Business Week‘s Frankfurt bureau chief decided to get a German driver’s license after a mere 11 years in the country.
How Germany Can Drive You Crazy
I’ve had a New York motorist’s license for 30 years. So why did I need to endure months of driver’s ed again and a tortuous bureaucracy?
Not long after I began driving lessons, my instructor had a revelation. “You can already drive,” he said, exhaling the smoke of yet another cigarette as we puttered along in a Volkswagen Golf equipped with an extra brake on the passenger side. No kidding, I thought. I’ve had a U.S. driver’s license for more than 30 years.
So why, 11 years after moving to Germany, was I starting the same driver’s training program as a German teenager, one that involves 40-plus hours of car and classroom instruction and costs $1,200? The answer reveals one of the less attractive aspects of German society. Not the side that’s fun-loving and generous, but the side that’s pathologically risk-averse and mindlessly bureaucratic, bent on making everything — putting up a building, starting a new business, buying a house — so difficult that nothing happens. It’s one of the small ways the nation sabotages its own economy.
Indeed. (Are other EU countries this ridiculous?)