Learner drivers in Germany are trained in accordance with the learner driver-training ordinance of 1977, most recently amended on the 13.08.2004. The learner driver-training ordinance has legislative power and describes the objective, content, type and extent of the training as well as the general training principles. The pedagogical layout of the theoretical and practical training are the focal point. The training consists of the theoretical and practical training, both training bocks must be applied in a coordinated manner.
The training objective is to turn the driver into a safe, responsible and environmentally conscious traffic prepare the driver for the driving examination. Additionally, the training should mediate a traffic behaviour that include
competence and skills to control the vehicle under difficult traffic situations,
knowledge, comprehension and application of the traffic regulations,
competence and skills to perceive and control dangerous situations including their avoidance and defence,
knowledge of the consequences of driving mistakes and a realistic self-assessment,
preparedness and ability to behave in a considerate manner and be aware of the impact of emotions whilst driving and
responsibility for life and health, environment and property.
The general training principles take into account the guiding principles from the known to the unknown or from easy to difficult. The scholars are to be motivated to ask questions and participate in discussions. Instead of the traditional frontal instruction, modern methods (e.g. moderation, group discussions, role play or small group exercises) should be applied.
The driving instructor is obliged to only conclude the theoretical and practical training once the learner river has completed the entire training prescribed by law and the driving instructor is convinced that he has attained the training goals and, therefore, the required know-how and abilities to safely control a motor vehicle.
The theoretical training orientates itself around a framework containing the compulsory educational content for the various drivers license classes. Apart from the traffic regulations, the traffic behaviour, recognition of and defence against dangers, energy-saving driving behaviour and environmental awareness are the focal point of the training. Apart from the identical basic training for all classes, specific know-how for individual classes is to be mediated.
Each driving school is obliged to set up an own training program, taking into account the set framework, and make it available to the scholars an its premises. The training program is to be subdivided into double lessons of 90 minutes each. The theoretical training orientates itself around this schedule and may not exceed two double lessons per day, i.e. 180 minutes. The filling in of questionnaires, for example in tests, is not seen as part of a lesson and may not, therefore, be included in the calculation of the minimum times for the theoretical training. The minimum duration of the theoretical training is prescribed for the individual classes, e.g. 14 double lessons of 90 minutes each are required for class B.
the basic training,
the special training drivers,
in depth exercises and exam preparation.
The basic training makes up the biggest part of the practical training. The local and temporal factors making of the basic training is mostly up to the training instructor himself. As a rule, the basic training starts a non-public roads or roads with little traffic. In terms of time, there are no demands. However, the special training drivers may only be carried out after completion of the basic training in the case of classes A and B, at least if these licenses are being applied for the first time, or towards the and of the practical training for the other classes.
The special training drivers are an important supplement; they help the learner driver to familiarize himself with the specific traffic requirements outside of towns and in the dark. Minimum durations are prescribed for these special training drives.
After the basic training, the obligatory driving lessons must be taken. For Class B, this includes:
Training on federal highways or country roads (overland training, with one drive with a duration of at least two lessons comprising 45 minutes each)
Training on freeways or motor roads (with one drive with a duration of at least two lessons comprising 45 minutes each)
Training under twilight conditions or darkness (in addition to the drives 1 and 2, at least half of these an freeways, federal highways or country roads, lesson of 45 minutes each)
total: 12 driving lessons
Along with the basic training, the Class B learner drivers take an average of 33 driving lessons before their exam, according to the latest statistics from March 2005.
After completion of the special training drives, the so-called maturity and test phase provides in depth exercises and exam preparation. The driving instructor may only complete the training once he is convinced that the learner driver has all the abilities and know-how required to pass the driving examination. It is not the only objective of the learner driver training to pass on the know-how and abilities to control a motor vehicle, but also to anchor a positive attitude required for a trouble free cooperation with other road traffic participants and avoidance of accident risks, which is just as important as the technical driving ability. In the training, the learner driver is made aware of the fact that he has a high degree of responsibility towards other people and the environment.
The driving instructors are obliged to document the progression of the theoretical and practical training in its entirety, ensuring that the training status and learning progress can be viewed by the learner driver at all tines. Furthermore, the driving schools are obliged to keep precise records of the extent of theoretical and practical training each learner driver has received. These documents must be presented to the authorities in the driving school inspection, which takes place every two years.
The continuous driving training improvements in Germany have significantly contributed to the improved traffic safety, as can be seen from the continuous reduction in the number of deaths on the road since 1970, the year with the catastrophic amount of 21.000 deaths throughout Germany. The special accident risk of beginner drivers can, however, not be fully excluded even if the driving training were as good as it could possibly be. It is restrained by the probational driverís license, which was introduced in 1986 and the so-called second phase, a voluntary training seminar for beginner drivers. A further measure for reducing the risk of beginner drivers is the so-called accompanied driving from the age of 17, which received a legal basis in 2005. It permits 17-year-old persons to drive a motor car in accompaniment of an adult of at least 30 years holding a valid driverís license, once the driving school training was completed in full and the theoretical and practical driving examination was passed.
The driving examination consists of a theoretical and a practical part. An officially accredited expert or examiner for the motor vehicle traffic of the T‹V (MOT) or DEKRA is responsible for both parts of the exam. Examinations that were not passed can be repeated. The practical exam may only ensue once the theoretical part has been passed.
In the theoretical exam, a questionnaire is used (class B: 30 question, mainly multiple choice) to check the required knowledge of the learner driver. The exam is passed if the error limit prescribed in the examination guideline is nor exceeded. The theoretical exam language is principally German. Foreign citizens whose German language skills are not sufficient can also be tested in their language. In some of the federal states the exam must be taken on a PC.
The practical exam consists of a test drive including basic driving tasks. The basic driving tasks described in the examination guideline (handling and manoeuvring tasks) should show that the learner driver can safely operate the vehicle and has the driving skills to control it. The test drive should especially show that the learner driver has the ability to safely control the vehicle and can adapt his driving style to the respective traffic conditions. The test drive takes place in the local urban area as well as on country roads and freeways or similar roads. The practical exam is passed once the basic driving tasks have been carried out without mistakes and the test drive was without any major hitches or accumulation of other mistakes. The duration of the class B test driver is at least 45 minutes. 5-10 minutes of this time is spent on the basic driving tasks (manoeuvring, parking), approx. 15 minutes on driving in the urban area, the rest of the time is spend on the open road.