62nd Highway Patrol (MP)
 Germany      1948 - 1958

Stories of the Highway Patrol


Where Did The Autobahn Go?

by Edward F. Smith






Late one evening in the fall of the year, I received a call of an accident near the Kaiserslautem Autobahn.  I arrived on the scene and quickly noticed that an automobile had run off the road, down an embankment and overturned.  It appeared to be only one vehicle involved.  The German Land Police were on the scene.  I parked my patrol vehicle and started in the direction of the overturned vehicle.  I met one of the German officer [Schmidt] returning from the overturned vehicle.  Schmidt was laughing and said that it was a German single vehicle accident and no assistance was needed.


Schmidt continued laughing the whole time.  l ask Schmidt why he was laughing so hard.  He stated that it was the accident and proceeded to tell me the following story.  In order for the story to be fully understood, I feel that I must refresh your memory a bit about the signs on the autobahn.  I am sure that most of you remember that there are warning signs which lets one know just how far it is to the exit [500 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, 100 meters and sometimes 50 meters].  Schmidt proceeded to tell me that this elderly German couple was traveling North and wanted to turn onto the Kaiserslautem autobahn.  When they saw the first sign [500 meters], the manís wife said, turn here.  The husband said no and was trying to explain.  By this time the second sign [300 meters] appeared and the wife quickly said turn here .... turn here!  At this time the husband became frustrated with his wife and again tried to explain.  Now, the third sign appeared [200 meters], the wife really got excited and grabbed the steering wheel in an effort to turn the vehicle to the right.  It was at this time that the vehicle went over the embankment, turned over and came to rest in an open field.  Neither of the two were injured.  They were still arguing when the German police arrived.


This occurred in the fall of 1956, at a time when there was not a lot of vehicle, or traffic on the autobahn.  At the time I think that it took the average German about 3 months of traffic school before they could get their license.  During this period the driver was taught to look only approximately 50 meters in front of their vehicle, little wonder that there was so many rear end collisions.  Drivers education was not the best in those early years.



This story previously appeared in Volume # 3, Issue # 5, Nov - Dec 2000 of "THE WHITE MICE" .



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