Driving in Germany can be really delightful especially with the roadside views and the German Autobahn (German expressways) are a pleasure to drive.
Germany like any other country has its own motoring rules and regulations to follow. If you are a tourist never forget to carry important documents like ID Card, driver’s license or passport with you or else you can be penalized.
For all those who are new in Germany, here are our 13 essential tips for you to drive safely through the country and enjoy its beautiful locations.
What do I need for Driving in Germany?
The legal driving age in Germany is 18 years even for tourists and you need to have your full valid UK license.
If you are a visitor in Germany always carry your visa, ID Card, and passport that will prove how long you are staying in the country.
Other essential documents include registration documents and car third-party insurance policies that should always be with you while you are driving.
All passengers in a car are required to wear seatbelts by law in Germany both in front and rear seats. If you fail to do so you can be penalized with a spot fine of around 30 Euros.
Also, ensure that you carry a first-aid kit and a ‘Reflective Warning Triangle’ with you in the car. It is illegal not to have them in your car while you are driving as it may come in handy in case of an emergency.
Although not compulsory, German-registered drivers must always carry a reflective jacket with them.
How fast are you allowed to drive on the Autobahn?
Driving in Autobahn can be exciting at the same time a little confusing especially if you are driving for the first time.
In many sections of the Autobahn, there is no speed limit but don’t get carried away. Your speed limit should depend on the traffic, weather conditions, and the visibility or else you might get a speeding ticket for driving too fast.
The recommended speed limit for two-wheelers and cars are 130 km/h and in built-up areas is 50 km/h. In all other areas, the speed limit is 100 km/h.
In Autobahn, there are separate lanes for high-moving and slow-moving cars. If you are a slow driver take the right lane and you are safe. Also, it is mandatory to keep a distance of 50 m between cars to keep traffic in control.
Gas is expensive in Germany
If you are a traveler remember to carry valid credit cards that are accepted in the petrol stations in Germany.
Fuel costs are quite expensive in Germany compared to the US. You can carry up to 10 liters of petrol in your vehicle at one time.
LPG is available in all the major fuel stations in Germany and costs around 0.529 €/L. unleaded petrol costs around 1.189 €/L and diesel are 0.979 €/L currently.
Road Signs in Germany
Most of the road signs in Germany are of international standards and are easy to understand even though you are not familiar with the language of the country. But there are certain traffic signs in Germany that may be unknown to you. Few tips might come in handy when you are touring Germany.
The best part of these road signs in Germany is that they have illustrative pictures that will easily help you to understand them.
Most of the road signs are in red triangular shapes with descriptive images like slippery roads ahead, wild animals, or pedestrian crossing.
The speed limit signs in Germany come in red circles stating the maximum kilometers per hour or kph.
Another unique feature of Germany, unlike any other country, is that they have a minimum speed limit as well. Yes, you heard it right. Especially in the Autobahns region, there is a minimum speed limit that comes within a blue circle with the suggested number printed within. This is to eliminate unnecessary congestion of traffic due to the slow moving of vehicles.
The German Prohibitory Road Signs comes within red circles with images within that will help even a non-German to understand them easily.
There are numerous informative road signs in Germany that is blue in color with infographics inside that indicates the type of road ahead or if there is a bus lane nearby, etc.
Parking can be a matter of concern no matter where you live. In Germany, the picture is no different but there are ample parking signs that will help you to understand the parking regulations of the country.
Allowed parking is denoted by blue square signage, quite clear to understand. Parking prohibitory signs are a circular blue sign with a red border.
An interesting fact about Germany is that you can also park on the sidewalks. The sign is usually the regular parking sign with the addition of an image of a car parked on the sidewalk.
Driving in Germany left, or right?
Germany is a right-driving country. The driver’s seat is therefore on the left side of the car.
In Germany, you cannot turn right on the red signal unless there is a green arrow right next to it.
Germany follows the ‘right-of-way’ rules and you must always pull over on the righthand side of the road.
Traffic coming from the righthand side always gets priority in all crossroads and junctions.
Overtaking rules in Germany
In heavy traffic roads where there are two or more lanes traveling in the same direction vehicles on the right can overtake those on the left.
Trams can be overtaken on the right but if there is no space they may be overtaken on the left.
Priority is always given to passengers who are getting off or boarding a bus or tram.
School buses who have parked on a built-up area should indicate others with red-flashing lights as a safety measure.
There is a ‘no overtaking sign’ where two-wheelers like a motorcyclist cannot overtake a car but a car can always overtake a motorcycle.
You must always wait for buses leaving a marked bus stop.
Light Signals in Germany
Germany follows the international three-color traffic signal like the rest of the part of the world.
If you see headlights flashing you at the back from your rearview mirror immediately slow down and move to the right. The other car will understand and pass by.
If you are driving on the highway and you see a car flashing its hazard lights, it means that the car had to stop immediately. In such cases, the best thing to do is to slow down and flash yours as well to prevent accidents.
Drinking and driving can cost you in Germany
In Germany, the blood alcohol limit is 0.5 milligrams per mm of blood. A person exceeding the limit can be subjected to a fine or a license suspension up to 3 months.
If you are 21, the rules are even more stringent. You can be subjected to a fine of €250 even for a small amount of alcohol detection.
Fines for a traffic violation in Germany
Like any other country, in Germany you will be fined for breaking traffic rules, excessive speeding, using derogatory languages or signs.
Fines for a traffic violation can be made on the spot or in the form of a ticket. In case the driver refuses to pay the fine, his/her vehicle can be confiscated.
In Germany wheel clamps for illegally parked cars are not used. Instead, the cars causing obstruction can be towed away.
Fines for parking offenses can vary from €10-35 and for vehicle retrieval, it may vary from €100 to 300.
In Germany, if you are involved in an accident leaving the scene of the accident is punishable and you can be fined and imprisoned for a maximum of 3 years.
If you are able to move you should immediately turn on the warning triangle and provide first aid to the injured and call for help. The emergency numbers are 110 (police) and 112 (fire brigade).
Remember to jot down the time and place of the accident and be ready with your insurance papers.
Photo Radar detector for speed limits
Radar detectors are illegal in Germany but do not be fooled. Instead, they use much more sophisticated photo radar. It is an electronic radar unit with an automated camera.
These electronic portable devices are placed on many parts of the roads even on selected places of the Autobahns. As soon as you exceed the suggested speed of 130 km/h, you will be photographed and will be issued a ticket later.
Child safety measures
Seatbelts are made compulsory not only for children but for all passengers in a car. All children aged 3 and under the age of 12 should take the rear seats in the car.
Children with a height not exceeding 1.5 meters and under the age of 12 should use a child seat or a restraint for safety.
All child safety measures should adhere to the European standard safety protocol.