by Bogdan Popa, 21 February 2020
Speed camera apps, including the Google-owned Waze, have long been banned in Germany, but a loophole in the text of the law allowed drivers to continue to use them behind the wheel just fine.
The German Federal Council has adopted a series of amendments to the StVO, Germany’s road traffic regulations, on February 14, including a change that makes it clearer speed camera apps are not allowed behind the wheel. And yet, another loophole has already been discovered.
In the original version, the regulations banned the use of devices created to reveal traffic monitoring systems, which technically, also includes speed camera apps. But because smartphones themselves aren’t necessarily built with this purpose in mind, having a mobile device running an app on the car’s dashboard wasn’t specifically forbidden.
The new regulations, however, also cover smartphones and speed camera apps, as they state the device which is used for traffic monitoring system alerts doesn’t have to be specifically built for this purpose, but for “other uses” as well. In other words, pretty much any app that can warn of a speed camera is now forbidden, no matter if it runs on a phone, a tablet, or a GPS navigation system.
But as German site iTopNews noticed, the updated traffic laws only refers to someone who drives a vehicle. So in theory, a passenger of the car can still use a speed camera app like Waze just fine. The Google-owned traffic navigation app comes with both visual and audio alerts on a series of reports, including speed cameras, so technically, you can still use it without having the phone on the car’s dashboard.
It goes without saying this loophole once again places speed camera apps in a gray area, although given the fines, you should really avoid using such apps in a car.
According to the 2020 amendments to the StVO, violating the traffic laws and using speed camera apps inside a car could result in a fine of up to €75 in Germany.