Speed cameras in Germany

Hello! My sister and I were driving through Germany and were traveling on B51 between cologne and Luxembourg. It was rainy and darkish, but only like 8 pm so not dark. We were in a country setting - no towns nearby. There was a bend in the road and the speedlimit went abruptly from 90 km to 70 km and she was down to 82 km when I saw a big red flash from a small, low box along the road. She's never ever received a speeding ticket and definitely not in a rental car oversees. Is 12km over a huge deal in Germany? How long will the ticket (I'm assuming there will be a ticket, right?) take to arrive in the States or is it sent to the rental car company? Also, will it appear on her US driving record, which is pristine? Thanks for any advice. I told her someone on the forum likely knows the answer. This has been a lesson learned and we've both decided to never drive in Germany again. The speedlimit postings aren't the best. By the way the car was rented in Holland. She'll ( and I'll help) pay any fine, I just am worried about her US driving record. Thanks!

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1760 posts

I'm not 100% certain but I'd wager that there'll be no impact on her US record. California doesn't even know I had a smack-up in South Carolina. I truly wish radar traps were widespread in this country. They would cut down on a lot of driving nonsense, accidents, insurance premiums, and of course injuries. Speed can kill.

Posted by Mari
Columbus
18 posts

Does anyone else have an idea? She is an exceptional driver. This is her first time driving in Europe. She was slowing down as soon as she saw the speed reduction she just hadn't gotten down to 70 from 90 yet - she was at 82. Any helpful comments about any impact on her US driving record would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Ps - I may be an exception, but I believe in doing the right thing because it's the right thing and not because a camera is watching you - which I think is just a tiny bit "1984ish" anyway.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10888 posts

There has not been much reported here about traffic tickets from Germany. The biggest discussion is about the Italians. It takes nearly a year for the ticket to show up so by then, all of the extra penalties for non-payment are kicking in. If ignored, it appears that the Italians are using US based collection agencies to go after the fines. Don't know what the Germans are doing. It may take some time to come. It should no impact on US driving record as that type of information is not shared.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

If you're an Auto Club member, why not try calling the 'Member Services' line to ask if they know? If you say you're calling only to ask a general question and don't give your own membership number or name, they might give you an answer that would put your mind at ease but it wouldn't connect back to your account. The real concern is whether the ticket would result in points against her license and be reported to her insurance company. I agree with above replies that it's unlikely that would happen. They would probably be content to only collect the fine and be done with it.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

For 12 km over the speed limit, the fine isn't going to be much. Likely less than €30. How you are billed depends on the rental company's policies. They may bill your credit card, or they may send you the ticket. The former solution would be easier for someone who lives in the US, because the latter would involve making a bank transfer. And the instructions on the ticket, of course, will be in German. Those speed cameras are just a fact of life in Germany... and in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, etc. I know of the locations of all the cameras on my normal driving routes, so I try to be careful... but rarely, I still get hit when diriving in a new area. But personally, I would rather just get a ticket in the mail then get pulled over by the Polizei.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
783 posts

As to whether it would be a 'huge deal' it would be broadly equivalent to doing 53 mph in a 45 mph zone. I understand some US states have an absolute limit where 1 mph over would be enough for a ticket on a bad day. As another example the UK tends to set cameras at the speed limit plus 10% plus 3 mph - your sister would have triggered that by a small margin.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

In Germany, especially in many of the small towns, if you're over the posted limit, you're over......some say there's a 5km grace, but I disagree. I got a ticket last year going 13km in a 10km zone. A kid on a scooter was going faster in the residential area than me..seriously. 15Euro fine from a mobil camera car. If you got flashed, you'll get a ticket. With it being a rental I can't guestimate how long it will be. You could call the 'Rathaus' or local city hall in the town you were in to find out the status. You could also call the rental company to see if it's come to them yet. I have friends here with a German address who've gotten one 6-12 months later. It has no bearing on your US driving record, although you are correct in that it should be paid and not forgotten about or dismissed.

Posted by Mari
Columbus
18 posts

Thanks so much. I'll help her pay it, because she was driving safely literally out in the middle of nowhere near nothing and she was slowing down from 90 to 70 as soon as she saw the sign. The big concern was that it would be on her currently completely clean American driving record, so I'm glad and relieved that it won't. That was my big concern for her. It will be a long time if ever that either of us will want to visit Germany again. Also other posts said three months to receive the ticket, so I'm a little confused about the longer time period. She'd just like to pay it and be done but since we were near no cities that we saw, we'd have no idea who to call. Maybe the rental car company will be alerted first and then notify us? Thanks again.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

" It will be a long time if ever that either of us will want to visit Germany again. " Because your sister received a ticket for speeding?

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

What Bob said. It's such a shame when people have one unfortunate experience during a trip and that's the strong memory they bring home with them and it causes them to not want to return. I mean, would getting caught in a speed trap at home cause one to want to pick up house and home and move? It's a bit of an exaggerated comparison, admittedly, but the logic is similar. It's only a traffic ticket; it was not an accident where life or property was at risk. And the driver was speeding. I recall reading something a while ago that said drivers in Germany are expected to know even the subtle rules of the road, including speed zones and limits, some of which are not always clearly signed. I just tried to find what I had read, but it eludes me now.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

The cameras have been in use in Europe since the early 1980s.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

"I recall reading something a while ago that said drivers in Germany are expected to know even the subtle rules of the road, including speed zones and limits, some of which are not always clearly signed." What you probably read about is the implied traffic law when you see a sign like this. Besides announcing the name of the town you just entered, it signals that the speed limit has changed to 50 km/hr, unless otherwise noted. If you don't know this, there may not be a speed limit sign, but there can still be a camera. Likewise, this sign tells you both that you've left the town, and that you can speed up again. And yeah... never visiting Germany again because of one traffic ticket that's only going to cost a few euro? That's a bit dramatic...

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
869 posts

Mari; 1. Mari, this will have NO bearing on her "record". 2. Many states/insurance companies throw out speeding tickets ( Minor infractions) after three years; i.e. they don't count against you. I am an example of that: I average one minor infraction every four years. I have never had my insurance canceled or raised. 3. "Don't worry; be happy!". One little speeding ticket and now Germany is "Verboten"? Come on, you are driving in a strange country; you should not be worried when something minor happens. 4. My GPS gives a me an audible and visual alarm when; a. I exceed the speed limit
b. get near one of these fixed radar units. Buy a good little GPS, load it with EU maps and go back and enjoy the EU. There is so much to see and do!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3586 posts

"California doesn't even know I had a smack-up in South Carolina." They know now, Russ... they know now ;-) Mari, your sister will stay pristine, or as my French-speaking Swiss friends would say, your sister will remain a 'virgin'. She may be extremely happy to hear that... I read the other posts, but can't remember if any one mentioned - in addition to warning you it may take 3-9 months to even receive a ticket - the charges may come in dribbles: first, the credit card company charges you $25 (or whatever) for a 'research fee', then a month later the actual ticket may arrive, then some other little charge ('processing fee') will appear on your card... Look at it this way - a European vacation is full of little incidentals (buying guidebooks, paying too much for a plate of so-so pasta, buying a reservation on top of your train pass/ticket, buying a bus/metro pass then not getting your money's worth from it). This (assumed) ticket is just another 'incidental'. Well, do your best to look at it like that, anyway ;-)