EXAMPLE: DRIVER TRAINING IN GERMANY
Driving motor vehicles on public roads is associated with extensive risks. For this reason, in Germany it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on public roads without a valid driver’s license. According to German Road Transport Law, the issuing of a driver’s license is dependent on meeting the following seven conditions:
- Residence in Germany
- Minimum age
- Fitness to drive
- Training (according to driving instructor law)
- Competence (passing one’s driving test)
- First aid course
- Not possessing another driver’s license from an EU member state or a non-member state which is party to the Agreement on the European Economic Area.
Fitness to drive and competence form the main requirements in the right to have a driver’s license, as they have a direct influence on road safety. In the hierarchy of requirements, fitness to drive is conceived as a precondition for training and competence. To this effect, if the respective administrative authority is given information that someone who has applied for a driver’s license is not fit to drive, that person is not permitted to take the qualification examination until the deficiencies have been addressed. To be considered fit to drive, a person must meet the necessary physical and cognitive requirements and have not significantly or repeatedly violated traffic regulations or criminal law. Some of the factors that are relevant to someone’s fitness to drive include medical conditions or health impairments, which include a poor sense of sight or hearing, heart, vascular, and renal disorders, and issues resulting from alcohol and drug consumption and from taking medication.
Every time a driving license authority receives a first-time application for a driver’s license, it must identify whether there are any concerns regarding the applicant’s fitness to drive a motor vehicle. If this is the case, the applicant must undergo a medical and psychological evaluation, or medical evaluation. In special cases, such as a physical impairment due to a missing limb, the applicant must also undergo an evaluation from an officially approved expert or examiner. These evaluations help the driving license authority to make their decision.
If there a no concerns around the applicant’s fitness to drive, and the relevant registers, such as the Register of Driver Fitness (FAER) and the German Federal Central Register, do not contain any incriminatory data, the applicant is allowed to proceed with their driving theory and practical training. The core of this is teaching the applicable traffic rules, traffic signs, and traffic regulations. This includes the fundamental obligation to always be cautious and considerate in road traffic, and to avoid posing a hazard and causing damage to, obstructing, and causing disturbance to other road users.
In the driving theory examination, applicants have to answer questions on the risks of driving in traffic, how to behave in traffic, priorities and right of way, traffic signs, and vehicle- class-related material. In order to pass the exam, applicants must score approximately 90 percent. Applicants are only allowed to answer one right of way question incorrectly. The practical driving test for a car driver’s license lasts for at least 55 minutes and is then evaluated by the officially approved examiner and expert on the basis of a test report with clear error criteria. In general, the driver training concept practiced in Germany seems to be positively received. In the aforementioned DEKRA-commissioned Forsa survey, 92 percent of people surveyed stated that the training they received in driving school prepared them very well or well for driving in actual road traffic.