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The German autobahn – a modern time driving adventure

Updated: Mar 9

The fascination around the German highway system was always formed by the promise of absolute driving freedom until modern times. But the biggest myth is that there are no speed limits on the autobahn. In reality today pretty much fifty percent of the autobahn network is subject to a speed limit. What leads to the question where to get the best driving experience on the autobahn in Germany? Or is there a ready to go option?

Beside the good road quality of Germany's highway network and only a few speed limits on the autobahn there is another reason making Germany so popular for driving - it shares border with nine other countries. It is the absolute norm to see cars on plates from all over Europe using Germany as a transit route. While Germans pay tolls everywhere else once they cross on of those border – Germanys road system remains free for vehicle below 7,5 tons.

No wonder that endless debates in online forums worldwide have tackled the issue of when and where to drive the German autobahn and reading through those endless comments makes one thing very clear - the question is not easy answered. Constant road updates and constructions are necessary to keep the autobahn in tact. What looks perfect for driving today, can be a total traffic trap tomorrow. The obvious is to avoid the coldest month of the year, which are: December to February – nobody wants a holiday on ice kind of driving experience.

However, it has to be said – no matter how well you research: the perfect stretch of autobahn simply doesn’t exist. And the credo of everyone planning to drive the autobahn should be: make the autobahn part of the journey and not the main attraction of your trip.

The official advisory speed limit by the German government of 130 kmph is not binding unless indicated otherwise. Whenever you see the round end-of-all-bans sign with three black lines over a white background – the road is yours. But keep in mind that for the car you approach on the autobahn with anything above 100 kmph you appear in the back mirror out of nowhere. Also in Germany, reckless driving has consequences.

With this being said, here a few de-restricted stretches you might want to incorporate in your autobahn driving tour planning:

A14 – between Leipzig and Dresden

A44 - between Dortmund and Kassel

A24 - between Berlin and Hamburg

A9 – between Berlin and Leipzig

A6 – between Frankfurt am Main and Freiburg

A7 – between Aalen und Wuerzburg

The longest de-restricted stretch of autobahn is 150 kilometers long on the A24 between Hamburg and Berlin. Travelling at the recommended speed of 130 kmph the journey would be completed in a little over an hour.

While on the autobahn, buckle up and obey the following safety rules:

Rule No. 1 always has been: overtaking on the right is strictly forbidden.

The left lane is the fast lane. It is illegal to use this lane if you don’t overtake slower traffic at the time. Once you have completed the overtaking process move back into the right lane. In general you can say overtaking is completed once you get a full frontal view of the overtaken car in your rear-view mirror.

Every driver in Germany learns a simple method to keep the right distance. Fix a point on the roadside and start counting: “21,22” when the car in front has reached that point. If you reach that point before you’ve finished counting your distance is too small.

If someone behind you flashes his beams you’re probably are too slow and hold up faster traffic. Swallow your ego and move back onto the right. Don’t get angry, there will always be somebody feeling more confident than you do.

This is essential! Every time you change lanes, do yourself a big favour and perform the “Schulterblick” – means: always take a look over your shoulder and check for oncoming traffic from behind. At the same time check your side- and back mirror before making any dangerous moves. Avoid missing any AMG Mercedes or Porsche driving into your blind spot with 200+ km per hour.

Use your indicators. Whenever you have to break hard or you approach the end of a traffic jam make sure you use your hazards lights to warn drivers behind you and they have a chance to slow down. 

Obey the speed limits. Driving at a high speed should not result in missing upcoming road signs, by no means you should miss any of them - if you did you've been too fast.

Go with the flow. If you’re a newcomer to the autobahn simply blend in with the traffic and do what the locals do. That way you might also avoid an expensive souvenir produced by a speed camera.

Another myth is that the autobahn is one of the deadliest roads in the world. In fact US interstates - with speed limits of 70 mph - have an average of 4.5 fatalities per billion kilometres travelled, the Autobahn only has a fatality rate of 2.7 per billion kilometres. Reasons are the strict enforcement of the above rules and German drivers have to complete an intense driving training that costs around EUR 2000.

Also good to know - even that Germany knows no speed limit for derestricted zones of highway, speeding can result in being held responsible for accidents when being over the advisory limit of 130 kmph, even it was not the drivers fault.

On the German autobahn and as always in life, being responsible is key. The best driving experience will have who read this article to the end and lets it sink in before going on one of the last modern-time adventures to Germany.

Epikdrives offers a Autobahn driving tour, starting from Munich in the supercar of your dreams. Combining some of the best stretches of German autobahn with the most iconic sights along the route including one of Germany’s best known landmarks: the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

Car enthusiasts will be more interested in the four major German automobile museums covered on the multi day driving tour. Including the maybe most iconic of all carmaker museums worldwide: the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen with over eighty vehicles on 5600 sqm. Only a twenty minutes car ride away lays the home to the Mercedes Collection in Stuttgart showcasing 125 years of automobile history over impressive nine levels and 16500 sqm. Should you plan your own trip, be aware that both museums remain closed on Monday’s.

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