“You should move over,” said my passenger. I respond, “Move over? Nobody is behind me and I’m flying…” I had been driving on the Autobahn for a day or so and I already thought I knew everything! I’d been legally speeding for well over an hour as we blazed towards Austria at 220kph. Why should I move over? Such a newbie move… If you’re heading over to Europe with giddy excitement to drive all out on the no-speed-limit Autobahn, keep reading to get the info you need to not look like an a**hole on the Autobahn.
Obey the Speed Limits
Contrary to popular belief, the Autobahn DOES have speed limits. In fact, they’re well posted and setup in a way that you slow down in stages and speed up progressively to ensure good traffic flow. This is the magic sign, the No limit sign. There was a heavenly hymn (or was that just in my head?) whenever this sign appeared. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere -the speed limit progressively builds up to no limit – most often on long straights. The signs will also slow you down progressively, to keep traffic flow consistent. Stay within the limits, not over and not under. Not once did we see any “traffic” nor did we see any accidents in the 2 weeks of driving we did. I would definitely advocate for this progressive traffic design to be in more places.
The “Fast Lane” is for Passing ONLY
It doesn’t matter if you’re in an Audi RS6 or a 1000HP Brabus Mercedes, lane 1 should be used for passing only. I sat in this lane for well over an hour, figuring that since nobody was behind me so it should be fine right? Nope, ALWAYS keep this lane open.
Germans take their driving seriously; I really wish Americans drove this way. Not once did I glance down at my phone, try and change the station or eat food. You’d never see this of other drivers, which makes a lot of sense when you’re bombing down the freeway at 200KPH+. Rely on your passengers to navigate and use the phone or better yet, make sure you get a car with built in Navi.
You would think this would be second nature, but here in America it’s not. On the Autobahn, it’s particularly important due to speed – to let people in when they signal to get in as they may be simply trying to get out of the way of other, faster vehicles. If you’ve got a “slower” vehicle, keep right.
Be Prepared for Any Kind of Weather, the Cars and Roads Are
We hit every kind of weather during our trip this Fall. Excellent cool weather, but also rain and even snow. The Autobahn is so well kept up and engineered, inclement weather does not impact drivers the same way it would in the states. Fresh rain and snow did not slow anyone down and we even noticed (after the fact) that our rental BMW was equipped with winter tires. The Autobahn is serious business, we’re simply guests enjoying the opportunity to drive on such a magnificent road. By sticking to the general rules of the road as well as these specifics, you’ll ensure both a fun and exciting first trip down the Autobahn.