You know how the German language has words for concepts that we didn’t know we needed in the United Kingdom? Words like schadenfreude, kindergarten, rucksack and doppelgänger?
And then we realised how they were such useful ideas, but we just couldn’t be arsed to invent our own word and so adopted the Deutsch one instead?
Well, listening to the radio here the other day, I was reminded of another word, one that Britain has never needed to adopt because, although German engineering is respected the world over, they don’t know how to build roads safely. Hear me out.
Welcome to the concept of the “geisterfahrer” or “ghost driver” if translated literally. This is not Casper behind the wheel but a pillock driving the wrong way up a motorway. Given how fast the autobahns are here, you appreciate just how bad an idea this is.
On a forum about Germany I read one comment that said, in the space of two hours the other day, he’d heard four separate reports of geisterfahrer on four different German motorways. That’s a whole lot of pillocks.
And yet it almost never happens in the UK. Why not? I believe it all comes down to the road junctions that access the motorways. In Britain you’d have to make an awkward 135° turn on a roundabout to access the motorway the wrong way. In Germany, and Austria too where it’s a popular hobby, the roads meet the junctions at 90°, meaning it’s easier to go wrong.
But there’s probably another reason. It’s easier to drive the wrong way on a quiet motorway, like the ones I experienced around Graz, but more difficult when the traffic is already queued up as it is in Britain. If you join a jam and find yourself staring through your windscreen into the eyes of another driver facing you, you’d quickly realise your mistake.