Driving in Germany can be an exciting and rewarding experience for foreigners who are renting a car. The country is known for its well-maintained roads, efficient traffic management, and adherence to road rules. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local driving regulations and customs to ensure a safe and hassle-free journey. Here are some essential tips to help you navigate the roads of Germany:
Full guide on safe driving in Germany
In Germany, vehicles drive on the right side of the road. If you are accustomed to driving on the left side, it is crucial to pay extra attention and remain mindful of this change while driving.
Speed limits are strictly enforced in Germany. On urban roads, the general speed limit is 50 km/h, unless otherwise posted. On rural roads, the limit is usually 100 km/h, while on highways (Autobahn), certain sections may have unrestricted speed limits. However, it is important to exercise caution, adapt to road and weather conditions, and drive at a safe and reasonable speed.
Traffic lights in Germany follow the standard three-color system: red, yellow, and green. It is mandatory to stop at a red light and proceed cautiously when it turns green. Take note that some intersections may have dedicated traffic lights for bicycles and pedestrians, which should be respected.
Roundabouts, known as “Kreisverkehr” in German, are common in Germany. When entering a roundabout, yield to vehicles already inside and merge smoothly into the traffic flow. Use your turn signals to indicate your exit intention and remember to give way to pedestrians and cyclists.
Priority of Movement
In Germany, the general rule is to yield to vehicles approaching from the right, unless otherwise indicated. This applies to both intersections and when merging into traffic.
Wearing seatbelts is mandatory for all passengers, including those sitting in the back seats. Ensure that everyone in the vehicle is properly secured with seatbelts before starting your journey.
Children below the age of 12 or under a height of 150 cm must be seated in an appropriate child restraint system. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children are correctly restrained according to their age and size.
It is mandatory to use headlights at all times, even during daylight hours. However, be cautious not to use your high beams (full beams) when driving in well-lit areas or when there is oncoming traffic.
Using a mobile phone while driving without a hands-free device is strictly prohibited in Germany. Make sure to use a hands-free system or pull over to a safe location if you need to make or receive calls.
Germany has strict alcohol limits for drivers. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.05%, and for novice drivers or professional drivers, the limit is even lower at 0.00%. It is advisable to avoid any alcohol consumption if you are planning to drive.
Germany is renowned for its well-maintained road network. However, it is still essential to stay vigilant and adapt to changing road conditions, especially during adverse weather conditions. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and adjust your driving style accordingly.
Germany does not have a general toll system for cars on highways. However, there are some specific road sections, bridges, or tunnels that require a toll payment. Research your route in advance to determine if any tolls apply and plan accordingly.
Fuel stations are readily available throughout Germany, particularly along major highways. Most stations accept credit cards, but it is advisable to carry some cash as well, especially when visiting smaller or rural areas where card payment may not be universally accepted.
When driving in Germany, always carry your valid driver’s license, passport or ID, and proof of insurance. If you are renting a car, ensure you have the necessary rental agreement and contact details of the rental company.
In case of emergencies, dial 112, a universal emergency number across the European Union. For non-urgent issues related to your vehicle, you can contact the general road assistance number, ADAC, at +49 180 222 2222.
Driving in Germany as a foreigner can be an enjoyable experience if you familiarize yourself with the local traffic regulations and customs. Remember to drive responsibly, respect the rules of the road, and be considerate towards other drivers. By following these guidelines, you can have a safe and memorable journey exploring the beautiful landscapes and cities of Germany.