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Q: I hear you can be fined in Germany for tapping your finger to your head if you’re mad at another driver. Really? What’s up with that?

A: In Germany, tapping your forefinger to your brow is called the “vogel zeigen,” and quite literally means, “You’re crazy!” But there’s a bit more to it than that. Think of it this way: it’s the Germany equivalent of the “giving someone the bird,” or flipping them off. And you can end up with a ticket or a stiff fine if the person on the other end of your gesture takes offense.

According to German media reports, the gesture can net you a fine of up to 300 euro and between three and five points against your license.

And here’s another common action on the road that can get you fined. Even though you see people do it all the time (or have had it done to you several times), it is technically illegal for a driver to flash their high beams at the car in front of them. This is traditionally meant as “I want to pass you, so move over,” but it could cost you a traffic fine.

The preferred, and legal, method to signal the same message is to put on your left blinker. The driver ahead of you should get out of the way. Oh, and never, ever pass anyone on the right — even if they’re not getting out of your way. But that’s a whole other story …

Got a question about goings-on Europe? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil

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