Driving in Germany

Introduction

This kicks off a series of writings on driving in different countries. While not exhaustive, it is based on my experience driving in the mentioned country. Hopefully the information will be useful to you if intend to drive in the mentioned countries.

Schloss Marburg

Driving in Germany

Germany is perhaps one of the best countries that I have driven in. It is basically petrol head heaven. It is a combination of well-built roads and beautiful scenery especially in the Bavaria region.  I thoroughly enjoyed driving there and felt very comfortable doing so. I will definitely go back there when I can.


Driving on the Left or Right

In Germany, you drive on the Right Side of the road. The driver sit on the left side of the cockpit.  You will need to Cross traffic at a junction when Turning Left.



Road Conditions

The road conditions in Germany is superb. The roads are well built and smooth. Roads are generally not very crowded except in the main business districts of major cities or at major crossings. Traffic jams are a rarity in Germany at least based on my month plus of driving all around Germany. Moving from place to place was a breeze as the Germans used lots of roundabouts instead of traffic lights to handle junctions. Hence, your vehicle will continue to move throughout the journey. There is very little delays. Do take note of road closures due to weather though.



German Autobahn

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/M%C3%BCnchberger_Senke.jpg


Autobahns

The autobahns (highways) are smooth but not necessary very wide. Two Lanes on each side of the autobahns is pretty much the standard for most of the autobahns. There are also many  fuel and rest stops along the autobahns. The toilets are free to use at this rest stops.

Derestricted Sign on Autobahn, time to release the horses!

Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d3/Zeichen_282_-_Ende_s%C3%A4mtlicher_Streckenverbote%2C_StVO_1970.svg/2000px-Zeichen_282_-_Ende_s%C3%A4mtlicher_Streckenverbote%2C_StVO_1970.svg.png 

The wonderful parts of the German autobahns is this, many parts of the autobahns are derestricted.

In other words, No. Speed. Limit.

You are free to release all the horses that you have under the bonnet. But please do so at a speed where both man and machine feel comfortable and safe. For me, while driving the Volvo V40 D3, I keep it at about 130-140km/h before I felt out of the comfort zone. While driving the Mercedes Benz C-class C180K stationwagen, I was cruising happily at 160km/h on derestricted autobahns. The local drivers in their BMW and Mercedes Benz are often cruising at 200km/h and beyond. Safety and competency is key when deciding the speed to cruise at. If in doubt, slow down and keep to the right most lane.

Do take note that at major crossings, flyovers or when approaching major cities on the autobahn, there are speed limits which can pop up suddenly. And the German police have a zero humour approach when enforcing speed limits. I have gotten a German speeding fine while on the autobahn, a speed limit of 80km/h was imposed when crossing below a flyover on the otherwise derestricted autobahn.  I was unable to slow down enough. The German police gave me a fine of 10 euros. They posted the fine together with a picture of the Merc and my face and sent it all the way to Singapore. Paying the fine from Singapore was a nightmare. In the end, I had to ask a German friend to help me pay the fine in Germany. You will have to pay the fine if you want to drive in Germany again.


Toll Matters

Based on my month plus of driving in Germany, I had not experience a toll road in Germany. The autobahns are also free. In fact, I used the German autobahns to expedite my journey when crossing from Northern Europe to Southern Europe, such as driving from Amsterdam to Munich


Fuel

German fuel prices is one of the highest in Europe. At the time of writing, Petrol unleaded is at 1.409 €/L, Diesel is at 1.199 €/L.  If you are hanging around near Austria or Luxembourg, it will be far better to refuel your tank there before entering Germany.

At the time of writing, the fuel prices is as follows:

In Austria, the price of Petrol unleaded is at 1.128 €/L, Diesel is at 1.058 €/L.

In Luxembourg, the price of Petrol unleaded is at 1.179 €/L, Diesel is at 0.999 €/L.


Safety

The Germans are very safe and friendly drivers. Not to mention very competent drivers. I have not seen a traffic accident in all my time there. Whereas in my home country, Singapore, accidents are a dime a dozen. I have not experience any tailgating, reckless driving or any monkey business on the roads in Germany. The roads are very comfortable to be on and you can be sure the Germans will give way when you signal left or right. Singapore roads are the absolute pole opposite of the Germans.

One thing to take note is that the German takes patience and giving way on the roads very seriously. I have followed a tractor on a rural German road for more than 50km.  Being the 3rd car behind the tractor, I was very tempted to overtake the tractor on the opposite incoming lane but seeing the patience of the 1st and 2nd car in front of me. I decided to wait.

While driving on the right most lane on the autobahn at 130km/h, a Mercedes Sprinter van came behind me and followed at a safe distance for a long time. After a while, I felt bad for holding up the van and accelerated into the left lane to let him pass. The Sprinter van accelerated pass me shortly in the right lane at about 170km/h. I finally know the meaning of Sprinter in Mercedes Benz Sprinter vans after that encounter. The patience of German drivers are immense.

When it comes to giving way to ambulances and fire engines, the German traffic will move mountains to part traffic for ambulances. You will witness a parting of the Red Sea when an ambulance approaches from behind. I have seen drivers driving off the road just to give way to ambulances.

Singapore drivers should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves in this aspect.


Weather

V40 D3 in snow at F├╝ssen, Bavaria

The weather of Germany is very harsh and unpredictable. Rain, snow, hail and sunny conditions can happen all in a day. Snow and hail can appear all of a sudden. Strong crosswinds can also occur on the autobahns. So always be prepared for bad weather. And if the local drivers slow down, do slow down as well.


Disclaimer

The above is written based on my limited experience driving (about a month) in many parts of Germany. Please feel free to comment or correct if you have witnessed otherwise.

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