Falschfahrer, Geisterfahrer

“Wrong drivers,” “ghost drivers.” Wrong-way drivers, people who enter the wrong side of the German autobahn, proceeding against traffic. I’ve never understood how they manage this, but you hear over and over on German radio traffic warnings about someone driving the wrong direction on this-or-that autobahn. After a recent accident, ADAC (German AAA) estimated there are about two wrong-way drivers per day in Germany. It sounds like autobahn entrances have the potential to be redesigned into somewhat safer sluices. Technical solutions are already being tested: Austria has installed tire barriers at its autobahn entrances that pop the tires of vehicles going the wrong direction, though this is said to hinder ambulances rushing to accident scenes. BMW is testing alarms.

Apparently there’s more “Bourne”-type driving the wrong way down one-way roads in Germany than I knew: this ZDF heute journal report from 22 Nov 2012 shows cars with diplomatic plates doing it pretty consistently in Berlin.

Update on 02 Jan 2013: Technical recommendations include better signage on autobahns and warnings in cars about dangerous driving ahead. ADAC recommends “dass Falschfahrermeldungen unbedingt in die Navigationssystem eingespeichert werden,” that wrong-way driving messages absolutely must be stored in the on-board navigation system. It’s unclear to me whether this means the navigation system should inform drivers or report them when they’re driving the wrong direction.

(FOLSH far err,   GUY ster far err.)

Alkalikieselsäurereaktion

The “alkali-silica reaction” causing miles of road construction every summer. The source of a de facto speed limit on the autobahn, this is a materials issue wherein silica (Kieselsäure, lit. “gravel acid”) reacts with cement to form a gel bubble that pushes up to the driving surface, making it as soft as sand. The ingredients in new autobahns are said to be no longer susceptible to this but old ones are crumbling. Much research has been done over the years into ways to slow down Betonkrebs without replacing too much road. Sprays tested have included epoxy resin, boiled linseed oil and/or “hydrophobization,” according to ZDF heute journal reporting on 26 July 2012.

(Oll call ee KEE zell zoy reh ray ock tsee OHN.)

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