If driving on the Autobahn is not on your bucket list, it should be. This iconic drive through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland is a must see if you find yourself in the area. Not only is it thrilling to drive faster than what is usually acceptable (especially in the United States), but it is a really cool story to bring up at dinner parties. That being said, it is absolutely necessary that you are fully prepared to handle this adventure because things could go downhill very fast if you are not (pun intended). Make sure to do lots of research before venturing onto the road and follow these Wrench tips to ensure that you are as prepared as possible. While we are sure you are an expert driver in the United States, the traffic laws are very different from those in Germany, and it is important that you are following their rules. Driving on the Autobahn is a once in a lifetime experience, and we want to make sure that you are prioritizing your safety and the safety of all of the other drivers on the road. Get familiar with these tips as you start to prepare for the road ahead of you.
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- Slower traffic stays on the right. We will start off with an easy one because this rule is pretty universal. If you are not planning on being the fastest car on the road, stick to the lanes on the right to avoid getting honked at, or worse. If you are on the left side and a car comes up behind you, it is not uncommon for them to flash their high beams to signal for you to (somewhat politely) get out of the way.
- Do not pass on the right. While it is important to stay on the right side if you are not in a rush, it is illegal to pass vehicles on the right. This is crucial for the Autobahn to run as smoothly as it does, so remember to get into the left lane if you need to pass anyone while driving. The one exception to this rule is during traffic jams, but it is best to assume that all passing should be done on the left.
- There actually are speed limits on the Autobahn. Contrary to popular belief, speed limits do apply when driving on the Autobahn near large cities, so it is important to be on the lookout for them. Depending on the area, speed limits will typically range from 80-130 kpm (50-80 mph) and are put in place to avoid accidents due to sharp curves or heavy traffic. Pay attention to the signs so that you know when it is appropriate to drive at whatever speed your heart desires. If you are certain that there is no speed limit, general cruising speed is around 130 kpm.
- Take a break if needed! Because the Autobahn covers essentially all of Germany, there are a number of rest stops along the way. It is important to be on high alert the entire time you are driving, so stopping to take a break can be good to recharge. Rest stops are usually equipped with restrooms, convenience stores, and restaurants, but we will warn you that the food you will encounter on the Autobahn has not won any awards. Packing a lunch might be your best bet because we trust your cooking skills more than the day old hot dogs at the gas station you are forced to stop at.
- Drive the right car. If you are planning on testing your limits and seeking out an adrenaline rush, it is important that you have the right car to maximize speed and safety. Do some research on the best car to rent and make sure you practice driving it before jumping on the Autobahn. As a general rule of thumb, it is not a great idea to push your car’s limits, so getting a car equipped to handle the speed is a good idea.
- Avoid tailgating at all costs. Out of respect and safety of everyone on the road, keep a generous distance between you and the car in front of you. Driving too close can result in a hefty fine or a fatal crash, so it is better to keep your distance. As a general rule of thumb, divide the speed you are going in half and then keep that distance between you and the car ahead of you.
- Keep your eyes peeled. Try not to get caught in your head and risk missing something going on around you. It is extremely dangerous to space out while driving, and can cause you to miss important signs. If you notice that other drivers are slowing down, it may be because there is a speed radar coming up around the next bend. Stay with traffic unless you are sure that there is no speed limit or major city coming up.
Last but not least, have fun!! While all of these tips can seem overwhelming and intimidating, we promise that you will be completely fine. Driving on the Autobahn is an experience like no other and will hopefully be a highlight of your trip. As long as you are prepared for the road in front of you, this journey will be exhilarating and unforgettable. So sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!
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