Driving in germany

germany united kingdom

Germany is the birthplace of the automobile and its inventor, carl benz. germany is still one of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers u. A. With luxury car brands such as mercedes-benz, BMW and porsche. The freeway network is known worldwide for its stretches without speed limits. This, along with the high density and generally good condition of the road infrastructure, makes driving in germany an enjoyable, if somewhat expensive, endeavor. Inside cities, however, the picture changes: it’s usually exhausting to drive in a city with half a million inhabitants or more. Many city centers and old towns are also traffic-calmed.

Table of Contents

Background [ edit]

Germans have a passion for cars. This is also true for those who don’t own a car themselves, or even those who speak out against the often car-centric German transportation policy. a number of comedians and doctors have already observed that the average german man takes better care of his car than of his own physical health. While many Germans tend to see their cars as useful objects, there is a minority who see them as objects of passion, pleasure and even love. And they’re well organized: the ADAC is the world’s second-largest auto lobby group – behind its U.S. counterpart, the american automobile association. Germans also tend to be prejudiced, z. B., that foreigners – especially from southern or eastern countries – tend to drive inappropriately and are therefore more reluctant to drive in germany, especially if it is their first day in the country.

just because there are stretches of highway where you have to drive 200 km/h can, that doesn’t mean must. So is z. B. The maximum speed for trucks, which usually drive only in the right lane, is limited to 80 km/h. While many cities tried to become as "car-friendly" as possible, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, local opposition groups and the preservation of architectural heritage are now gaining ground – unlike z. B. In the USA – the upper hand against the car lobby. The "car-friendly" developments in some cities are increasingly seen as past mistakes to be ashamed of, and are being reversed. Streetcars are a common sight in many cities, and although they increasingly do not travel on the road, in cities like dresden they should be kept in sight as they will inevitably win in a collision.

On sundays and public holidays, trucks with a total weight of more than 7.5 t or trucks with trailers, regardless of weight, may not be driven between midnight and 22.00 o’clock driving. However, there are numerous exceptions to this rule, such as the following. B. For trucks carrying perishable products. In practice, therefore, there are many trucks on the roads on Sundays as well.

Car rental and carpooling [ edit ]

There are car rental facilities at all german airports, and the well-known car rental companies are also present there. however, it may well be cheaper to rent the car in the city, as there may be additional charges when renting at the airport.

rental cars and carpooling services are available in most cities, even one-way rentals (within germany) are possible with the larger chains without additional fees. Rental cars in germany are usually equipped with a manual gearbox, if you want to rent a car with automatic gearbox instead, you should mention this explicitly beforehand (important to know for drivers who are only allowed to drive automatic).

Some car rental companies prohibit travel to eastern european countries (e.g.B. Poland and the Czech Republic). If you want to visit, besides germany, one of these countries by rental car, it makes sense to rent the car there, because trips to germany represent from there i.D.R. No problem there.

Carpooling is another and often the cheapest way to get around by car (avoiding car trips also saves the environment), it is usually offered on appropriate sites on the Internet, or. Can also be searched there. The most popular sites are carpool and better ride, where you can also enter your own offers.

a good comparison of different means of transport can be found here, another well known site is blablacar .

traffic rules [ edit ]

Driving in germany

foreign driving licenses are accepted for a period of 6 – 12 months, u.U. However, a translation may be required. anyone who wants to drive in germany beyond this time period needs a german driver’s license. This does not apply to EU driving licenses.

Violations of traffic rules are almost always punished (and in germany you should not try to escape this by paying the policeman directly). In the case of more serious offenses, you receive so-called "points" which are assigned to your driver’s license. If eight points are reached, the driver’s license can be confiscated. These rules are not applied to foreign drivers’ licenses, but the penalties for traffic violations can be significantly higher here. More serious violations can then lead to a driving ban of several months (in addition to a fine). Since the authority responsible for the driving suitability register has its headquarters in flensburg, it is also colloquially referred to as having "points in flensburg".

  • Traffic lights/light signal systemsat intersections, traffic lights often regulate the flow of traffic, the structure is as follows: traffic lights are placed in front of the intersection just behind the stop line. traffic lights without an arrow refer to all directions of travel; however, this does not apply if certain directions of travel are signaled by an extra traffic light with an arrow in the corresponding direction.
  • cell phoneThe use of cell phones during the journey is forbidden, unless it is used with a hands-free system. This also applies when stopping at a red light, etc.. It does not matter if the phone is used to make a call or just to read the clock: as soon as it is picked up, it is an offense. Even the use of navigation software on a smartphone is not allowed, unless the phone is mounted in the car or held by a passenger. The police is very strict in these matters. to use a cell phone legally in a car, the engine must be switched off or the car must be permanently parked, d. H. Even just stopping at the side of the road will result in a fine.
  • Bicyclists and road markings: normal road markings are white. Yellow lane markings cancel out and replace existing white markings. In case of sidewalks, watch out for bicyclists. Sometimes cyclists are allowed to ride in the "wrong direction" on one-way streets, so you can expect cyclists to come towards you and you may have to stop in narrow places to let them pass. If turning, priority must be given to cyclists. In the case of "bicycle lanes", entry by motor vehicles is prohibited unless explicitly permitted.
  • crosswalk / crosswalk: stopping at "crosswalks" is obligatory when it is evident that pedestrians want to cross. Accordingly, almost all german drivers stop, which is why many pedestrians cross directly and do not pay attention to whether vehicles actually stop as well. Failure to stop may result in a fine of €80 and one point.
  • PoliceThe police will display luminous signs with the words "police stop" or "please follow, when giving instructions. there will also be an audible "yelp" signal submitted. In this case, remain calm and friendly. When asked to stop, the driver’s license and vehicle documents must be handed over (in the case of rented cars, a copy of the rental contract must be included). In most cases, that’s all that happens, and as long as the traffic signs and speed limits are obeyed, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be stopped at all. Generally, police stop vehicles by passing the vehicle and then bringing it to a stop on the shoulder or sidewalk. However, if a police car is behind a motorist on a busy road with oncoming traffic, it can also use blue lights and no siren to call for a stop. Especially on the highway, the police are less visible than in other countries because they often patrol in civilian vehicles.
  • Alcoholthe police routinely check drivers for alcohol; checks are particularly intensive on national holidays or near major events where alcohol may be consumed. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.05% (0.5‰ ). Even below this limit, heavy fines are to be expected if drivers fail to yield the right of way unfit to drive appear or are involved in an accident (even if they are not at fault). For people under 21 years of age and for people who have held their driver’s license for less than two years, the limit is zero. If the driver’s license has been recently renewed, a copy of the previous license should be carried if possible.
  • Environmental zonesall cars – and yes, this also applies to electric cars – that enter an "environmental zone" require a "fine dust sticker" indicating their pollutant class. The stickers are available in three colors: green, yellow and red. signs marking the beginning of pollution-free zones (usually the central parts of a city) indicate the colors that are allowed into the zone. When renting a car, make sure that it has a fine dust sticker. Who travels with their own car, receives badge for a small fee at:
  • Vehicle registration offices
  • Technical inspection organizations, such as the TuV (also possible online, for example TuV nord), GTu or dekra
  • Many garages
  • Spikes are strictly forbidden throughout germany, with the exception of a 15 km zone along the austrian border and the shortcut via the B21 between the austrian towns of salzburg and lofer.
  • Turning at an intersectionIn general, when turning, priority must be given to pedestrians or cyclists crossing the road into which the turn is to be made. this is especially true if a bike lane is marked to the right of one’s own lane; even in this case, cyclists have priority.
  • Right of wayif there are no other markings at an intersection, the vehicle/cyclist coming from the right has the right of way ("right before left")-rule).

Traffic accidents [ edit ]

Driving in germany

If you are involved in an accident, immediately stop where it happened (except if you’re on a freeway or some other multilane road). Carefully get out of the car and check for injured people and damage on the cars.

If there is only minor damage, immediately move your vehicle to the roadside so that you don’t block the road. It is a good idea to take some pictures of the scene before moving the cars. Germans are really crazy about their cars and accidents. That’s mainly because they’re shocked and think preserving the scene for the police might "help" in some way. It’s not unusual that they will block an entire 4-lane crossroad during rush hours just because you slightly touched their bumper. Don’t bother. Check the situation and tell them they have to clear the road (refer to the traffic regulations (stvo) §34.2) – and maybe remind them of the fine for blocking the traffic.

If there is only minor material damage you are only obligated to exchange names, addresses and insurance information. It is always a good idea to write down a report, stating all involved cars, drivers, witnesses and how the accident happened. Have it signed by all parties. It is neither necessary nor mandatory to call the police. Some people will want to call the police and expect you to wait for them but you do not have to. If you are driving a rental car, the car rental may want you to call the police and file a report; just ask when picking up the car.

In case of heavy damage or injuries (or one of the passengers complaining about headache) then it gets difficult. Injuries from car accidents often cause trauma with huge costs for medical treatment and the insurances will look very closely how the accident happened (and who is to blame). In this case do not move anything, secure the crash site and try to help injured people. Then call 112 for rescue service and state: where, what, how many casualties, which injuries – then wait for further instructions. Even if nobody is hurt but there is a lot of damage (with parts lying around, especially oil leaking), call 110 for police. They will come, regulate the traffic and will call someone to clean up the road.

Most of the accidents (something around 80-90%) happen in cities and on rural roads. In the rare case you have an emergency on a freeway (or some other multi-lane road with heavy or fast traffic), slow down without endangering the traffic around and stop on the emergency lane. First of all, before getting out of the car, watch out for the traffic. Each year people who are trying to help in an accident are fatally hit by another car. Put on your reflective vest (all passengers), get out on the right side of the car (the side without traffic) and get behind the guardrail. Take the breakdown triangle (usually out of the trunk) and place it approximately 150-200 m (500-650 ft) behind the car on the roadside. Always walk behind the guardrail.

With the police involved there is also usually a fine to pay (approximately €25 if the accident was caused in "stationary" traffic: parking and can be up to €40 if the accident was caused in "moving" traffic), which must be paid either on the spot or at the nearest police station. The fine can be higher if there was an obstruction or hazard to other road users. Leaving an accident, if caught, is punished with a heavy fine (the german police possess surprising efficiency when it comes to tracking down foreign cars caught breaking the traffic laws).

Despite all the bad things with having an accident, it is nothing you have to worry about financially because each car must have a liability insurance. If you caused the accident, the insurance will pay for all the damage you caused (not damage on your own car)!) and the medical treatment. If another driver caused it, his/her insurance will cover your damage and medical treatment. The only thing you have to look for is damage you cause on your own car; this is only covered if you have a "vollkasko" [CDW). It is always a good idea to take out such an insurance (unless you own a pretty cheap/old car). Usually there is a deductible of €250-1000, but that’s it. The only thing you should never do (like in every other country) is driving under heavy influence of alcohol (defined as 0,11 % or 1,1 permille blood alcohol or more) or other drugs (don’t forget some pharmaceuticals). Although fines are pretty high, in addition to it you will have to pay up to €5,000 of the damage you caused (because of negligence) and CDW will not pay anything of your own damage.

Maximum speeds [ edit ]

Speed limits are the following in germany (unless otherwise shown):

  • Walking speed (4-7 km/h) on "traffic-calmed area" (traffic calmed area, marked by a blue/white sign showing a car, a pedestrian and a playing kid on the road). There are no lanes or sidewalks, cars don’t have priority, parking is banned except in marked spots.
  • 30 km/h in most residential areas within cities (marked with a sign "30-zone wohngebiet"), 20-zone and 10-zone also exist, very often in combination within a right-before-left crossroad area)
  • 50 km/h inside towns and cities. Be aware that there are no 50 speed limit signs on entry to a town or village, the yellow town sign is the marker for the start of the 50 km/h limit. And yes, that’s why those signs are not at the same place as the administrative boundary.
  • 100 km/h outside towns and cities (including "kraftfahrstraben") (marked by a sign showing a white car on a blue background))
  • There is no constant general speed limit on the "autobahn" or on "motor roads if there is any kind of barrier between two or more lanes of different direction. However, it is not an entirely unrestricted roadway as there are sections that are periodically or permanently assigned lower rates of speed. The recommended maximum speed ("richtgeschwindigkeit") on the autobahn is 130 km/h, and if you drive on the autobahn for your first time and are not yet used to the usual heavy traffic, you should not exceed that speed. In addition, if you are traveling in excess of 130 km/h and are involved in an accident, you can still be held liable for part or all of the damage regardless of fault on your part. On some rental vehicles, you might lose your insurance. The best way to think about going past 130 km/h is as a speeding violation, which isn’t fined. In case someone makes a mistake, you are fully responsible (as if you broke the speed limit).
  • When towing a trailer or operating a truck/bus/heavy vehicle, the maximum speed is 80 km/h, even on a road with a higher posted speed limit, unless the components are rated for a higher speed. The maximum speed for trucks on country roads is 60 km/h, not raised by speed signage either.

Speed cameras are common in germany (the country has one of the highest speed camera concentrations in europe) and are found mostly in towns and cities. Temporary road works on the motorway are usually a favourite for the police so obey the speed limit, which is clearly marked. There is also some tendency to do shenanigans with the local sign (the yellow sign at the entrance of towns) which signifies the blanket 50 km/h speed limit in effect inside built up areas, which is often further out than the edge of the settlement and sometimes moved without any change in the built environment. Sometimes there are official signs "attention radar!" or something similar – to warn about a speed camera. Take the advice – there can be a speed camera.

All forms of radar jammers and radar detectors are illegal. Radar (speed camera) apps on smartphones and satellite navigation systems with a speed camera overlay are illegal for the driver to use but not for other passengers.

The following table gives an overview of the fines for speeding (the speeds below indicate the difference between the speed limit and the actual speed travelled after the 3 km/h allowance has been deducted)

Inside built-up areas

  • Up to 10 km/h €15
  • 11-15 km/h €25
  • 16-20 km/h €35
  • 21-25 km/h €80 [1 point]
  • 26-30 km/h €100 [1 point]
  • 31-40 km/h €160 [2 points, 1 month driving ban]
  • 41-50 km/h €200 [2 points, 1 month driving ban]
  • 51-60 km/h €280 [2 points, 2 months driving ban]
  • 61-70 km/h €480 [2 points, 3 months driving ban]
  • Over 70 km/h €680 [2 points, 3 months driving ban]

Outside built-up areas (such as motorway, country roads; also in road works)

  • Up to 10 km/h €10
  • 11-15 km/h €20
  • 16-20 km/h €30
  • 21-25 km/h €70 [1 point]
  • 26-30 km/h €80 [1 point]
  • 31-40 km/h €120 [1 points]
  • 41-50 km/h €160 [2 points, 1 month driving ban]
  • 51-60 km/h €240 [2 points, 1 month driving ban]
  • 61-70 km/h €440 [2 points, 2 months driving ban]
  • Over 70 km/h €600 [2 points, 3 months driving ban]

NB: there is an extra €23.50 for any fine over €40.

You have the right to appeal against any traffic violation, but this process is long, complicated and can cost a lot of money.

Only vehicles with a maximum speed of more than 60 km/h are allowed on the "autobahn or "motor roads".

If there is a traffic jam or slowly moving traffic, you have to leave space for emergency vehicles to be able to pass (german: salvage lane).

Driving on the freeway [ edit ]

In 1974 dusseldorf electronic-music pioneers kraftwerk had a hit with "autobahn", which brought both them and the roads the song was about to the attention of the world. For many listeners the linedrive’n drive’n drive’n on the highway" might as well have been referring to"fun, fun, fun on the autobahn", since they took the song as an invitation to come to germany and drive the autobahn into the idyllic landscape of the album cover. The near-total freedom from speed limits was a big part of the attraction, as well.

It still is. Design standards call for generally level surfaces and wide, gentle turns, allowing higher speeds, and maintenance is intensive and regular. On nice weekends you’ll find a lot of locals and foreigners out on the autobahn in their porsches or bmws, or other high-performance vehicles, driving them the way they were designed to be driven. If you want to join in, if this is one of things you came to germany to do, keep the following in mind:

  • German drivers tend to drive faster, more aggressively and competively than you might be used to, especially on the parts of the highway system without a speed limit.
  • While most passenger vehicles have only a recommended speed limit of 130 km/h, buses have a speed limit of 100 km/h (or even 80 km/h), and most vehicles towing a trailer, along with buses in general and non-passenger vehicles with a gross weight of greater than 3.5 t, are limited only to 80 km/h. Some newer trailers have a speed limit of 100 km/h.
  • Road signs on the autobahn show possible destinations (mostly city names). They do not show the direction of the road (east/west), unlike in some other countries. However, every odd-numbered autobahn will go north/south (e.G. A49), whereas the even-numbered ones go west/east. Furthermore, single digit autobahn numbers indicate a very long autobahn such as the A7 which goes from the border with denmark all the way down to the austrian border. Double digit autobahns are considerably shorter like the A 73 that links suhl in thuringen with nuremberg and triple digit autobahns are often urban highways and generally only of local importance such as the A 100 which makes a never completed circle through berlin.

Driving in germany

  • You must use the right lane if free, even if everybody seems to prefer the left and middle lanes (where they exist). You may stay in the middle lane only if there are occasional slower vehicles on the right. Overtaking on the right is not allowed and will be dangerous since other drivers won’t expect it. You must always pass vehicles on the left side, except in very slow-moving traffic queues. Before overtaking, look carefully behind as there might be really fast cars or bikes coming. You must indicate your desire to switch lanes by using your indicators before you switch.
  • Autobahns have an emergency lane where you can stop only in case of a breakdown or other emergency; it’s illegal and dangerous to stop there for any other reason. the emergency lane is a dangerous place: you should leave your vehicle and stay off the road until help arrives! For everything else, always use the frequent service areas. Running out of fuel on the autobahn may also incur a fine if the police happen to notice you, as this is considered to be avoidable. If you have to stop you must set up your warning triangle behind (provided in rental cars).
  • Arrows on the small posts along the highway will guide you to the next orange emergency phone. These will automatically connect you free of charge with a call center that directs police, ambulances or just a mechanic.
  • In some areas, emergency tracks are used as extra lanes in times of heavy traffic. This is always announced by electronic signs.
  • In most countries, if you were nearing a car that you would soon have to overtake, even if you had another car going much faster than you that you would block by moving to overtake, you would overtake first, forcing the faster car to lose a lot of momentum, because you had reached the obstacle car first. In germany, however, since the faster car has more speed to lose if you go first, the polite and safe thing to do is to tap your brakes or indicate right to tell the fast car that you have seen him and are letting him pass the obstacle first. Of course, you must judge how fast the fast car is closing on you, the make of car, if its lights are on, and if it is already overtaking. Cars that could have passed both obstacles in seconds will not be impressed that you jump in front of them instead of waiting.
  • You are not allowed to force other cars in front of you to go into the right lane by continuously flashing your lights or using a turn signal if you want to overtake them, however a single flash to make sure other drivers know the fact you are approaching fast is permitted. Interpretation of what is pressuring other drivers and what is not is a legal argument you may want to avoid.
  • Never overtake on the right. In addition to being illegal (except in traffic jams at speeds below 60 km/h) it’s so rare that few drivers will expect it, making it quite dangerous.

traffic congestion [ edit]

While congestion is a problem on some parts of the autobahn network as well as inner cities year round the beginning of summer holidays in nordrhein westfalen and bayern and certain weekends in winter tend to be worse for congestion. If possible try to avoid the beginning (and for all two week holidays) the end of school vacation periods and especially the saturday and sunday of them. Some routes are particularly prone to congestion, most of which are the historically busy north south routes such as A9 (munich-nuremberg-berlin) or A7 (hamburg-kassel-fussen) or routes running through densely populated areas like ruhr. Other congestion prone streets are those that cross the former german-german border where years of neglect and the sudden change of traffic movements after the opening of the border and reunification have left a dilapidated system crowded beyond capacity. However twenty five years of construction and relieving bottlenecks have done much to ease the worst congestion. That being said construction is still more likely to slow you down in the east than in the west. A particular problem on highways in the former east germany is concrete used in the early 1990s that is particularly prone to alkali-silica reaction and now has to be replaced earlier than planned. Many highways in the east consequently have construction to replace crumbled concrete.

Rush hour in major cities is a bad time to drive anywhere and with the excellent public transit that almost all German cities enjoy there is really no reason to do so, unless you particularly enjoy staring at the tail lights of the car in front of you for hours on end. Most major cities have – usually free – parking& ride facilities at outlying S-bahn, U-bahn or streetcar (streetcar, sometimes called stadtbahn) stops to entice people from out of town to drop their car there and take transit into town. This is always a good idea, but if there is a christmas market or other big event in town it’s an even better idea.

Fuels[ edit]

Gasoline prices are kept high by taxation. As of april 2018 prices float around €1.40 per liter for petrol (91 AKI, 95 RON), and around €1.25 per liter for diesel. Along the autobahns the prices are much higher than elsewhere.

If still available, regular petrol (87 AKI, 91 RON) and "super" is the same price in germany. At petrol stations, you have the choice between diesel, super (91 AKI, 95 RON), super E-10 (91 AKI, 95 RON, but with up to 10 % ethanol) and superplus (98 RON) or ultimate (100 RON). Regular or "petrol (87 AKI, 91 RON) is rarely offered any longer. All fuel is unleaded and if you have a car that needs leaded fuel you would have to add the lead by hand.

Also, LPG (liquid petroleum gas) is available at more than 6,600 petrol stations with few problems on highways. Mostly the ACME-connector is used. At staffed stations adaptors may be borrowed at the cashier. The price is around €0.58 per liter (apr 2018).

Very often you also might find "natural gas" at a price around €1.05 per kilogram; this is compressed natural gas (CNG), neither LPG nor gasoline.

"Normal" gasoline contains 5% ethanol, but most car engines are said to have no problems handling that. "E10" (containing 10% ethanol) has been introduced to reduce fossil dependency (with mixed results to say the least). While modern cars should not have any problem handling "E10", it should be specified somewhere in the documents pertaining to the car as otherwise you might be liable for any damages caused or allegedly caused by E10.

In germany, you may first fill up your tank and pay afterwards (only if the petrol station is staffed, of course). Rarely stations will not release the fuel to pump unless you pay first or at least hand over a credit card in advance. Sometimes gas stations or small stores do not accept €500 or €200 banknotes, for fear of counterfeits. Be aware there are still some rural gas stations that only accept cash and local credit/debit cards!

Charging stations for electric cars are becoming more and more common in urban areas and in some places they don’t charge anything in addition to the parking fee you’d pay anyways. While there are efforts to introduce similar charging stations throughout europe, some are still not compatible with each other, so check ahead before trying to plug your car into the "wrong" one station.

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