Germany is every automobile lover’s dream. Home of some of the automotive industries leading brands and the only country with unlimited speeds, Germany is worth visiting just for the thrill of being able to drive (and I mean DRIVE) a car like you stole it. But there are some things you should know before you hit the German speedways with reckless abandon and a lead foot.
1. There ARE speed limits
Autobahn is the German word for “highway” and just because it’s called an autobahn, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a speed limit. In fact, most highways will have a speed limit of 120kph that Germans observe. However, when you see the white signs with grey diagonal stripes, this is your green light to put the pedal to the metal. As long as you don’t see any speed limit signs, you can live out your F1 fantasies on this stretch of road as fast as you have the balls to.
2. Observe passing lane rules
For most Americans, we’re used to multilane highways and speed limits of 65mph. There really is no passing lane—just the relatively fast lane and the relatively slow lane. However, German autobahns have 2 lanes for the most part meaning passing rules are observed quite closely. Always drive in the right lane until you need to pass the car in front of you, only then should you switch to the left lane to pass.
Remember that the lack of speed limits in some sections means that cars can come through the left lane at neck-breaking speeds. Allow fast cars to pass when you see them coming in your rear-view. Flashing headlights is a nice way of asking someone to get the hell out of your way.
3. Watch for cameras
There may not be too many police patrolling the streets, but that’s only because there are traffic cameras just about everywhere ready to take your picture when you’re more than 5km above the posted speed limits. Watch for these on main roads running into and out of towns, in tunnels, and on the highways as well.
In the cities, you can recognize them by spotting a large, olive green box posted on the side. They only face one way, but cities tend to change their direction every now and then. Just because it was facing you when you were coming in, it doesn’t mean you can speed up on your way out.
In tunnels, they are usually white boxes perched in the corners just as you come out of the tunnel. On the highways, watch for metal structures that transverse all lanes. The cameras point both ahead and straight down. Remember, you have about a 5km leeway before the cameras start clicking but if you see a flash and you’re not a celebrity, you’ve just been caught speeding on tape.
One of the longest stretches of unrestricted speed limits is the A81 which runs from the town of Singen on the Swiss border to Stuttgart, Germany. The drive is both beautifully scenic at any time of the year and has both elongated sweeping curves long straight ways. Driving on a German autobahn really is the ultimate driving experience and as long as you keep these pointers in mind, driving in Germany can be one of the most enjoyable experiences for amateur and experienced drivers alike. So enjoyable, you might never want to reach your destination.
Picture of German highway originally posted by soundmonster