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Driving Etiquette: Common Courtesies on the Road Everyone Should Follow in Germany

Unlimited speed on the way: this is probably the thing that everyone knows about the specifics of driving in Germany. However, this is not valid on certain sections, so that drivers are trapped by automatic speed cameras. German speed limits, blood alcohol level, driving licenses in Germany, parking, environmental zones… Here is everything you need to know to drive in Germany.

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Germany Speed Limits


The following speed limits apply unless otherwise stated. As everywhere, road signs can determine a specific maximum speed. In the event of poor visibility (less than 50 m), the maximum speed is reduced to 50 km/h. This rule also applies if your vehicle is equipped with chains.

  • Urban areas: 50 km/h
  • Main axess: 100 km/h
  • German motorways: no limitation

Stay alert on the highway. Admittedly, the majority of Autobahn sections allow you to push your vehicle to its limits. But some sections are subject to a limitation, and often they are monitored by automatic speed cameras. A distraction can be very expensive! And if the Germans decide to reduce the speed there, there must be a security reason. This can be a construction site, a regularly congested area, highway entrances and exits, etc.

Specificities Of The German Highway Code

In Germany, it is not allowed to turn right when the traffic light is red, unless a green arrow authorizes such a maneuver.

Drinking and driving: the limit is set at 0.05%, but new drivers (driving license for less than 2 years) and drivers under 21 must abstain completely. Please note that the fine for drinking and driving in Germany is €250, even for a small excess of the authorized threshold.

  • You must always yield to emergency vehicles, whether the siren is sounding or not.
  • All children under 12 and under 1.5m must be seated in a booster seat in the back. Sixt rents baby and child seats.
  • In winter, snow or all-season tires are mandatory. If you do not respect the rule, you are liable to a fine of 60 €. Studded tires are prohibited in Germany.
  • Most of the time, if you are caught red-handed you must pay the fine immediately. In case of refusal, the vehicle is immobilized.
  • If you ride a motorcycle in Germany, you must always ride with your headlights on.

The Plakette For Traveling In Restricted Traffic Zones


Some German cities have set up restricted traffic zones. The equivalent of the Crit’air sticker is the “plakette”. Driving in ZCR without a placard exposes you to a fine of €80. You can obtain this ecological sticker from Dekra technical control centers and authorized garages. If you drive your own car in Germany, the easiest way is probably to order your plaquette online via the Berlin City Hall website (in English): order online plakette via the Berlin City Hall.

You will simply have to provide a copy of your vehicle’s gray card and pay a fee of €6. The badge is valid in all German cities. Sixt rental vehicles in Germany are of course in good standing with the environmental sticker.

Driving In Germany: Things To Know


It is important to keep to the right on the motorway in France, but it is even more so on German motorways because of the absence of speed limits. If you’re the type who prefers to drive quietly at 120 or 130 km/h, you’ll be in the way of people if you don’t fall back. And If you are on the left and you are suddenly flashed by the headlights, this means that you are blocking the lane: fall back as soon as possible.

If you want to overtake from the middle lane, pay attention to what comes on the left lane. Some cars drive very fast.

The German police can arrest you, in particular via messages broadcast on a luminous panel. “Polizei Halt” means you have to stop, “Bitte Folgen” means you have to follow the police vehicle.

German drivers use their hazard warning lights to signal a slowdown or a traffic jam. Adopt this reflex: given the absence of speed limits on German motorways, warning drivers who are traveling at 200 km/h or more is crucial for everyone’s safety.

Driving In Town And Parking


It is only as impressive as in the Netherlands, but in Germany there are also a lot of bicycles circulating in urban areas. Pay attention to cycle paths and their users. Also be careful when getting out of your vehicle. Check that no cyclist is approaching to avoid a collision when you open the door.

Please note that there are many 30 km/h zones in German cities. Local drivers may be heavy-footed on the highway, but in town they behave very defensively. Imitate them: speed differences are the cause of many accidents. In addition, there are many speed cameras. Driving at 50 km/h in a 30 zone can therefore lead to a hefty fine.

Many German cities have developed an app-based public parking payment system (Pango, EasyPark, etc.). If you are driving in cities such as Berlin, Cologne or Hamburg, do your research beforehand so that you are prepared.

Other Documents And Equipment Needed For Driving In Germany

In addition to your driving license, you will need to take with you:

  • A proof of insurance
  • Your identity card or passport
  • The vehicle registration document

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