Thursday, April 26, 2012

America vs. Germany - Part II

Hallo Ihr Lieben,

it's me again. Talking about the differences between my two favorite countries. The topic I want to talk about today is "driving". I have never thought that there would be so many differences. 

It starts with the car. As a German I am used to drive a car with a gearshift and a clutch. I have never driven an automatic car before. You should think that it is easier to drive an automatic car but NO. It isn't. At least not for me. It was hard to get used to an automatic car. And it still is. I feel so redundant because I don't really need to use my right hand, I don't need to use my left foot. It drives me crazy. I mean, every time I stop I want to use my left foot but then realize that I don't need to do that. I want to change the gear all the time. But I don't have to. I think I will never get used to it. I love driving a German car because I feel like I am needed. I have to do things. It keeps me entertained. 

Another thing that freaks me out is that it seems like there is no such thing like "Rechts vor Links" (left yields to right) in America. 

It is confusing. I mean, in Germany the blue car is allowed to drive first in that case because there is no car on its right. Then the yellow car can drive and finally the red one. But how is it in America? I asked David about it but it really seems like there is no rule. So is the biggest car allowed to drive first? The most expensive car? The fastest car? The driver who can yell really loud? I really don't know. But no, I never had an accident. And I really hope it won't happen because of all the confusing rules. 

It drives me crazy that cars are allowed to pass other cars on the right. It is forbidden in Germany. The slow cars drive on the right and then you can pass them on the left. In America everybody drives the way she/he wants and you have to be careful not to run into another car when you change the lane. Dangerous.

I am allowed to drive as fast as I want on the German Autobahn. 

(By the way, David has the exact same shirt. He got it from his Dad who went on a business trip to Germany a couple of years ago)

As far as I can see you are allowed to drive 65 miles per hour on most highways in America (I have seen 75 mp/h in Colorado). That is only 104 km/h. So slow! I have to admit that on some German Autobahnen you are only allowed to drive 120 km/h. But that is still a lot faster than on every American highway. Most times I drive around 130-140 km/h on the German Autobahn and I am definitely not the fastest driver. But 65 mp/h on a road that is completely straight and has 4 lanes? Come on! Maybe you think that the Autobahn is more dangerous than the American highways and that there are more accidents but I don't think so. I have read that the Autobahn is pretty safe.

And why are your traffic lights on the other side of a crossroad? That's confusing for Germans. 

Here is a German traffic light.

And here one in America.

And why do some of the American cars look like they are not able to drive 2 more miles? In Germany we have an institution called "TÜV" and they check your car every two years. If something is wrong you are not allowed to drive that car until you have fixed the problem. But it seems that something like the TÜV doesn't exist in America. Some cars are just rust on wheels. I'd say that's not safe at all! We are allowed to drive fast in Germany but at least we have secure cars. I guess that's why you are only allowed to drive 65 mp/h in America. 

At least there is right-hand traffic in both countries. I think left-hand traffic would overcharge me. 

Did you ever drive in another country?


  1. i think what you find as oddities, i find as the norm. :) cars in the US have to legally pass inspection to be allowed on the road if they are older than a certain year (most states), so sometimes just because a car looks like shit doesnt mean its a road hazard ;) and i think the reason why cars may look crappier in the US is because EVERYONE drives. its not that case in europe. american public transportation is basically everyone needs a vehicle. if everyone in germany had to own a vehicle to get around im sure some would look shitty.

    i cant adjust to driving manual here in norway. hope i can figure it out, but for me, i like to concentrate on driving, not worrying about gear changes! i just need more practice and ill be fine. the cars in norway are so different than the US is what ive found. in the US the cars are mostly so luxurious and gas norway and most of europe cars are basic and all look the same. sometimes when my boyfriend and i go to the store i cant find our car after we leave! but i think norway is more conformed than the US...and i think that is no exception on car choices.

    one thing i struggle with adjusting to here are roundabouts. they scare the daylights out of me!

    1. Yeah, I can understand that all the things I find weird are normal for you. :) That's the funny thing about all the differences.
      And you are absolutely right about the public transportation system in America. I always used the train to go to work in Germany but in America there is just no train. And no bus. That is really weird for me. So yeah, people have to drive. :) I did not know that there is a car inspection in America. Some of the cars really look like there is no such thing.
      And Americans definitely have the bigger cars. You don't really see pick-ups or cars like that in Europe. So all the cars look similar. But I still have problems to find our car after we leave a store. :)
      It is weird, why are there no roundabouts in America? I think I have seen one. :) And I really love them. :)
      I think it is so difficult to get used to things like these. But I hope will succeed someday! :)

  2. Hi Katrin! Da musste ich jetzt aber den Kopf schütteln. Ich schreibe mal Englisch weiter, damit alle was verstehen...

    I just LOVE driving cars with automatic gear although I am used to drive manual. It is always hard for me to get back to manual gear after a long vacation overseas.

    As far as I remember the traffic rules, or at least what I was told when I lived in the States, is that it is "first come, first serve" as long as there are no signs that tell you otherwise. I may be wrong though.

    If you think about the speed on our German Autobahn you certainly will agree that it would be extremely dangerous if we were allowed to pass other cars on the right as well. We would have way more accidents than we already have. You know that many German drivers think they are the only ones on the Autobahn. This is something that really scares me. And it usually freaks me out the first time I have to drive on a highway. Always! But I get used to it pretty fast.
    On the other hand - what would happen if the speed limit was like ours here in Germany? Don't you think that they would have way more accidents as well?

    I remember the car I drove while I lived in the U.S. I was lucky enough to be able to drive a 12 year old dark brown Volvo with a leaking sunroof. When it rained I could hear water swash around in the trunk. So my host mom drilled a hole in the trunk for the water to drain off. But somehow I liked that car although it was actually shit. It died on me more than once and had to be towed away.

    I actually wish that the traffic lights here were on the other side like in the States. Because what happens when I am the first one in line I usually lean halfway over my wheel just to be able to see the light. Last time we got back from Florida I actually almost ran a red light because I looked past it. I was so used to be able to see the light on the opposite side of the road.

    Oh well, I could go on and on. To sum it up - I rather drive in the States than I do here in Germany.


    1. Hey Chrissy! Thank you so much for your comment! It always made me smile!

      I have to say that it is hard for me to get back to a manual car too. But I am usually fine after 10 minutes and then I enjoy it so much more!

      I really think it is 'first come, first serve'.

      But yeah, I absolutely agree that it would be terrible to allow cars to drive as fast as they are in Germany. I mean, for me it is so scary when cars pass me on the right so it's good that they are not that fast. And some German drivers scare the hell out of me when they pass me with 220 km/h. But for me 130 km/h is a good speed when there is not much traffic.

      I love the description of your first car in America. :) It is an amazing idea to drill a hole in the trunk. :)

      I am always confused when I look for a traffic light on my side of the crossroad. Maybe I just need some more time to get used to it! :)

    2. Yes, my host mom was a very practical person ;) and really, really nice too.

      How long have you been in the U.S.?


    3. How long did you stay there?
      I have been in America since October. But I have been there before for 3 months and a vacation.

    4. I lived there for one year. And I had a really good time. Although this was 16 years ago I remember it as it was only a few months ago. I guess that is the reason why I try to travel to the U.S. whenever I can.

    5. I can imagine that you had a really good time. Your host mom sounds lovely! :)

  3. Hello!

    It is first come, first serve at four way stops. If two cars happen to arrive at the same time the left is suppose to yield to the right. We're not suppose to pass on the right, but people do it anyway. (rebels, I guess?)

    The vehicle inspections depend on the state. We live in Michigan and there isn't a system here. When we lived in Louisiana we had to get our vehicle inspected every year. New Jersey has an inspection system, too.

    As far as the stoplights go..I don't know! I remember that they use to hang in the middle of the intersection and now it's starting to change and they're all on the opposite side of the road. Maybe the road commission is board and wants to change it up? LOL

    1. Hello Trish!
      Thank you so much for all the explanations!
      I have thought that it is allowed to pass on the right because everybody does it. :) It really scares me alot!

      I don't think that Ohio has a vehicle inspection. I always see so many cars that look like crap. :) But at least some states have it!

      Haha, it seems that there are really bored. :) I don't understand why you would change that!

  4. Hallo Katrin,

    bevor ich es vergesse: Es ist immer ein richtiges Vergnügen, in Deinem Blog zu lesen :-)

    Vielleicht stehe ich auch nur auf der Leitung, aber wozu brauchst Du denn Deine linke Hand bei einem Schalt- eher als bei einem Automatikgetriebe?

    Und: Bekommst Du es mit, wenn ich Kommentare von Dir in "world of PD" kommentiere?

    Liebe Grüße, PD

  5. Hallo PD!

    Das freut mich aber sehr! :)) Dankeschön, ich fühl mich wirklich geehrt!

    Du stehst gar nicht auf der Leitung, das war ein Fehler meinerseits. :) Ich meinte natürlich die rechte Hand! Danke fürs Draufaufmerksammachen! :)

    Hab grad schon einen Kommentar auf Deinem Blog hinterlassen, ich habs leider nicht mitbekommen. Muss da wohl was an den Einstellungen ändern!

    Lieber Gruß, Katrin

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Wenn Du direkt rechts unter dem Post bzw. Kommentar "Per E-Mail abonnieren" anklickst, kommt jedes Mal, wenn zu diesem Post kommentiert wird, eine Benachrichtigung :-)

      Und wenn wir schon dabei sind: Auch wenn Du eigentlich gar nicht zur Hauptzielgruppe von world of PD gehörst (Du bist ja schon "bekehrt" :-)), würde ich mich doch sooo freuen, wenn Du "Mitglied" (ganz oben links "folgen") würdest ...

      Dann hast Du aber 'n paar Wünsche frei :-)

    3. Ah okay, danke fürs erklären! Ich blick da noch nicht ganz so durch! Werd das aber von nun an tun! Ich 'folge' Dir jetzt auch. Wusste vorher auch nicht wie das geht!
      Freie Wünsche sind natürlich immer gut!

  6. Ha the German dad I work for said he likes driving in the US way better - much more relaxing, less traffic on those between city type highways, etc. I haven't driven in Germany yet but will have to when I switch jobs and I also have to learn to drive a stick shift, nervous!

    1. I am sure you will be fine! Don't be nervous. I am sure you will get used to it really fast!
      But yeah, I mean, the streets in America are bigger and there is less traffic so it is definitely much more relaxing!

  7. I've driven both a left hand and a right hand drive car here in France, plus a manual and an automatic. I'm so clever, me!!! :-) I prefer manual - as you say, your left hand and foot feel redundant!
    The thing that gets me in France is "priority to the right" - you give way to a car coming from the right. It seems so bizarre to not have clear signals (as we do in the UK in the form of "give way" lines) about which car gives way. I still haven't got used to it, after 6 years, and - although I've not had an accident - I've had some near misses.

    I suppose there's always going to be things that it's difficult to get used to.

  8. Wow, you can drive everything! :)) I am glad I am not the only one who prefers a manual!
    We have this 'priority to the right' in Germany too! So when there is no sign that the car from the right is allowed to drive. But I guess it is much easier to have a sign. :)

  9. i guess it just depends on which you learn first!!

    1. Maybe so. :) But as you can see there are Germans who love to drive an automatic car. :)

  10. I don't drive, I'm spoilt and prefer being driven (and sadly my husband feels the same) so we're masters of cab catching! I found driving in Timor Leste to be nuts (rivaled by driving in India!) Your're descriptions were so wonderful and funny to read Katrin!

    1. It's funny that you both don't like to drive. :) I am sure driving in India is such a chaos!I have seen it on TV....:)
      And thank you for the compliment, Vanisha! It means a lot to me!

  11. arghh...yes, that american trafic light. confussing

  12. Technically the car on the right is supposed to go first, but people are boogers and just do what they want! And you're not supposed to pass on the right but again--people have no regard for law, courtesy or safety.

    The traffic lights bother me too, believe it or not. When I'm driving in the city sometimes I have trouble seeing exactly where to start and stop in the traffic line at the upcoming intersections. It seems like it would be at the light and all of a sudden I end up slamming on my brakes to stop at the correct stop line.

    Maybe I drove in Germany in a past life!!

    1. Okay, it seems like there are laws but nobody cares. :) In Germany you have to pay a lot of money when you pass on the right. I always get so confused when people do that!

      I am so glad that the traffic lights bother you too! You would love the German ones! Trust me!

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