When us Brits think of Germany; their famous beer, sausages and Christmas markets are usually the first thing that comes to mind for most of us, but if you’re a car fanatic, it’s probably Autobahn. The 12,996-kilometre federal-controlled motorway which is also known by tourists as the motorway with no speed limits. In fact, it is believed that this is because Germany is a proud owner of some of the words top well-engineered cars. Therefore, they can justify their cars flying across those highways!
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the Autobahn before visiting, including the speed limits, the benefits you can get from using it and other important rules and regulations.
Are There Any Speed Limits?
The answer to this is, yes. A lot of people will have heard the myth that Autobahn is primarily just a track to race at top speed, which is true to some degree; However, there are some restrictions when it comes to built-up areas such as Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin. These limits can range from 80kph-130kph (50mph-80mph). Back in 2014, the Autobahn tracks carried 31% of motorised road traffic which accounted for 11% of Germany’s traffic deaths, so however high your need for speed is, take into account that these speed limits are put in place to protect you and others from fatal car accidents!
As dangerous as it may seem, research shows that 60% of these fatal car accidents actually occur on country roads where the speed limit is only 62mph but this makes sense because you find the most hazards, such as harsh curves.
When away from the congested areas, you will come across dynamic speed limits, which are electronic speed limit signs that are occasionally modified when there are obstructions, such as weather changes and busy traffic.
Finally, moving onto the news you wanted to hear. There are certain parts of the Autobahn that don’t come with a speed limit. This means, you really can test your need for speed! An eighth of the Autobahn has no speed limit at all. On top of this, around two-thirds of the Autobahn has no permanent speed limit but it does come with an ‘advisory’ speed limit of 80mph.
As the German track is a popular destination for thrill-seeking drivers, this advice becomes pretty much irrelevant! You can find more information on following German road signs such as speed limit signs here.
What Are the Laws and Regulations?
As riveting as it may seem for thrill-seekers, there are some rules and regulations that must be taken into account when driving on the Autobahn. These rules will make it just as safe for you as it is exhilarating.
The Left-Hand Lane Is For Very Fast Drivers & Overtaking Only
When it comes to the areas on the Autobahn with no advisory or maximum speed limit, the left-hand lane is for those who want to go very fast or overtake only! It’s actually illegal to overtake in the right-hand lane unless there’s traffic. However, the idea of driving above 90mph isn’t for everyone! In fact, research shows that a majority of people in Germany think the Autobahn should have permanent speed limits. Therefore, you might find these drivers moving between each lane as they occasionally overtake which requires a lot of attention, so it’s essential that you’re careful around them even if you are travelling almost double their speed.
Always Double-Check Your Side-View Mirror
If you find yourself in the left-hand lane of the Autobahn, this is when you should always double-check your left-hand side mirror before moving into the overtaking lane because to those cars in the right-hand lane going at turbulent speed, you won’t even look like you’re moving! Once you’re in the right-hand lane, it’s important you follow the flow of the traffic and not go any slower because this is just as dangerous as going at top speed!
Your Car’s Tyres Must Be Rated For Top Speed
When driving along the Autobahn, it’s essential that your tyres are fit to perform at their best when you’re driving at your car’s maximum speed. There are exceptions for certain weather like snow; However, you must always display a window sticker telling police that your tyres are suitable.
Always Follow The Two-Second Rule
You must always leave at least a two-second gap for reaction time between you and the vehicle in front to avoid collisions if the vehicle were to slow down or suddenly break. If you don’t, this can result in a driving suspension of up to 3 months.
To find more rules put in place by the German Transport Ministry and the charges if failure to follow, click here.
Are There Any Other Tips That I Need To Know?
The rettungsgasse, meaning escape route, is an extra open lane allowing emergency vehicles to pass which is usually formed by the right-hand lane moving as far right as possible and the left-hand lane moving as far left as possible. We know that traffic jams are irritating, especially if you’ve come to a sudden stop and need to stretch your legs, but it’s even more important to follow the rules during an emergency, so avoid opening your car doors and standing in the road because this can cause more delays and obstructions.
Take a Break
We know that driving for hours can be draining enough as it is, so never mind driving at a higher speed. It’s advised that you stop and take at least a 15-minute rest from driving every 2 hours. So, park up and take a break at one of the Autobahn’s rest stops (Raststätten).
What Benefits Does The Autobahn Have?
If you’re wondering what the Autobahn has to offer that regular roads in other countries don’t, here are a few of the benefits:
The Roads Are Very Well-maintained
You might be thinking that the roads would be worse from the daily hurtling of vehicles, but you’re wrong. Because of this, safety is ensured and the Autobahn roads are built with multiple layers of concrete and are inspected regularly for any hazardous dangers, so they’re more than ideal to accommodate the top-speeding drivers.
German Cars Have Thorough Inspections
If you’re planning on visiting Germany to use the Autobahn and hire a car whilst you’re out there, you’re more likely to be in safe hands than anywhere else you choose to drive. This is because cars in Germany have frequent and thorough checks before they’re said to be ‘safe for use on the road’ to avoid any danger.
Tailgating Is Heavily Regulated
One of the best things about driving on the Autobahn is that tailgating is strongly regulated compared to other countries, so this will allow your driving experience to be much safer than anywhere else, even if you are driving twice the speed. Even though it’s rare to spot a police car on the Autobahn, if someone is unlucky enough to get caught tailgating, they can be given a hefty fine of up to £360.
You Can Ride For Free
The only vehicles that currently have to pay tolls are trucks which is great for car drivers because firstly, you don’t have to worry about fishing for money and secondly, you don’t have to stop at the most inconvenient times of your journey.
Riviera Alloy Wheels
If you want your car to be as high performing as a German car on Autobahn but without the price tag, or if you already have a German car but want to improve its performance and style even further, why not take a look at our range of luxury alloy wheels. Our market knowledge and experience mean we are able to offer the highest quality service and standards so if you want direct advice from us, give us a call on 01274 864457 today.