Coming soon to German cities: Driving bans?

Several city halls in Germany are on edge. “I would be surprised if we got away without driving bans,” says Helmut Dedy, senior director of the Association of German Cities. The chances are significant, he says, that the Federal Administrative Court will authorize such measures.

For two years, representatives from German municipalities have been demanding the introduction of a blue environmental sticker that would denote vehicles with clean diesel engines — cars that would then be exempted from driving bans. Dedy is imploring Germany’s new government, once it is formed, to finally introduce the stickers. Transportation policymakers in Berlin have avoided the stickers “like the devil does holy water,” he complains. “It’s the product of a pronounced deference to the automobile industry.”

Even though limits were drastically exceeded, politicians at the federal, state and municipal levels did next to nothing. Yet everyone knew where most of the blame lay: With diesel cars, more and more of which were traveling the roads of Germany cities. And most of these models were equipped with software to either curb or completely switch off emissions filtering systems in many driving situations.