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What to Know About Driving in Germany

Aug 20, 2023
Driving in Germany

From stunning mountains to dense forests, charming villages to medieval ruins, driving in Germany is sure to open up a world of wonder for every type of traveler. While many foreigners may be intimidated by stories of the Autobahn, we can assure you that Germany is an incredibly safe place to drive. 

To feel confident taking on a road trip in this part of the world, we recommend prepping with our driving guide, featuring quick video tutorials, our patented driving tours, and PDFs to take with you on the road!

In the meantime, here are some quick tips. 

1. Autobahn Driving:

Most people know the famed Autobahn for its stretches with no speed limits (“unrestricted zones”). However, many portions do have speed limits that you must follow. Further, unrestricted zones don't mean "no rules"; drivers must still operate their vehicles safely and within their capabilities. Many American standards still apply, including pass on the left, slower-moving traffic on the right.

2. Adhere to Traffic Rules:

In general, German traffic rules are strict and are followed. Be aware that speed cameras, radars, and other monitoring systems are commonly used to track and penalize violations, many of which come with very high fines. It's important for visitors to familiarize themselves with German traffic rules before driving to ensure a safe and smooth experience on the road. For in-depth information about German driving rules, reading road signs, and other helpful tips, check out our Germany driving guide.

3. Be familiar with roundabouts:

 Roundabouts are more common in Germany than they are in many regions in the U.S., so it’s important to know how to navigate them when considering driving in Germany. Some key tips include the following:

    1. As you approach the roundabout, slow down and yield to any vehicles already in the roundabout. 
    2. Roundabouts may have multiple lanes. If you're taking the first or second exit, use the right lane. If you're taking a later exit, use the left lane.
    3. While driving within the roundabout, stay in your lane and follow the road markings. Don't change lanes within the roundabout until you can safely begin approaching your exit.
    4. Keep a steady, continuous pace within the roundabout. Avoid stopping or slowing down excessively, as this can disrupt traffic flow.
    5. Passing other vehicles within the roundabout is not allowed. Maintain your position in the lane and respect the right of way of vehicles to your left.

4. Make sure you have an "Umweltplakette"

Also known as an environmental badge or emission sticker, is a colored sticker that indicates the emission class of a vehicle and is used to regulate vehicle access to certain environmental zones within cities and regions. Vehicles with higher emission levels (typically red or no sticker) may be prohibited from entering the environmental zones on certain days or during specific hours. To obtain an Umweltplakette, you need to provide proof of your vehicle's emission class—your rental car company can also assist.

5. No ‘right on red'

In Germany, it is generally not allowed to turn right on red, unless there is a specific sign or traffic light indicating that it's permitted. Unlike in some other countries, where right turns on red are allowed after coming to a complete stop and yielding to other traffic, Germany follows a stricter rule.

6. Be Prepared for Winter Driving

In winter, especially in mountainous regions, snow and ice can impact road conditions. Winter tires are mandatory in some areas during the colder months.

7. No mobile phones

There are very strict regulations about distractions. Do not use your mobile phone while driving in Germany. Pull over if you need to use your device.

8. Keep your headlights on

In Germany, it's mandatory to use headlights at all times, even during the day.

These are just a handful of things to know before driving in Germany. To better prepare, our driving guides provide not only comprehensive video tutorials, but also “hands-on” experience through our 360-degree driving tours, enabling you to experience the closest thing to driving in Germany before arriving. Designed to have you driving safely and confidently, they’re the best way to prepare for driving in a foreign country. 

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