Great concern gripped some of Germany’s car owners after 22 May 2021. The owners of classic cars feared that their driving licence could be revoked. The outrage was triggered by a new law passed by the German Bundestag.
This resolution took place on 21 May on the printed matter 432/21: “Fourth law amending the Road Traffic Act and other road traffic regulations”. Actually, the law was supposed to ensure that the Road Traffic Act, which had become confusing, was modernised and made more comprehensible to citizens. The classic car scene did not have a problem with this either, because the excitement was only directed at one particular paragraph.
The important paragraph reads as follows:
“§6 paragraph 4
(2) The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is authorised, insofar as it is necessary to avert dangers to the safety or ease of traffic on public roads, to issue statutory ordinances without the consent of the Bundesrat on the following:
- to avert dangers arising from traffic on public roads,
- for the protection
a) against harmful effects on the environment emanating from vehicles, or
(b) the population in pedestrian areas or areas with reduced traffic density, the residential population or people seeking recreation from emissions emanating from traffic on public roads, in particular for the protection against noise or against exhaust gases.”
What does this decision mean?
This law allows the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to make its own decisions about traffic and its participants, as long as they serve to protect the population.
Thus, according to the fears of classic car owners, there is a legal basis for excluding classic cars from traffic. There was great indignation that the federal government would here pass a law that would retroactively allow tightening of exhaust emission standards, noise limits or general restrictions on the range of movement of old cars.
It was therefore not surprising that a petition was started on the portal “openPetition” on 24 May 2021 demanding that the law be amended. Specifically, the petition aimed to delete numbers one to four completely from paragraph 6, to have numbers two and four of the paragraph deleted or, alternatively, to introduce grandfathering for vehicles that have already been registered once – even if they have been deregistered in the meantime.
By the summer, the situation had become visibly tense – by the beginning of July, the petition had collected 58,034 signatures and there was a lot of discussion about whether the government would really ban certain vehicles, such as Vespas and Lambrettas, from the roads completely.
In order to clarify whether and what danger the new law poses to classic cars, lawyers from the ADAC investigated the new law. Together with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft historische Fahrzeuge (AGHF) and the Parlamentskreis Automobiles Kulturgut (PAK), they tried to assess the possible consequences of the law for classic cars.
In doing so, they came to a result that contradicted the previous opinion on the law: because an impending driving ban for historic vehicles could not be proven. The examiners came to the conclusion that this law does not grant any authority more rights than they had previously possessed. In fact, the new law merely tidied up some of the previous text. The only major change is the lowering of the age for the AM16 licence. Thus the petition was declared moot.
Much responsibility for classic scooter owners
Even though the text of the law has not changed in fact, owners of classic cars and scooters should realise that the law does not necessarily have to remain as it is.
Because even if the general public and the government see classic cars as cultural assets worthy of protection, this can change quickly.
Thus, classic car owners should be absolutely aware of their responsibility: Only if they continue to manage to maintain this positive image will they continue to be seen with pleasure on Germany’s roads. It is therefore important to show consideration for all other road users and to drive carefully.
Classic cars are a hobby that does not have it easy – accordingly, the owners of the cars and scooters look anxiously at every change in the laws on road traffic regulations. Politicians try to calm the tempers: Oliver Luksic, the spokesman for transport and digital infrastructure of the FDP parliamentary group, explains that neither the new law nor future laws contain and should contain a blanket ban on certain vehicles. Individual transport should therefore remain just that: individual. And whether the vehicle of choice is called a car, motorbike or horse-drawn carriage, all citizens should be able to decide for themselves in the future as well.