Did You Know? – German Autobahn Facts

3 million people enjoy the weather when 37 miles of highway are closed for 6 hours.

1) For the last time, there are speed limits on the Autobahn. Autobahn translates into “highway” in English. “bahn” means “track” in German. Automakers do use portions for testing at high speeds, however, about half the highway system is governed by dynamic speed limits that change depending on weather and time of day. The advisory speed limit is 130 km/h (81 mph).

2) You can be pulled over by the highway police for driving in the left lane for too long if all the other lanes are free. The left is only reserved for passing. This is to make sure all of the road is used.

3) The first sections of the Autobahn constructed in the 20’s were named  “Reichsautobahn” (Freeways of the Reich). This was one of Hitlers dream projects after all.

4) Emergency phones are installed every 2 kilometres, and there is always a dispatcher that can speak English in the event of an emergency.

5) Be careful when flashing your high beams, it is allowed to signal the intent of passing at a safe distance, however, tailgating, flashing, and not keeping proper distance (trying to force people out of the way) can be considered coercion, and therefore a crime tried in court and could result in prison.

6) Never overtake on the right. It is illegal to do so except in traffic jams. At slower speeds, (below 60 km/h or 37 mph) you may overtake on the right if the speed difference is under 20 km/h (12 mph). Even if the car is in the left lane illegally, never try to overtake, both drivers will be pulled over and fined.

7) Never, ever, ever stop unless you have a reason to. It does after all pose a danger to the lives of others travelling at high speeds. If you run out of fuel, that is also held against you since there are petrol stations every 50-55 km (30-35 miles) along the highway. There are also over 700 motorway stations that are open 24 hours. If you break down or must stop in an emergency, position the safety triangle at 200 m from your car. This is to warn drivers who are travelling at speed well ahead of time.

8 In the event of a traffic jam, which does happen on one of the largest road networks in the world (about 12,800 km, or 7,950 miles in 2010), drivers are required to make an emergency lane in the centre by moving to the far right or left side to ensure that there is always a passage for emergency vehicles.

9) Vehicles at the rear of the traffic jam should display their hazard lights. This is to alert drivers travelling at high-speed that they will have to stop from a safe distance.

10) There is a minimum speed limit of 60 km/h. Vehicles that cannot do this speed are prohibited. Many automakers will design vehicles that are at least capable of 62 km/h for this reason. Special vehicles or large heavy cargo haulers may also display “62” signs to show they are permitted.

11) There were only 2.2 road user fatalities per billion vehicle kilometres on German Autobahns in 2008, compared to an estimated 4.5 per billion vehicle kilometres in the United States.

12) In order to receive a licence in Germany, basic first aid training is required. If you see someone in distress, you are required by law to stop and give assistance. This follows similar bystander law in many EU countries. Doctors must give aid in an emergency, even if they are not German, unless there is already medical staff present at a scene.

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