When you go to Europe, it’s important to know the laws and rules of the road. Knowing your responsibilities while driving overseas is something important, and is often overlooked. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting some countries that have different driving laws than we are used to in the states, and going over safety procedures. Any helpful information you have on the countries we discuss is always welcome!
The Autobahn is the network of highways that interconnect Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It is the third largest highway infrastructure in the world, behind the United States, and China, respectively. While driving on the Autobahn is a dream for car enthusiasts, there are a few important things that you should know before you rent a sports car in Germany. Safety above all else, takes precedence.
Rules of the Autobahn
Don’t let the illusions of a speed-limit free highway cloud your mind. In reality, much of the Autobahn network has mandated speed limits, particularly around urban areas. These are important to note. You can see what all the road signs will look like at our road signs of Germany page. It is not uncommon for speed limits to change. You will notice large lit up signs showing any change in speed limit.
There are of course different laws that apply to driving in Germany. The German police cars and motorcycles that patrol the Autobahn are equipped with video cameras. This allows the enforcement of laws which are often difficult to enforce in court, such as tailgating. Probably the most important safety rule to be aware of is “Rechtsfarhen,” or drive right. This means that unless you are passing another vehicle, you must drive in the right lane. If you are leisurely driving in the center or left, you are not only risking a substantial fine, and making other motorists angry, you would be creating a very dangerous situation for yourself and others. Passing on the right hand side is also strictly forbidden, even if the other driver is driving illegally in the left hand lane. The police would rather you flash your lights at another driver then pass incorrectly.
If you’re thinking you can just ignore the ticket, think again. German police are authorized to fine you on the spot, and revoke your driving privileges if you are deemed unsafe. As you can imagine being unable to drive your rental car in Germany could put a damper on your vacation. Also, don’t forget to get an international drivers license before you leave, regardless of your destination. While it may not be mandatory everywhere, like a parachute is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. With proper education, you can be sure to have the dream drive on the Autobahn you have always wanted!