Driving in Germany is an enjoyable experience. Drivers will find that the roads are maintained and provide scenic views of the countryside. The German Autobahn or expressways are superbly engineered and offer rapid travel across the country. Those who are new to German driving should be aware of the guidelines that certify a safe car driving experience in Germany.
Germany has a diversity of cultures that can be viewed by driving across the country. The Romantic Road is a celebrated path presenting historic castles such as Neuschwanstein Castle and charming villages like the walled cities of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Heidelberg, Bamberg and Erfurt. Other German roads will lead to the German Alps in Germisch-Partenkirchen and the Munich Beer Halls. Driving to Germany's cities offers travelers a variety of economic cultures. Frankfurt is the financial hub; Hamburg is a flourishing industrial port; Dusseldorf is a fashion center and Cologne is the media focal point. Berlin has historical sites, including the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, Bundestag, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial.
Drivers will find that renting a car in Germany is similar to the process in the United States. Many of the key car rental companies and Europe are located in Germany. All German airports offer car rental services at convenient desk locations, and offices are also available in cities. Those renting a car must have a valid driver's license and passport and should plan on using a major credit card as they would provide the insurance deductible in case of an accident. The major companies allow one way car rentals. Most rental cars in Germany have manual gear shifts.
The road system in Germany is the second largest in the world and carries extensive traffic. Plus, Germany is a major conduit for European traffic from all directions. While German roads are expertly engineered, they are mostly narrower than American roads. German roads are classified from unpaved to the Autobahn. Community link roads and county roads are two lanes and join towns, while the state roads are connectors of larger towns and are labeled with an L or ST. The Federal roads are marked with B numbers such as B45. They vary from two to four lanes. Autobahns are high-speed motorways.
The Autobahn is the ultimate in driving in Germany because of its superb engineering. To ensure safe driving in the high-speed zones, Germany driving laws are enforced. Mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians are forbidden from the Autobahn as well as any vehicle that travels less than 60 kmh. Some restrictions for drivers include not passing in the right lane, keeping slow-moving vehicles in the right lane, and no U-turns, backing up, parking and stopping. Cars that are entering the Autobahn are required to yield to Autobahn traffic.
Germany accepts driving licenses from all foreign countries for six months of residence or for 12 months if the visit is temporary. Drivers are required to obtain a valid German after that time. Licenses from EU member states are accepted. Drivers should know the rules for traffic lights such as right turns on red lights are not allowed except unless there is a green right-turn arrow, and yellow lights serve as a warning signal and are used before the lights turn green. The laws prohibit the use of cell phones while driving unless it is a hands-free set. This prohibition includes stopping at traffic lights. Phones must be mounted in the car before the phone's GPS system can be used. Children under the age of 12 riding in cars must use a child safety seat.
Germany driving laws require a strict set of speed limits. Visitors may think that the Autobahn has no maximum speed limit. However, sections of the Autobahn have a specific speed limit that alternate from 80 to 130 kmh or 50 to 80 miles per hour. This is true in the areas that have sharp curves, city driving or interchanges. Construction sections may have a lowered limit of 60 kmh. If drivers go beyond the speed limit and have a vehicle accident, they are liable for any damages from the accident.
Germany road signs are clearly marked, but foreign travelers should be aware of the signs and their meanings. Most road markings are white, though the yellow markings nullify white markings. Cyclists may ride in bicycle lanes or Radweg. Drivers must stop at pedestrian crossings, called Zebrastreifen, when pedestrians are waiting to cross. The police have blinking signs of Polizei Halt or police stop and Bitte Folgen or police follow.Driving in Germany can be a positive event. Germany maintains its roads well, so any time of year can be the best time to visit Germany on a driving tour, and its byways guide visitors to striking views and historical monuments.