Driving restrictions

Driving restrictions
Image: SenUVK

Driving restrictions are prevalent in public debate. Therefore, we would like to place this measure in an overall context and explain the background.

Why are there driving restrictions and what effects do they have?

The air in Berlin is too badly polluted with the toxic irritating gas nitrogen dioxide. As this violates EU law, the administrative court ordered in a final ruling in October 2018, upon an action of the Deutsche Umwelthilfe, that, among other things, driving prohibitions were to be introduced if other means would not contribute sufficiently to improving air quality.

On average, these driving prohibitions reduce the NO2 value by three micrograms. Some cases achieve much higher improvements. The measure considerably helps improve air quality along the indicated routes.

Who is affected by driving restrictions and from when onwards will they apply?

The driving restrictions are to apply to diesel vehicles (passenger cars and trucks) with pollutant category Euro 5 or worse from July 2019 onwards. Petrol vehicles and diesel vehicles with hazardous substance category Euro 6 are not affected.

What exceptions are there, and who is affected?

There are no exceptions, but there is a resident rule: anyone who has to enter the affected street section for justified professional or private reasons is exempt from the restriction. This includes residents and their visitors, as well as crafts operations, customers of stores and patients of medical practices. Retrofitted vehicles are exempt as well.

How is the inspection performed?

The police will perform random-sample inspections. The vehicle registration document shows whether the vehicle is subject to the restriction. If the driving restriction is not observed, a fine of up to EUR 75.00 threatens.

What is the scope of the driving restrictions?

The court order refers to 15 street sections, totalling 1.4 kilometres. In order to avoid a quilt-like appearance, the sections are to be combined and expanded to encompass 2.4 kilometres. In relation to the total Berlin street grid of about 6,400 kilometres, the driving restriction therefore affects about 0.04 percent of the total route.