Talking German

Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen? Driving in Germany

Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen or “speed limits” have been a controversial topic for years in Germany. While there are speed limits on sections of the German motorway system, on about 60% of the autobahn network drivers can, in theory at least, go as fast as they like.

Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzungen is one of those German words that can strike fear into the most earnest of German learners, but can be broken down quickly easily as follows:

  • Gesch-win-dig-keits: speed or velocity
  • beg-ren-zun-gen: limits

Driving Tips For the Autobahn

  • On the Autobahn, you can drive as fast as you feel is safe; the German authorities do however recommend a “suggested” speed of 130 km per hour (80mph). However, note that the Autobahn generally looks like a typical freeway.
  • You should only pass another car in the left lane. The right lane is for slower vehicles, and overtaking cars in the right lane is illegal. Unlike the United States, this is strictly adhered to.
  • Before you pull into the left lane to pass another car, make sure to check the rear view mirror carefully – some cars travel as fast as 200 km per hour and approach very suddenly.
  • You must possess a valid driving license which must be carried with you and produced on request. EU and EEA licences are accepted. If your license was issued by a country outside the EU/EEA, you can only use it for six months from your date of arrival. International Driver’s Licenses are also valid.

Important Street Signs in Germany

  • Ausfahrt – exit
  • Umleitung – detour
  • Einbahnstraße – one way street
  • Parken verboten – parking forbidden
  • Parkhaus – parking garage
  • Tankstelle – gas station
  • Benzin – gas
  • Bleifrei – unleaded gas
  • Maut – toll road

Macht Platz, fahrt rechts, und haltet bitte nicht den Verkehr auf! Make way, turn right, and please don’t stop the traffic!

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