Driving in Germany

The Autobahn. It’s the first thing most people think of when Germany and roads are brought into the same sentence. These highways with no speed limits, or rather, no speed regulations in certain zones. For people who are into fast driving, this is a dream come true. For others who like to know exactly how fast to go, and ensure that they stay a few notches under the speed limit, this may sound like your worst nightmare.  However, the Autobahn is great for more reasons than one. For those who like to push the limits a little, and go faster than they’d be able to in their native countries, the Autobahn allows them to safely enjoy accelerated driving. The Autobahn does have rules. It’s not just a free for all zone where people drive as they please, some slow, some fast causing more chaos than manageable.

The rules of the Autobahn:

  • Truck drivers and those driving cars with a hanger attached are not allowed to go as fast as they want.
  • The soft shoulder is only for emergencies. If you are caught pulling off for an illegitimate reason, you can be fined.
  • There is no overtaking on the right. In the left lane, and only the left lane is designated to pass.
  • There is a penalty for not leaving the left lane when the car behind you is driving at a faster speed.
  • A safe distance needs to be left between your car and the car in front.
  • Dangerous overtaking is illegal.

Most people in Germany drive smaller cars. This takes the burden off trying to maneuver an SUV into the tight parking spots that are increasingly popular in the city. Another thing to take note of is the small roads, especially in comparison to roads in the United States. Two lane roads often turn into one lane roads due to parked cars. And yes, it is legal in some streets for cars to park on the side. This is another advantage of having a smaller car, you’ll be able to pass more easily, without having to worry about smashing into a rear view mirror or two on your way around.

The roads in Germany are generally well maintained and allow for a smooth, safe drive from one destination to the next.

Things you need to know about driving in Germany:

  • You are allowed to drive with your American license for six months after your arrival date.
  • The majority of Germans drive manual rather than automatic.
  • You must have, at all times,  a first aid kit in your car as well as a reflective triangle.
  • Drinking and bike riding may cause you to lose your driver’s license.
  • You are required, by law, to help anyone who may have been injured in an accident. Leaving the scene, and the injured person alone, without calling for help is punishable.

Enjoy the German roads and remember, fahr vorsichtig, drive safely. 


Saskia Petz

Tanja Traut

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