to think we will be fine driving on German motorways

(51 Posts)
MrsMcColl Wed 09-Jul-14 15:34:00

Going on holiday to Germany this summer. Driving there from the UK via tunnel. I'm a fairly confident and experienced driver, and just assumed we'd take the motorway from France, across Belgium and into Germany. We're heading for Koblenz.

Several friends though have seemed surprised we'd take German motorways, telling me they are faster and scarier than British ones. I hadn't been concerned before - but should I be? I've driven a fair bit in France - should we aim to do most of the journey in France rather than Belgium and Germany?

Anyone done it and want to advise/warn/reassure?

fluffydoge Wed 09-Jul-14 15:40:06

Your friends are talking shit. Just go the fastest route you'll be fine.

Step Wed 09-Jul-14 15:40:58

Decent standard of driving but fast, although there are only a few limitless Autobahns there now. If you're doing more than 120kph and the other driver is doing less, you're automatically at fault. Most of what you're going to drive on A1 is speed restricted. You'll be fine.
Remember the slip roads are shorter though.... need to build speed fast compared to UK.

ThingyTheBusCleaner Wed 09-Jul-14 15:43:35

I live in the area you are talking about.

You will notice that German drivers are faster, but they are also safe.

70mph you'll be in the slow lane being overtaken by juggernauts smilesmile

I've done 90mph in the slow lane in rush hour frequently - 120 or 130mph in the fast lane is not unusual.

If you are a competent, confident driver you'll be fine. Just check your mirrors a lot before you pull out to overtake. Surprising how quickly a car doing 100mph is right on you...

mousmous Wed 09-Jul-14 15:46:05

it will be fine.
just be aware that 'middle lane hogging' is illegal and can land you in trouble.
be extra careful adjusting the side mirrors so that you have the best possible view range. and look over the shoulder a lot.
oh, and check your car insurance that you are actually covered driving on the continent.

mousmous Wed 09-Jul-14 15:46:06

it will be fine.
just be aware that 'middle lane hogging' is illegal and can land you in trouble.
be extra careful adjusting the side mirrors so that you have the best possible view range. and look over the shoulder a lot.
oh, and check your car insurance that you are actually covered driving on the continent.

ThingyTheBusCleaner Wed 09-Jul-14 15:46:07

A1 is fine but avoid the A3 if you can in rush hour, it's one of the busiest stretches of motorway in Europe.

As step says, the slip roads are short, so you need to be quite 'positive' about getting up to speed to join.

And people do come up behind you quite fast, so be extra careful about pulling out into the fast lane, specially as the driver is on the 'wrong' side of the car.

But I don't think any of that is reason enough to avoid them, just pick what looks like a sensible route on the map.

PopcornFrenzy Wed 09-Jul-14 15:47:31

I lived in Germany for 10 years and loved driving on the Autobahns, yep they're a lot faster but seem to be a lot safer than UK roads.

Make sure you have the correct kit in your car like a first aid kit, don't forget to put light stickers on your headlights if you need them.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 15:55:04

It's fine, you don't have to join in unless you want too, or you have to keep up with a colleague from the army, who drives like the locals.

blubirdy Wed 09-Jul-14 16:00:42

If you've driven French motorways, and even Belgian ones, then driving the German ones will be a vast improvement. Yes they are faster, but I much prefer the polite and orderly German motorways to the hideous chaos of the French ones. And what is it with Belgian motorways and constant construction work on them? No, give me the orderly (but fast) German motorways any day!

Someone was telling me recently there are no speed restrictions on German motorways?

How can this be?? confused

MissWimpyDimple Wed 09-Jul-14 16:02:53

Absolutely fine driving in Germany. Only thing is the slip roads. They don't use roundabouts so they often have unusual cross over slip roads. You are joining the motorway on the same small stretch of road that others are exiting.
I love driving in Germany. It's about a million times better than France. The bulk of your journey will be Belgium and the Brussels ring road is a bit scary!

VodkaJelly Wed 09-Jul-14 16:05:53

I have driven on the German Motorways, was a few years ago but dont remember anything about them being scary. It must have been fine otherwise I would have remembered it.

Deliaskis Wed 09-Jul-14 16:12:21

Agree with others, would choose German motorways over French, Italian, Spanish, pretty much anywhere else to be honest.

Watch the slip roads tho!

Pumpkinpositive On some stretches of some german motorways there is no speed limit.

But if you crash at over about 70mph (can't do the maths for the km equivalent) apparently your insurance company can take it into account, so people tend not to be complete idiots about it.

ThingyTheBusCleaner Wed 09-Jul-14 16:22:45

AMum it's about 110kph.

I'd say most people stick to 120kph. However 160kph (100 mph) is perfectly usual. "Fast" is anything over 180kph and I've occasionally seen 200kph and above.

UncleT Wed 09-Jul-14 16:32:51

Motorways there are fine - tell your friends to sod off with the scaremongering. DO take care on the slip roads as others have mentioned already though.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Wed 09-Jul-14 16:37:54

German autobahns are fab. Really fast. Two lanes; it's your responsibility to look out for people pulling out to overtake if you're in the overtaking lane and don't even think of hogging it for a nanosecond. We should do the same here... <wistful>

Amateurish Wed 09-Jul-14 16:43:00

Don't be concerned, your friends are wrong.

Watch your speed in Belgium, they are very strict on limits.

parallax80 Wed 09-Jul-14 18:33:47

I've driven from Austria through Germany and France back to UK and was really REALLY nervous about it - not least because it was someone else's car! It was fine, although echoing what others have said, you do need to make sure you join the Autobahn at a decent speed.

CMOTDibbler Wed 09-Jul-14 18:41:54

The only time I've been scared driving on the autobahn was when I ended up with a tiny fiat as my hire car. Otherwise it is dead easy

Bushbb Wed 09-Jul-14 18:48:05

they are fine - most are 2-3lanes and like people have said watch when you pull out to overtake.

I drove to frankfurt and love the last bit of the drive as its 5 lanes - in dry conditions i am one of the 200KM per drivers

today I drove back and it was raining - people drove at closer to 100 and kept their distance

KiaOraOAotearoa Wed 09-Jul-14 18:48:28

Dead easy, very orderly, proper signs, polite drivers, absolute joy smile i love the Autobahn smile

AphraBane Wed 09-Jul-14 18:52:17

"If you're doing more than 120kph and the other driver is doing less, you're automatically at fault."

I believe that kicks in at 130 kph, not 120. It's called the Richtgeschwindigkeit. I've never noticed German drivers sticking to 130 if they could go faster, though. The speed in the 'fast' lane on roads with no limit tends to be around 160kph.

"just be aware that 'middle lane hogging' is illegal and can land you in trouble". I've not heard of anybody being prosecuted for this alone, but it certainly annoys drivers immeasurably. What is very strictly regulated is the amount of time you're allowed to stay in the other lane when overtaking - I think it's 30 seconds for cars and 45 seconds for lorries. That can be tricky if you've got a car with a small engine or are heavily loaded down.

The real nightmare on German roads are the lorries, because there are so many drivers on their way through from east to west Europe and back again. When one lorry tries to overtake another it blocks two lanes of a motorway (the phenomenon is called Elefantenrennen, or elephant racing), which only then leaves the third 'fast' lane for cars to overtake - but the speed there is 160 so you have about 5 seconds to overtake the middle-lane lorry before some arse in an Audi gets within 5 metres of you (not an exaggeration) and starts flashing lights.

And sometimes the lack of speed limit is an irrelevance anyway, because traffic jams can be horrendous. Can you speak any German? Because the main news radio stations always broadcast a traffic summary with the main jams and our car radio has a traffic programme on it so it automatically switches to the traffic report - if we're just about to approach the A9, for example, and hear that there's a 10 km tailback, we'll reprogramme the satnav to find an alternative route for a few junctions and go off-autombahn.

BitOutOfPractice Wed 09-Jul-14 18:57:24

You'll be fine in Germany. Avoid Belgoum as much as poss-their roads are noticably crap compared to their neighbours!

Sorry Belgium. Great country. Brilliant beer. Crap roads!

blubirdy Wed 09-Jul-14 19:12:19

You'll be fine in Germany. Avoid Belgoum as much as poss-their roads are noticably crap compared to their neighbours!

I can actually close my eyes (as a passenger, lol) and just know the very second I cross the border into Belgium as the motorways in Belgium are like big blocks of concrete, joined together with bumpy seams, so the car makes a "thump thump thump thump" sound every couple of seconds as it goes over the concrete "seam" on the surface. No, give me Germany every time. Actually, come to think of it, I would go as far as to say that Germany offers the best driving in Europe.

Another good German habit/thing that I've noticed a few times, German drivers are ever so polite when there are maintenance crews working on the roads. The 160kmph speeds go wayyyy down to 60-70kmph, with safe distances, manners and common sense applied by drivers. Either it's politeness on the part of the drivers, or the penalties are very harsh for racing past road maintenance crews at murderous speeds. Either way, it's nice to witness.

MeganBacon Wed 09-Jul-14 19:43:36

You'll be fine, but bear in mind that people like my German DH regularly drive at 250 km/h on the motorway so check mirrors a zillion times before changing lane.
Also the slip roads on/off can be confusing compared to ours.
But basically you'll be fine.

MrsMcColl Wed 09-Jul-14 19:57:58

Thanks all. Am sure I can do this...! (I don't think I can avoid Belgium though.)

Billygoats Wed 09-Jul-14 20:06:02

Regular driver through Germany Netherlands Belgium and France and absolutely no problems. No different to British drivers, you get the good and the bad drivers.

Make sure you have a breathalyser, high vis vest, fire extinguisher, spare bulbs kit, warning triangle for these countries.

Expatmomma Wed 09-Jul-14 20:12:07

I live in Germany too smile))

The German motorways are miles better than the Belgian ones.

The Belgian ones are full of potholes!!!!

In Germany the motorways are so much quieter than the UK. I love them and am a slow driver.

If there is no speed limit yes cars will zoom past, but there are many places where speed limits are in force and everyone trundles along keeping to the limit.

I find British motorways far more stressful and dangerous. I guess it's the sheer level of traffic.

The motorways are generally in rural areas and many have good views.

I hope you have a great holiday in this land I have fallen in love with smile)

SwedishEdith Wed 09-Jul-14 20:17:29

I must admit I did find it quite, er, exhilarating driving in Germany - definitely felt faster. I thought the roads weren't in great condition though compared to France

IamSlave Wed 09-Jul-14 20:40:41

I've done 90mph in the slow lane in rush hour frequently - 120 or 130mph in the fast lane is not unusual


IamSlave Wed 09-Jul-14 20:41:54

* I guess it's the sheer level of traffic

Yep, its just old choc block shite UK who has shit motorways.

StrawberryTree Wed 09-Jul-14 20:45:49

We thought the car was breaking down first time we used a Belgium motorway. The Autobahn was a pleasure after that.

starving Wed 09-Jul-14 21:00:45

We flew into Germany and then drove to Austria a couple of years ago. The driving was fine. I remember something about my satnav speed camera notifications had to be turned off, not sure if that was Austria or Germany. Certainly no scarier than certain parts of Britain.

CarbeDiem Wed 09-Jul-14 21:22:22

I regularly drive through Germany on the A1/E2. The autobahn itself is a pleasure to drive on as it's so well maintained, like anywhere else in the world there are some idiots but no more than you'd see elsewhere.
Big yes to checking your mirrors a million times before overtaking. Agree the numbers of big trucks are a pain in the bloody arse as are the short slip lanes but you get used to it quite quickly.

I've never gone as far as Belgium, we go to Holland for the ferry to uk, don't think I ever want to now after you guys on thread universally agree their roads are shite - although I find it hard to imagine anywhere beating some of Polands older roads.

Oh and if you're travelling with dc or indeed just adults. Make sure you're carrying enough water and distractions in case you get stuck in traffic. Once we got stuck for 6 hours pretty much at a complete standstill and a crawl.
Dh still hasn't forgiven me for slightly weeing on the passenger seat while having to pee in a bottle in said traffic jam - I'm unrepentant as there was nowhere else to go grin

spanieleyes Wed 09-Jul-14 21:35:55

I love european motorways ( except Belgian ones!) as they are generally free flowing and ultra smooth! Remember to return to the "slow" lane after overtaking, lane hogging is frowned upon and European drivers tend to nip in and out of lanes at great speed.

londonrach Wed 09-Jul-14 21:52:21

German driving is much quicker than france. If you go into Austria whilst there you have to visit their motorway services....

chloechloe Wed 09-Jul-14 21:52:31

I live in Germany. It's not unusual to see people doing 200-250km/h where there is no limit. The most important thing when you are in the fast lane is to move over immediately as soon as somebody comes up behind you. You should not delay even for a milisecond or they'll be cursing you. Also the sliproads often go off at quite sharp angles.

Where there are speed limits in place, don't think the police will turn a blind eye to speeding just because they generally drive fast. They will fine you if you're more than 10% over.

All in all though the roads over here are much safer than in the UK despite the high speeds!

PicardyThird Wed 09-Jul-14 23:59:02

Where there's no limit, my German dh will often do 160 km/h, sometimes creeping up to 190 (if I don't notice and start saying 'that's fast ENOUGH' blush ) and he is by no means the fastest on the road. Yy to what everyone says about frequent lane-changing. There is the Rechtsfahrgebot, which means you have to drive in the furthest-right lane that's available apart from when overtaking. Most drivers are good about keeping reasonable distance, but they will come roaring up at some speed, so check, check and check again.

Welshcake77 Thu 10-Jul-14 08:45:25

I agree with what everyone else has said but just thought of something you should check out before you go if you are going to be driving in and out of a city. I live near Frankfurt and there is an environmental zone around the city which starts on the autobahn. You need to have a sticker in your car which shows it meets the pollution standards set. You can order and pay for them online (my parents did this before driving over here) have a look here to see if the area you will be driving in requires one

doradoo Thu 10-Jul-14 09:09:53

YY to all the previous posters - think those who don't live here are underestimating the speeds though - upwards of 100mph on unrestricted stretches is very normal and you will be passed by many going superfast -even after living and driving here for years some of the speeds worry me (and I say this as someone happy to bomb it along at 160-180kmh)

Also watch out for tailgating - the germans love to sit on your bumper - even though it is illegal.

Make sure you don't hog the outside lane.......

Also if you can time your journey for saturday pm/sunday there won't be many lorries on the german roads as only those with fresh foods are allowed to drie then - as a result though any services will be chocker with lorries.

On the traffic the work 'stau' (pronounced shtow) is the work for jam - usually followed by a number.

Generally though it's very much a 'drivers country' the roads are well maintained and well signposted (usually!)

mumtosome61 Thu 10-Jul-14 09:15:33

Love roads in Germany. Would take them over Belgian roads any day!

Have an awesome time smile

AmberLav Thu 10-Jul-14 09:19:50

I wish we had some of the rules from the Autoban here in this country, like pulling into the slow lane if you can when you see a faster driver coming up from behind (I think technically we do, but most seem to ignore)...

Huge stretches of Autoban have lower speed limits, particularly when it is raining etc... so watch for those, as I think Germany can be a bit strict on speed limits too, when they apply...

nigerdelta Thu 10-Jul-14 09:34:39

250 kph is insane.

bigdog888 Thu 10-Jul-14 16:50:09

250 kph is insane

Not really - it's only 156mph. Quite possibly at that speed you'd have someone flashing their lights wanting to come past. I've driven at that speed in the UK before now. Where traffic and conditions allow I'd expect to be knocking on the door of 180mph on certain de-restricted sections of autobahn.

MrsMcColl Thu 10-Jul-14 17:09:16


MrsMcColl Thu 10-Jul-14 17:10:27

Oh just noticed who it is. Ha ha bigdog.

bigdog888 Thu 10-Jul-14 17:12:20


MrsMcColl Thu 10-Jul-14 17:24:36

Have noticed you before on driving threads.

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