How to drive on the Autobahn (as an American)Jan 26, 2024
If there’s anything anyone knows about driving in Germany, it likely involves the Autobahn. The Autobahn is a widespread network of high-speed highways in Germany, known for its lack of speed limits on many sections. However, there are still many Autobahn rules, as well as things to keep in mind when driving on these roadways. (For a true in-depth guide to driving in Germany—including Autobahn tips and virtual experience driving on the Autobahn before your trip—check out our unique, interactive driving guide to Germany. We’ve already helped hundreds of travelers prepare to drive safely and confidently abroad.)
- In many sections, there is no speed limit. Yes it’s true, unlike most other roadways in the U.S. and most countries in Europe, in many sections, the Autobahn does not have one so don’t just assume you can put the pedal to the metal in all areas of the Autobahn.
- However, there are recommended speeds. When driving in Germany on the Autobahn, you’ll often see recommended speeds, especially in areas with curves, hills, or intersections. These recommendations are meant to keep drivers safe.
- Some sections have dynamic speed limits: Some sections of the Autobahn have variable speed limits that change based on traffic conditions, weather, or construction. Electronic signs display these variable limits to optimize safety.
- Autobahn rules are strict: Despite the lack of general speed limits, it is essential to adhere to traffic rules and regulations. Reckless driving, tailgating, and other dangerous behaviors are subject to enforcement, and can be penalized with hefty fines or points on your driver’s license.
- Pass on the left: On the Autobahn, the left lane is often used for overtaking. After passing another vehicle, move back to the right lane. Slower traffic should keep to the right.
- Watch for emergency lanes: Another important Autobahn rule to keep in mind is that the emergency lane is truly for emergencies only. It is illegal to use it for regular driving or overtaking.
- German drivers are very safety-conscious: Germany has a strong driving culture that emphasizes safety and responsibility. Drivers are generally well-trained, and the country has rigorous requirements for obtaining a driver's license. No speed limits does not mean unsafe driving!
For more about driving in Germany, check out our other blog: What to Know About Driving in Germany or even check out our Top 10 German Road Trips article for inspiration. And before you go, we also recommend checking out our Germany driving guide, full of easy-to-understand videos, interactive driving tours, and more to get you on the road with confidence.
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