Driving in Germany - An Introduction
Speed limits in Germany are measured in KPH (Kilometres per Hour). Ensure you check the road signs, as speed limits can vary greatly.
|Motorways||None, unless signposted|
|Outside built-up areas||50-65mph/80-105kph|
Watch out for signs in built up areas restricting you to 30kph (18mph). These limits can also be painted on the road.
Germany has no road tolls for cars, it is the only large country amongst those in continental Europe to allow toll free driving. Since August 2003 there have been tolls in place for trucks.
For further details regarding driving in Germany, including route planners and driving distances, please visit: www.germany-tourism.de
General Tips and Road Information
German roads are fast and well maintained. Notoriously, German motorways (the Autobahn) are free of speed limits in certain areas, but where speed limits do exist they are generally strongly enforced and as such it is obviously advisable that you stick to them.
Avoid using your car horn in built up areas of Germany, restrict their use to emergencies.
It is illegal to overtake using the centre lane of a three or five lane two-way carriageway.
If you encounter trams whilst driving in Germany be aware that they are given priority at all times. You are permitted to overtake trams on either side on one-way streets; but if you encounter a tram on a two-way street, it must be overtaken on the right. You must avoid overtaking trams when their occupants are either climbing aboard or alighting.
Do not overtake school buses when they are at a standstill and have their red lights flashing. Buses have priority when leaving stops.
Pedestrian crossings in Germany:
Watch out for pedestrian crossings, marked on the road in painted white bands. If you come across a pedestrian attempting to cross here you must give way.
Washing your car in Germany:
Washing your car on the public highway is illegal in Germany, make sure you use private property.
Driving in German residential areas:
If you are driving in residential areas of Germany be aware that traffic 'calming zones' (Verkehrsberuhigungenzone) are usually in effect. This means pedestrians may use the entire street, and children are allowed to play in the street, so proceed with extreme caution.
Parking in German towns and cities:
To park you will usually need to purchase a blue parking disc (called a Parkscheibe) from a local shop or service station, or purchase a parking (pay and display) ticket (a Parkschein) / use a parking meter where available.
You can usually pay for fuel with a major credit card. If you are collecting a rental car at the airport there will normally be a fuel station close by, if not, ask the rental company for directions. Leaded 'super' petrol has an octane rating of 95, 'super plus' is 98 octane. It is an offence to run out of fuel on the Autobahn - punishable with on-the-spot fines - so make sure you keep the tank full.
English to German Translation of Fuel Terms:
|Unleaded petrol||Bleifrei Normal or Bleifrei Super|
|Liquid Petroleum||Gas Autogas|
Minimum driving age:
The minimum driving age in Germany is 18yrs.
If you are visiting Germany for less than a year you are covered by your domestic drivers licence.
A warning triangle.
Children in the front seat:
Children in the front passenger seat must be at least 12 years old or 1.5 metres tall unless using a child seat.
You are legally required to wear a seatbelt in Germany both as the driver of a vehicle and as a passenger.
It is illegal to drive in Germany with just your sidelights on. In bad weather you are required to use your low beam headlights.
When you ride a motorcycle in Germany you must have your headlights on at all times.
Emergency Telephone Number
As with most of Europe you can use 112 to get through to emergency services. This number is multilingual.
The above pointers are by no means exhaustive. Drivers spending any time in Germany should try to familiarise themselves with all the rules of the road, including traffic signals, signposting, road-markings, speed limits etc.
Take care and enjoy the drive!