Germany plans to allow drivers to ride motorbikes without need to take test

The Government wants to relax licence rules so that car drivers can ride motorcycles that reach speeds of over 100km/h without having to take a test, German media reported Thursday.

Germany plans to allow drivers to ride motorbikes without need to take test
Two motorcyclists in Göttingen. Photo: DPA

It means everyone with a licence would be able to ride so-called light motorcycles without having to do additional exams, according to German news website Spiegel Online.

But the proposal, being put forward by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, has already come under fire from experts.

According to the draft amendment to the Driving Licence Rules viewed by Spiegel, the only requirement for drivers would be six practice hours and the completion of a theoretical training unit.

But accident experts are horrified by the proposal. There are no “sufficient reasons to relax the access to the second most dangerous vehicle class on German roads,” said a statement from the German Road Safety Council.

Figures show that more than one in five people killed on Germany's roads are motorcyclists, despite far fewer of them on the road compared with other drivers, The Local reported earlier this year.

Of the 3,265 people who died on roads nationwide last year, 699 were motorcyclists, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting a German driving licence

What does it mean?

Spiegel reports that if the rules are changed then drivers would be able to extend their standard B-Class driving licence (B-Klasse-Führerschein) by a so-called key number (Schlüsselzahl) 195, which would allow them to ride light motorcycles. Typical manufacturers of these vehicles are Piaggio, Yamaha and KTM.

These lightweight motorcycles have a maximum engine output of 15hp but can travel at speeds of over 100 km/h. Previously, a separate A1 driving licence was required for this.

An examination and extensive training on the motorbike would no longer be necessary. Instead, under the changes, it'd be sufficient for the driver to complete a 90-minute theoretical unit and six practical driving lessons. The latter can take place outside road traffic, for example at a traffic training area.

Drivers must be at least 25 years old and have had their driving licence for at least five years.

Increase in accident victims

Experts say that more people will be killed or injured in motorcycle accidents if the changes go ahead.

It can be assumed that “there would be an increase in the total number of accident victims,” according to an analysis by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BAST) available to Spiegel.

Changing the current regulations is “not recommended from a scientific point of view,” researchers added.

It's not clear why Scheuer wants to relax the rules. The draft only states that the legislator wants to use the possibilities offered by EU law.

However, in addition to motorbike manufacturers, sharing providers would also benefit from the changes. For example, they could lend scooters to customers that are faster than the 45 km/h that have been the norm so far.

Neighbouring country Austria has already relaxed the rules but, according to BAST's analysis, this has led to a “deterioration in road safety”.

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Germany ranked ‘most difficult country’ for foreign residents to get started

Germany has been ranked bottom of a new international ranking that looked at how countries make life easy or difficult for newly arriving foreign nationals.

Germany ranked 'most difficult country' for foreign residents to get started

The Expat Insider 2022 study surveyed around 12,000 foreign citizens in 52 countries and asked them to rate their country of residence in the subcategories of dealing with administration, housing, digital life and language.

Bahrain topped the list, followed by the United Arab Emerates in second and Singapore in third place. International residents reported that all three countries offer easy communication and a lack of language barrier, while also posing minimal bureaucratic hurdles. 

Of the 52 countries reported on, Germany came bottom of the list behind Japan (51st) and China (50th). It also landed in the bottom ten in three out of four subcategories: Housing (47th), Digital Life (48th), and Language (49th).  

In the housing category, expats reported that housing in Germany is both hard to find and afford.

READ ALSO: Why Germany is seeing the ‘worst housing shortage in 20 years’

“It may take up to three months to find even a temporary accommodation,” one contributor from Poland reported.

Foreign citizens do not fare much better when it comes to language in Germany either: 46 percent said it is difficult to live in Germany without speaking the local language (compared to 32 percent globally), even though 60 percent reported speaking the language fairly well or very well. A full 55 percent rated German as hard to learn, compared to 38 percent globally.

Germany also landed in the bottom five countries worldwide when it comes to digital infrastructure (48th), such as cashless payment options (51st) and easy access to a fast Internet connection (49th).

Germany’s lack of digitalisation is a major issue and 24 percent of expats reported finding it hard to get high-speed internet access at home, compared to 11 percent globally, while 27 percent are unsatisfied with the lack of cashless payment options (compared to 8 percent globally).

READ ALSO: Is card payment finally gaining ground in Germany?

The poor digital infrastructure also impacts the availability of government online services – a subcategory in which Germany came in 43rd place. A total of 52 percent of expats reported finding it difficult to deal with the local authorities, compared to 39 percent globally. 

“I really hate German bureaucracy,” one person from the UK said. “Especially the fact that nothing is digitised! It takes forever to get in touch with any of  the local government offices to discuss residence permits and the like.”  

Germany did slightly better in the category Admin Topics overall, where it came in 36th place.

How does Germany compare to its German-speaking neighbours?

Compared to its neighbouring German-speaking countries, Germany also scored worse in every category. In the overall ranking, Switzerland and Austria landed much higher up the list – in 20th and 32nd place respectively. 

A sign points to the Foreigners' Authority and the Public Order Office in Frankfurt am Main.

A sign points to the Foreigners’ Authority and the Public Order Office in Frankfurt am Main. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

The ratings for the three countries diverge sharply on two aspects in particular: foreigners in Germany complain about the lack of digital infrastructure (48th) and administrative topics (36th), while international residents in Switzerland are very satisfied with these aspects of life. Switzerland ranks among the top ten countries worldwide in both subcategories (7th in each), while Austria ranked around the middle of the list for digital infrastructure (29th) and administration (27th).

Austria ranked much higher than Germany in Switzerland for housing and came in 25th place, while Germany (47th) and Switzerland (44th) rank in the bottom ten when it comes to the availability and affordability of housing for foreign residents.

“The housing shortage here is a real problem, as well as the constant increase in rent prices, while salaries are not increasing at the same rate,” said one participant from Ukraine.

Despite German being one of the official languages in all three DACH countries, German residents perceived the language barrier as more of a difficulty (49th place) than those living in Austria (38th place) or Switzerland (30th place).

“Germans are prejudiced if you don’t speak German well enough, especially at the offices,” one Romanian survey participant said.

READ ALSO: IN DEPTH: Are Germany’s immigration offices making international residents feel unwelcome?