maximum limit of 130 kmh.

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5 hours ago, yourkeau said:

In Germany, of course. You do not need any special skills to drive 200 kmh. Only one important thing to remember: 100 m distance (the "half speedometer" rule) to the cars in front.

 

That rule gives limitation on stretches of the Autobahn where you can actually (legally and safely) drive 200 kmh.

I was going off what you posted.

One minute you're talking about Greek people on an island then speed lints in Germany and all without any kind of switch.

It's like a Michael Bay movie..

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10 hours ago, cb6dba said:

I was going off what you posted.

One minute you're talking about Greek people on an island then speed lints in Germany and all without any kind of switch.

It's like a Michael Bay movie..

I was replying to the OP who is sad that holders of some US states driving permits can exchange their licenses without exams while they have to go through the rigorous and strict examination. 

 

The same applies to Europe due to EU license agreement: someone from Greek island can drive in Germany without even exchanging the license.

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