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Who should control diesel driving bans in cities - and how?

Diesel driving bans in cities
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2 019 will go down in history as the year of the diesel lockouts. In Hamburg, certain road sections have been taboo for older diesels for several months, and at the turn of the year Stuttgart closed its entire environmental zone to diesel engines up to and including Euro 4. Courts have also ordered driving bans for Berlin, Frankfurt /Main, Mainz, Cologne, Bonn, Essen and Gelsenkirchen, all of which should come into force during the course of the year. Further decisions of this kind are likely to follow.

Police fear a control effort

The driving bans bring changes and restrictions not only for diesel drivers, but also for those authorities responsible for traffic monitoring are responsible. It is the job of the police and the public order office to ensure that only those diesel cars drive into city centers that meet the relevant emission standards. There is a risk of a show of strength and control that the authorities are not ready to cope with without help: “Such controls are at the very end of our priority list. We don't have hundreds in the basement just waiting for new tasks, ”said Rainer Wendt, the head of the German Police Union, in February 2018 to Welt am Sonntag. At that time, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig cleared the way for diesel driving bans.

To monitor the driving ban zones, other options are necessary. After all, you can hardly tell from the outside of a car whether it is a diesel - let alone which emissions standard it meets. Now the grand coalition in Berlin has agreed on a model: The license plates of vehicles are to be checked using mobile devices and compared with the vehicle register. The data collected in this way may only be used for the purpose of driving ban control and must be deleted after two weeks at the latest. This should ensure the necessary data protection. The regulation is to be passed in the Bundestag on Thursday (March 14th, 2019).

No video monitoring of driving bans

With this regulation, the monitoring of driving bans with permanently installed devices or video monitoring is off the table . This is exactly what the original government concept was all about. Specifically, a picture of the vehicle including the driver, the license plate and the place and time of the recording should be saved. This information would be compared with the data in the central vehicle register. This way, the authorities would know when which car entered the no-drive zone - and whether it was even allowed to do so.

The one who worked out for itThe draft amendment to the Road Traffic Act caused severe criticism. On the one hand from the municipalities, who first acquire the necessary technology and have to invest a lot of money for it. On the other hand, there were major data protection concerns. As an example, Baden-Württemberg's Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) noted that the police were not allowed to use toll data when investigating serious crimes, but that mass surveillance is now being sought to ensure compliance with driving bans. Oliver Krischer, vice-leader of the Greens, feared that driving bans would be used as a pretext for mass surveillance in city centers. The police also spoke out against this model.

Previous method: Control by vehicle registration

The current examples in Hamburg and Germany show that efficient regulation is required to monitor diesel driving bans Stuttgart. In the Hanseatic city, the authorities are currently still using the most complex method: checking the vehicle documents. Means: stop the car, take a look at the registration certificate part I (colloquial: vehicle registration) and check the 'emission class relevant for the EC type approval' indicated in line V.9. This provides information about a car's emissions standard. The Hamburg police now look more closely at this information during normal traffic checks and are increasingly carrying out random checks on older cars. In addition, large-scale controls take place again and again.

The police in Stuttgart, where a diesel driving ban has been in effect since January, also usually carries out their checks as part of normal traffic controls. On top of that when it comes to other traffic offenses. If, for example, a wrongdoer is caught and it is determined that the car should not have driven into the prohibited zone, the vehicle owner will face two fines. But it is also clear: such controls are very permeable, only a fraction of the diesel offenders should be caught in this way.

Demanded again and again: blue sticker

To relieve the authorities, should so a simplified control method can be found. The idea that has been discussed the longest in this regard is the blue badge. In other words, a sticker that is attached to the windshield in addition to the particulate matter sticker in order to identify diesel and other clean cars classified according to Euro 6 at a glance. Many politicians, especially the Greens, are vehemently calling for it to be introduced. Especially Baden-Württemberg's Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann is a great advocate of this solution. The German Association of Cities also advocates the sticker.

However, the way for the blue sticker would have to be cleared by federal politics. But she resisted from the start. When the ministers Andreas Scheuer (CSU, Transport) and Svenja Schulze (SPD, Environment) came up with the “Concept for clean air and safeguarding individual mobilityin our cities ”, they said:“ Blue plaques are off the table. ”Scheuer declared“ the unspeakable discussion ”with his concept at the time over. So this has now been adjusted. It is still questionable whether this will actually happen. The main concern is the many exceptions that are difficult to capture and review within two weeks.

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