On 13 and 14 October 2022, the Sino-German Legal Cooperation Programme of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH organised a Sino-German online workshop on road traffic laws, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The event was organised in cooperation with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China. On the German side, experts from the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, the Bavarian Police Administration Office and Coburg University of Applied Sciences, among others, participated.
In China, road traffic has changed significantly in recent decades. From a country with little infrastructure and traffic, China is now a country with 5.28 million kilometers of public roads, with 98.8 percent of cities and 95 percent of the population having direct access to highways. However, this change is also accompanied by problems and challenges that require continuous amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety, with other countries serving as role models in their planning. This was presented by Ms Wang Ning, Deputy Head of the Department of Criminal Law of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in her opening speech.
Mr Michael Dick from the Bavarian Police Administration Office presented the sanctioning of traffic offences in Germany in the first keynote of the event. He outlined the differences in legal consequences of committing misdemeanours and criminal offences as well as possible legal consequences of traffic violations under administrative law and the driving suitability assessment system (the so-called points system). He elaborated on the different legal consequences using the examples of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) offences and violations of cargo securement regulations. The Chinese participants were interested in details of misdemeanours, such as obstructing traffic by driving too slowly or the different blood alcohol concentration for DUI violations. The Chinese side was also interested in the modification of vehicles or the regulation of vehicles such as electric scooters or electric bicycles.
The second keynote on the first day was delivered by Professor Dr Uwe Gail, a lawyer specialised in traffic and insurance law and professor at the Coburg University of Applied Sciences, who presented on the topic of mandatory car insurance in Germany and the allocation of liability in traffic accidents. The topics of the presentation were the various forms of liability, the relationship between the tortfeasor, the injured party and the insurer, the legal framework of mandatory insurance, the allocation of liability in traffic accidents and the Verkehrsopferhilfe e.V. (association for assisting accident victims), which comes into play when the person responsible for an accident cannot be identified or is not insured. The representatives of the legislative affairs committee asked questions about the insurance premium, the exemption from liability for operational risk and details of the association for assisting accident victims.
On the second day, the event focused on the legal framework for automated and autonomous driving in Germany and road traffic licensing law. Mr Arne Zielonka, Deputy Head of the Department for Digitalisation in Mobility, Autonomous Driving and Intelligent Transport Systems at the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, gave an overview of the technical status of automated and autonomous driving and the legal regulation of these matters. He also compared the German regulations in this area with the regulations of the European Union.
Afterwards, Ms Irina Khlebtsevich, advisor at the Department for Road Traffic Law at the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport, presented on road traffic law in Germany. First, she explained the legislative powers applicable in Germany as well as the different legal foundations, namely laws and regulations. Subsequently, she presented on the registration of vehicles and the digitalisation of this process. The Chinese side was interested in details of German vehicle registration and German driving licence law, the digitalisation of administrative procedures, and issues related to data protection and technical supervision. Dr Frank Albrecht, Ministerial Counsellor and Head of the Department for Road Traffic Law at the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, participated in answering the questions.
At the end, Ms Wang Ning and Dr Marco Haase from the Sino-German Legal Cooperation Programme delivered the closing remarks for this event. Ms Wang noted that a joint exchange on road transport issues is important and that new technologies also present new challenges that need to be addressed through legal regulations. Expertise from abroad is therefore always a good reference point for the development of Chinese law in this area. Dr Haase added that road transport operates cross borders and, therefore, there should be an international exchange on this topic, whereby complex issues such as liability, sanctions or autonomous driving can be covered.