Tuesday, February 10, 2015

German Teens and Scooters

There's a German phonenom that I've come to notice about German teens and scooters.

When you get to around fourteen years old in Germany.....you can go and take a local (usually run by the school your kid goes to or the community itself) class, take a test, and get a 25-kph scooter license.

What usually transpires next is that you the parent....goes out and helps the kid buy a used or new scooter, which is geared to much higher speeds (even 100 kph).  The mechanic will be told by the parent to take off a piece to the gearing system....thus limiting the bike to a max speed of 2, 5-kph.

At sixteen, you can take the next phase of training, and a test....to upgrade. Once certified by the trainer, you go back to the mechanic....hand him the missing piece....he installs it into the gearing system, and you get the higher speeds.

What typically happens here in Germany, after the kid gets the first license (the 25-kph limit)......only after a week or two....he's discovered that this speed really won't cut it.  It's too slow.

So the kid will hunt around the garage or basement, until he finds this missing piece.  He goes to some kid in the neighborhood who has messed around with scooters and can do the minor modification in ten minutes.  The kid now has full speed.  Yes, ILLEGAL if you were wondering about this.

There's then three scenarios that play out.  One, the kid wrecks the scooter on some road or street with the higher speeds.  Two, the kid accidentally makes it through two years and tests....getting the new license and life goes on.  Three, the kid gets noted by the cops, with his scooter confiscated until a court hearing, and likely no license opportunity for five years (even the car license).

I bring this up.....because here in the state of Hessen over the weekend.....we had two fifteen year-old speed demons on scooters who got the interest of the cops.  Cops gave chase....going over eight kilometers in this little chase, at speeds of 100 kph or more (as they cops noted).  One kid finally took a curve at too high of speed and lost control of the scooter.  Cops catch him, but his friend makes it away.

What the cops say is that the kid is going to get a court appearance and face two charges.  It's virtually zero chance of avoiding any court action or talking his way out of a conviction.  No license opportunity for several years?  Very likely.  A fine?  Very likely, as well.

How often does this occur?  Cops won't say much.  I usually note at least once a year....some five-minute news piece by the local networks which talk to this subject.  Cops will run some summer test of a village.....a day long....just cruising around and watching for scooter traffic on a Saturday afternoon.  They can bust a dozen kids easily.

I noted this past summer where the news folks covered a school visit.....where the cops noted a dozen scooters in the school parking lot....so they walked over and demanded each owner come out of the school and put their scooter onto a device which measured maximum speed.  Half the kids failed.  Each got a court summons and ticket.  Luckily, they weren't caught speeding....but the odds are some type of loss of their scooter for some period of time.

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