Before travelling by car abroad it’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with local road laws and regulations. The rules for driving in Germany are particularly strict on speed, safety and drink-driving.
We’ve created this handy infographic to give you a quick idea of things you need to check before driving in Germany:
1. Drive on the Right
Much like when UK drives take a road trip over to France, after a lifetime of driving on the left it can be tricky to start driving on the “wrong” side of the road, particularly if the car you’re driving is a German hire car… meaning the gear stick will feel like it’s on the wrong side. If you’re an experienced driver it shouldn’t take you too long to adapt.
2. Speed limits can change depending on the weather conditions
On UK roadways variable speed limits displayed on the matrix system are becoming more commonplace, but traditionally on home soil there has been a pre-defined speed limit which was dependant on the type of road. When driving in Germany, unless otherwise stated, the speed limit changes depending on the weather conditions. If the conditions are anyway poor or dangerous, such as rain or ice being present, you should assume the maximum speed limit is reduced.
It’s important to also keep in mind that the German Autobahn has no federally mandated speed limit for some classes of vehicles, except for urban or particualrly built up areas. It’s safest to check the specific stretch of road you’ll be travelling on.
3. Drink-Driving Laws in Germany
The blood alcohol limit is 0.5 grams per litre for experience drivers in Germany, whereas for novice drivers (less than 2 years driving experience) the limit is 0.0. This reflects a zero tolerance policy on drink driving, so please remember to act accordingly, regardless of your level of driving experience.
4. Drivers in Germany are not permitted to use headsets or headphones
It is prohibited under German road laws for drivers to wear headsets; this includes any device attached to the ear, such as headphones. Devices like this are supposed to inhibit your ability to hear external sounds and also be distracting. Bluetooth or devices integrated into motorcycle helmets are still permitted under German law.
5. Common Minor Offences for German Drivers
Not Wearing a Seatbelt – Getting caught driving without a seatbelt in Germany carries a 30 Euro fine. Protect yourself and your wallet, always wear a seatbelt when driving, regardless of which country you’re in.
Safety Belts for Children – Children 3 years and over must be transported on the rear seats of vehicles. A child under 12 years of age and measuring less than 1.50m travelling in any type of vehicle must be seated in a child seat or child restraint. Where a child restraint/seat is not available, a child 3 years and over must use a seat belt or other safety device attached to the seat. A child under 3 years old may not be transported in a vehicle without child restraint/seat (thanks to the RAC for this succinct information!)