Word of the Week: Geisterfahrer

Jul 18, 2014

Geisterfahrer Enlarge image (© dpa) Driving on the wrong side of the road is dangerous, and can even be deadly. In German, drivers who are going in the wrong direction are called Geisterfahrer, which means "ghost drivers."

There is no English equivalent of the word Geisterfahrer, but it can describe an incompetent person who mistakenly went the wrong way, or a risky driver who may have done so on purpose. In many cases, it is simply a dangerous mistake. One-way street signs and do-not-enter signs are posted across Germany to stop "ghost drivers", but they are not always effective: throughout Germany, there are about five recorded instances of Geisterfahrer each day (which comes out to approximately 1,800 a year), according to FOCUS Online. In 2012, there were 1,914 recorded Geisterfahrer in Germany.

Some highways have more "ghost drivers" than others, and the German government has tried to tackle this problem by increasing its number of street signs in recent years. In some areas, the size of these signs has also been increased.

Geisterfahrer Enlarge image (© dpa) In an official sense, people who drive on the wrong side of the road are called Falschfahrer ("wrong drivers") -- Geisterfahrer is a more colloquial term used in conversation. But regardless of how funny the word may sound, the dangers are real: make sure you don't take on the streets as a "ghost driver", or you might seriously end up as a ghost.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info

Word of the Week Dictionary

Missed a Word of the Week? Want to consult the growing Word of the Week dictionary? We have them listed from A to Z!