Safety on the Autobahns

Drive safely. That’s a great rule of thumb, especially when you’re on the German Autobahns, except that the thumb has been pressing on a lot of safety “do’s and don’ts”. This post will highlight the fundamentals of driving safely on the Autobahns.

Know the Limit

Contrary to popular belief, there are speed limits on the Autobahns. The introduction of the national speed limit motorways has been on the political agenda of different road, safety, and environmental groups for decades. However, the debate took on a new form a few years back when studies revealed a co-relation between high speeds and accidents, and hence the autobahn safety in Germany, speed limits have been set across the autobahns.

Though many places still allow drivers to pick whatever speed they feel comfortable at, various areas will dictate the speed limit, prominent examples include motorway junctions, construction sites, etc. In case there are no speed limits on the Autobahn, you should still be cruising around 130km/h.

Know the Lanes — Drive In the One Meant For You

The left lane on the autobahn is meant solely for driving fast, extremely fast. You are bound to find various luxury cars, and fast sports cars and convertible zipping at 240km/h and more (making Cologne-Frankfurt a 50 minute drive) without being booked by the police. It is common to see some form of “lane bullying” from fast drivers who usually bully slow movers to the next lane with incessant dippers (headlight flashing) and indignant honking.

Therefore, unless you have a fast car and can control high speeds, it is advised that you keep your visits to the very left lane brief. Know your speed and shift to the right lane early on, if you see a car speeding behind you, as at times it becomes difficult to switch lanes when other drivers are just adjacent to you.

Be Distant — Never Tailgate

Tailgating is dangerous, and though you may have been on the receiving end of it and experienced the added pressure of switching lanes, the same pressure can lead to loss of control and hence accidents. Furthermore, it is a form of bullying that is punishable under German law —250€ in penalty after you driving license has been revoked.

The safety distance suggested by the authorities can be calculated (approximately) by dividing the speed you are driving your car at by 2. The value should be used as the distance (in meters) between you and the car in front.

Stay Awake — Speed Up!

The autobahns are meant for long journeys, and it often happens that drivers (exhausted or what not) might doze off at the monotony of the entire journey. Keep yourself awake with whatever best suits your needs — a dose of caffeine every few miles, a talkative friend, or good old music. Just stay awake and take the turns on the road yourself.

Pass Left — and Stay Safe

Passing other vehicles is only allowed on the left side on German roads. Period. It’s what the traffic laws state, and doing otherwise is punishable by the same laws.