(Blah, blah, Becky is boring. I want to try some driver’s test questions!)
The blog has been quiet these past couple months because our lives have been crazy-busy. Craig and I were both engrossed in our respective projects, each incredibly difficult. While I was working towards finishing my PhD work, he was struggling just as hard to make sense of the German driving rules in preparation for his written driver’s test (and the corresponding German bureaucracy surrounding it). It’s humorous to suggest that one would have to work as hard preparing for a driver’s test as writing a dissertation, but I assure you I am not being sarcastic.
First off, let’s discuss what it takes to get a driver’s license in Germany. As you may know, Craig has been driving throughout Germany for a few months already, and he was doing so legally. German law states that holders of US driver’s licenses may drive in Germany for up to 6 months, but must obtain a German license after that. As Craig’s 6 month grace period was set to expire, it was essential that he pass his driver’s test to acquire a valid license or build a teleportation device to get him to and from work.
What an American driver has to do to acquire a German license depends on which state he/she currently holds a license in. As a Minnesotan, Craig was exempt from taking the road test (thank goodness), but still needed to pass a written examination. Some states get exemptions from BOTH the road and written exams, and an unlucky 13 states have to pass both exams (for the full list, click here).
Here’s what Craig had to do to get his driver’s license:
- Set up a meeting to visit the Ordnungsamt (German DVM?) to let them know that he was seeking a German license.
- Get a new, official German translation of his documents because the Ordnungsamt did not accept his “international driver’s license” (a reasonably priced translation of his credentials into several languages, including German) that he got from the States. Cost: €40.
- Return to the Ordnungsamt to ensure his documents were in order before continuing.
- Locate a nearby Fahrschule (Driving School) to get his training materials. Here Craig received a large instruction book (in German so it was essentially useless), a yellow safety vest (obligatory for all German drivers to keep in their cars in case of roadside emergency), and a CD of practice questions (in German and English). Cost: €80.
- Learn the answers to 1300 possible exam questions! (More on that in a bit.)
- Take a 30 question pretest at the Fahrschule. Cost: €10.
- After passing the pretest (at least 28/30), pay another €30 to SCHEDULE the real exam and then €20.86 to take the actual test (in cash, exact change only, because, you know, it’s Germany).
- Make a final appointment with the Ordnungsamt to submit his paperwork, forfeit his American licence!…and then pay an additional €5 to get the German license mailed.
After 8 steps of paperwork, bureaucracy, and shelling out a bunch of cash, Craig finally got his license!
So what is the Written Driving test actually like?
Great question. Many of the questions are similar to what you would find on on a typical American diving exam, but some of them are highly confusing to downright contradictory to American rules. Go ahead, test yourself as we go along. Oh, and multiple answer choices are possible, so… viel Glück! (Good luck!)
Here it’s simply a matter of knowing the definition. If you didn’t know it initially, it can easily be memorized. Answer: C. The actual load being towed.
2. Hint: the answer is not to pull over and whiz in the bushes
Just like in America you should never pass on the right, except in Germany it is more strictly enforced. Answer: A & B The shoulder is used for slow vehicles or stopping and parking. Might I add, it seems in Germany any ol’ sidewalk may also be used for haphazardly parking your car.
3. And then there’s the issue of poor English translations…
Here’s a hint – “dazzle” mean glare. Hopefully now it makes more sense…or not. I still don’t know what “dipped” refers to. Answer: A, B, and C. Anything can dazzle your headlights… they are apparently easy to amuse 😉
4. Once you actually understand what dazzle means, this next question becomes more clear…
Accelerate right into the other car! Nah, just kidding. Answer: A and C.
5. Now, what about this one…
I call this the impossible math question. I’m good at math, I promise, but I don’t think I will ever make sense of this question. Answer: A. 1000 kg. …1900+1000<2400?? Also, 1500 kg permissible towed load (question) ≠ 1500 kg permissible total mass towed (answer)??… I give up.
6. OK geniuses, what do you do here?
Contrary to American driving, there aren’t always stop signs when you approach an intersection, so you can’t just go ahead of the other cars if you don’t see one. Germans follow the right of way rules where drivers to the right of you are given priority. Answer: A. Give way to the green car. (The red car must give way to you.)
Really, what do you think? There is a stop sign AND a stop light, and the light is green. What would you do??
Answer: Just go. Seriously, you’re supposed to go! The answer is B, pass through the crossing without stopping. Come on, Germans! What happened to the straight-forward, logical way of doing things??? Why on earth is there a stop sign there in the first place, especially if you are not supposed to stop??
This question is just the worst. When Craig showed me this, I finally took pity on him and acknowledged how real his struggle was. He had to learn 1300 of these bogus questions with more than 90% proficiency, and to everyone’s surprise, he did it! (Just kidding, I knew he would…eventually.)
Bravo, Craig! Bravo to all German license holders!
Also, I’m really happy I won’t be driving in this country. Would you be able to pass the test?
How did you do on the mock German driver’s test? Have you ever gotten a license in another country? Tell us about your experience!
(Graphics and test questions for this post are from Click & Learn 360º and are copyrighted by Degener GmbH. Materials are used here only for educational and commentary purposes.)