Elefantenrennen: That's how Germans refer to a lengthy overtaking maneuver of two trucks on the Autobahn

Literally: “elephant race” / meaning: A lengthy overtaking maneuver of two trucks

I have a somewhat strained relationship with German LKWs. Firstly, with their flat noses, they just don’t look as cool as American trucks. Secondly, they tend to block the roads with lengthy and completely out-of-place overtaking maneuvers just when I want to get home quickly because I have, well, some urgent needs.

These maneuvers, which last several minutes and stretch over many kilometers, are called Elefantenrennen in German. The word has been around at least since the 1960s, and its use in the media peaked in 2003. At that time, there were discussions about a new law to drastically tighten the penalties for this practice. Nowadays, according to road traffic regulations, if a truck overtakes with a speed difference that is too small, the driver needs to pay a fine of 80 euros.

Nevertheless, this still doesn’t hold many drivers back from pulling out to overtake, even if they are only 2 km/h faster than their elephant cousin. All without any consideration for my urgent needs.


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