Achtung! (Watch out!)
Germany’s “highway patrol” – called the Autobahnpolizei – is part of each German state’s Landespolizei, just as in the USA. However, some of the smaller states in Germany (Bundesländer) do not have a separate autobahn division and use the normal traffic police for patroling the autobahn. The German autobahn police are usually less visible than in the US, but in a way you may never have suspected.
| How to say it
die Autobahn = dee OW-tow-bahn
die Polizei = dee POLL-its-eye
Besides unmarked police cars (with video cameras to verify violations), one of the weapons in their arsenal is the “automated police officer.” Along certain stretches of autobahn or highway (Bundesstraße), usually in high-traffic areas, special radar-linked police cameras are stationed over the roadway or on the side of the highway ready to take a revealing snapshot of you and your car at any time of the day or night. Displayed prominently in this special photograph, besides you and your car, is a record of your speed, the date, the time, and the location. Drivers don’t even know what happened until their photographic speeding ticket arrives in the mail a few days later. Although some have tried, these incriminating photos are difficult to fight, and German courts have ruled that the “camera police” are perfectly legal. The photographic police are also located at city intersections to catch drivers who run red lights.
NEW! Driving on the Autobahn
Seven important rules of the road!
Some German drivers were finding these photos incriminating in another way: their spouses were less than happy when, in the radar-trap photo, they saw someone else sitting next to their partner, someone of the opposite sex who was not supposed to be there. To avoid a higher German divorce rate, the police have ceased sending the actual photos to the offender’s home. Now when the traffic ticket arrives in the mail, the person caught in the act has to go down to the police station to view the traffic photo and protest the charges.
A German “highway patrol” TV series
A popular German TV series called “Alarm für Cobra 11” depicts a fictional Autobahnpolizei investigative unit (code-named Cobra 11). The show has been running on the private German RTL television channel since 1996, but has been criticized for unrealistically over-dramatizing the real, less spectacular work of the Autobahnpolizei. Most episodes begin with a spectacular crash or crime. The series is also broadcast in Austria (ORF 1) and Switzerland (3+). Dubbed versions of the show can be seen in many foreign countries, including Canada, France, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan and Spain. RTL also offers some past episodes on DVD. There are several game versions for PCs, PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360.
- WEB: Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei (Wikipedia, in German)
- WEB: Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizei (Wikipedia, in English)
On the Swiss Autobahn
The Swiss have invented another form of automatic traffic control. Although he can’t give you a ticket, he can certainly give you a start! Motorists at first think they're being flagged to slow down at construction sites. Only when they pass close by the motorized dummy do they finally realize they’ve been fooled. Even after you know the trick, these mechanical flagmen, dressed in bright neon orange, still manage to get your attention with a constantly waving arm.
Copyright © 1997-2012 Hyde Flippo. All rights reserved.
NEXT > Police
- The Autobahn - Legend and reality
- Driving on the Autobahn - Seven vital rules!
- Autobahn Tolls - You'll need to buy an autobahn sticker in Austria and Switzerland.
- Driving (from the book)
- Driving: Environmental Zones - Many cities in Germany have "green zones" that require a special sticker for entry.
- Police - The Polizei in Germany, with links to German and Austrian police websites
- Driving - Part 2 - Driving tips for Germany
- Cultural Differences - USA-Germany - Comparison charts for various customs and daily life in the two countries!
- Hotels in Germany - Lodging in Germany and Europe
- How to Get a German Driver’s License
- GPS Navigation in Germany and Europe - rent or buy
- Travel Page - Travel-related links of all kinds for German-speaking Europe
MORE > Driving in Germany