Germany is known as the land of the automobile. There is no general speed limit on the Autobahn (motorways). On German Autobahns the general requirement is to drive in the right lane; the law is to drive as far to the right as possible unless passing another vehicle. Private motor vehicles – with or without self-driving capacity – have cost-free access to the road network.
Types of roads
The different types of roads or highways are:
K + number (for example, K 1211) = county roads, constructed and maintained by a county.
L + number (for example, L 220) = state highways, constructed and maintained by a state.
State highway 220 street sign
B + number (for example, B 8) = Federal highways, constructed and maintained by the German Federal Government.
Federal highway 8 street sign
A + number (for example, A 8) = Autobahns (Freeways), constructed and maintained by the German Federal Government.
Autobahn 8 street sign
Autobahns that connect different countries are indicated as E + number Europastraßen (European Highways).
European Highway 65 street sign
Other public streets within communities are located within the towns and are constructed and maintained by those communities.
Tolls & driving bans
Heavy truck-type vehicle are charged a toll on all Autobahns and Federal Highways since July 1, 2018. In order to measure and charge for kilometers traveled using GPS, the so-called Toll Collect was formed.
For certain types of exhaust pollutants (for example older diesel-powered vehicles), large cities have enacted driving bans. So-called environmental zones were introduced. Vehicles are required to have a sticker on the windscreen and must comply with environmental zones. Exceptions are e-vehicles, which automatically receive green plaques.
environmental zones signs
For more information see the List of environmental zones. In these cases Autobahns and Expressways only allow vehicles with the right license plates. An exception is made for foreign license plates.
Attention: When driving into Austria or Switzerland, you must pay a toll for your personal vehicle.
In Case of Accident
If you witness an accident you must render first aid, otherwise you can be cited for withholding assistance. If you cause an accident, you should report it to the police, otherwise you can be prosecuted for leaving the scene of the accident.
Autobahn: In case of accident on the Autobahn, you can reach emergency help through calling on the orange telephone box (“Notrufsäule”).
Look to the arrows on the white posts on the side of the street, to see where the next telephone box is.
Black arrow on white post
State Highway (Landstraße): An accident involving an animal must be reported without delay to the responsible wildlife official; as a rule the simplest way to comply is to report it to the police.
Animal crossing road sign
Even minor collisions with wildlife must be promptly reported. Dead animals will be buried by the responsible game and wildlife official, while injured animals will be searched for. This official, or the police, submits a certificate about the accident to the auto insurance company for estimating the damages to be covered. You should leave injured animals where they lay, to minimize the danger to yourself. Injured animals can react very aggressively. You may not take a dead animal with you, since this constitutes illegal hunting of wildlife. It should also be borne in mind that the animal can be a carrier of dangerous diseases such as rabies.