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Will I get a Knöllchen for driving too fast?

Last week the Daily Express carried an article about how foreign drivers are not being pursued for speeding offences in the UK, and how much money the British exchequer is losing as a result. Awful.

Actually, I’m not sure I’m all that bothered, but this may be largely because I’ve just got back from driving a hire car in central Germany, and I’m pretty sure I exceeded several local speed limits, and even went through a traffic light when it was just turning red. Although I might have got away with that one.

Should I be expecting an unwelcome envelope on the doormat with a Knöllchen, or do the Germans not pursue foreign drivers, in a reciprocal arrangement? I very much doubt it.

What I do know, however, is how much more law-abiding the Germans are, especially when it comes to local speed limits. Where we in the UK tend to sail gaily onwards, paying scant attention to the occasional built-up area, they stamp on the brakes and crawl. In some instances I would barely have noticed the ‘built-up area’ if it hadn’t been for the driver in front me, massively slowing down – and then massively accelerating when the restriction was past (surely an ecological nightmare).

My excuse was that I had a carefully-timed itinerary to complete, obviously assembled by someone who knew the road network and didn’t have to factor in getting lost and trying to find parking spaces in the destinations. But I know that’s not really an excuse; I should have been paying more attention to local regulation.

So the next time you plough through a village in deepest Englandshire, en route from somewhere to somewhere, take pity on the person in the car in front who slows down diligently at the 30mph sign; it’s probably a hire car driven by a German who hasn’t read the Daily Express.

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