From June 1: New rules for learner drivers

Over the past two years, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has reported 15 percent fewer driving tests and up to 21 percent fewer driving theory tests in Saxony. Andreas Grünewald from the Association of Driving Instructors now sees a trend reversal. In an interview, the 57-year-old talks about the causes, cost increases and innovations for driving applicants.

Andreas Grünewald has been the president of the state association of driving instructors in Saxony since 2011. The 57-year-old runs a driving school in Leipzig.
© Schlosshotel Kremmen

Mr. Grünewald, can the negative exams trend that has continued since 2020 be attributed to Corona, or are there other reasons?

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No, just Corona. During the blockade, the technical test centers could not function. We are now seeing significant growth in all areas.

What about waiting times?

This varies a lot from region to region. That is why it is difficult to speak for the whole of Saxony here. If you call a driving instructor in a more rural area, they may say you can get started soon. On the other hand, in cities such as Leipzig and Dresden, the waiting time can be several months. There are also certain waiting times for exam dates as experts are also needed and they keep putting off the corona wave. There are other side effects as well.

Which?

Driver training and examinations have been revolutionized in recent years. These are, on the one hand, digitization and newly created driving task catalogs, and on the other hand, an extension of the test period. The testing of driver assistance systems is completely new – a requirement of the new traffic light government.

when does it start

From June 1, on vehicles equipped with these new assistance systems. If they are not installed, the Technical Testing Center logically does not check them either. Contrary to what the CSU-led Transport Minister predicted in December, he no longer has to drive school cars to have the technology now.

How does the testing of these new systems work in practice? Does the examined person really have to activate the autobahn and adaptive cruise control?

We recently asked this specific question to Dekra managers. The answer was, “Let’s see.” User instructions are currently being created for the sake of clarity. We, as an association, train properly. The so-called ACC also prevents falling below the distance, which is beneficial for the test sample. Conversely, the use of systems has also been banned recently.

The Corona crisis caused a significant decrease in the number of theoretical and practical tests in Saxon driving schools.  In 2022, it looks like there will be a trend reversal.

The Corona crisis caused a significant decrease in the number of theoretical and practical tests in Saxon driving schools. In 2022, it looks like there will be a trend reversal.
© Graphics SZ

In what scenario?

For example, with the parking assistant when the examiner deems that he needs to check the student’s competence in parking tasks.

Can the examiner park the learner driver manually on the one hand and with the assistance system on the other?

I agree. However, Dekra managers assured us that there would be no exaggerated demands from technically experienced experts. We were signaled that we would first like to see how the topic starts on June 1.

How many Saxon driving schools are now training on electric cars?

I cannot exchange the number. Of course, there is an upward trend. Learning is also easier on such cars. Usually, an e-car is purchased in addition to a fleet of internal combustion engines. I do not know any driving instructors in Saxony who train solely on electric cars as a sole proprietorship. Basically, many driving schools are open to this topic. Which I find very commendable as the average age of driving instructors is not U30 but rather Ü50 years.

When we talk about new cars, we are dealing with money, fuel prices and how this trend affects the cost of obtaining a driver’s license.

you increase them. But here too it has to be said: the new pricing structure is not primarily about Corona and fuel prices, but other aspects such as the mandatory introduction of driver assistance systems, higher fees for longer exam times and finally, but not at least the new training structure based on assignment catalogs driving and new exam guidelines.

How much is a driving license now?

You should expect to pay around 3,000 euros on average.

According to the current KBA data, the pass rate in Saxony has increased both in theory and in practice.

We consider it our success. As we were expecting a much lower rate due to various factors such as the koruna and longer exam times.

Teaching material since the April 2020 amendment to the StVO: Drivers must maintain a lateral distance of at least 1.50 meters when overtaking cyclists or pedestrians in built-up areas.

Teaching material since the April 2020 amendment to the StVO: Drivers must maintain a lateral distance of at least 1.50 meters when overtaking cyclists or pedestrians in built-up areas.
© Matthias Rietschel

How long does the training take on average?

You have to plan for half a year. Because there are other delaying factors now, such as the sometimes lengthy application to the driving license authorities. Then potential customers should not assume that they will be served until after 4:00 p.m. during driving lessons. Instead, if they are not already students, they should make offers to the driving instructor for the morning hours. You can also take time off for special driving lessons. 20 years ago, a driving instructor often started his working day after 4 p.m. and drove until midnight. It has changed. Today we say: “Of course you can drive – but also in the morning if necessary.” We want to make the public understand that you don’t get a driving license “by the way”. Finally, learning drivers are also benefiting from this trend.

From 2020, drivers with the so-called are allowed to drive light motorcycles after a minimum of ten hours of driving time with the B196 qualification and without a separate examination. According to KBA, the demand for this option is among the lowest in Saxony. Why?

Who is applying for this permit? Primarily middle-aged drivers who still want to drive a 125 but can’t pass the ramp test. I think the answer is unequivocal that Saxony is a real motorcycle country. Applicants do not want to drive automatic scooters, they want to drive real motorcycles. For this you need A1 training and a subsequent advanced test.

How much does it cost?

If we assume that there are two vehicles tied here – two motorbikes or a car and a motorcycle, this is a sum which, depending on previous experience, may be higher than the cost of a driving license.

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