Cars and Motorcycles
Before you drive
Make sure that your tyres have the right treads. Do not drive with summer tyres in the winter, because you are much safer with winter tyres in the winter.
If you drive a moped, scooter or motorcycle, you must always wear a helmet. The same applies for the passenger.
In your car you must have a safety vest (it is even better if you have one for each passenger), a warning triangle and an up to date first aid kit.
As you drive, everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt – even the people in the backseat.
Children up to 12 years of age who are smaller than 1.5 metres are only allowed to ride in a child seat. There are various models depending on the child’s age and height. The right selection will determine your child’s safety. TIP: Inform yourself at a shop or online about which child seat is right for you. ADAC’s website offers a Kindersitz-Berater (“child seat advisor”). Wikipedia has basic information on child seats in several languages.
You, the driver
Every time you drive you must have your vehicle registration and a valid driving license with you. If you do not have a German driving license (EU), check beforehand if your driving license is recognised in Germany. For example, check with ACE, ADAC or a traffic office. HINT: An international driving license is only valid in combination with a valid national driving license.
Do not begin a journey if you are under the influence of drink, drugs or medication.
If you use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving, this not only can cause severe accidents but it will also be reported to the police and criminally processed.
Devices such as navigation systems should be safely and securely mounted.
In Germany, as in all of its neighbouring countries, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road.
In addition, there is a right lane rule on motor roads and highways. That means that one should stay as far to the right as possible and use the left lane only to pass another driver.
When passing, the permitted maximum speed must not be exceeded.
On the highway a recommended speed of 130 km/h is given. Often signs show lower maximum speeds, for example 100 km/h in construction zones and sometimes even 80 or 60 km/h. HINT: Stopping, turning and driving backwards is not allowed – in case of emergencies the right shoulder is available. In case of an accident or a traffic jam, form an emergency lane: with at least 2 lanes for one direction between the furthest left lane and the lane to the immediate right. If you missed your exit, you can simply take the next exit off of the highway and take the ramp to drive back in the opposite direction.
Rural areas have a general maximum speed of 100 km/h for cars (except on highways). Often here – especially when you approach a junction or a light – the maximum speed will be reduced to 70 km/h in certain spots.
Under the best conditions in urban areas or in the city you are allowed to drive at a max. speed of 50 km/h. The speed limit is often reduced in certain areas, for example near schools, to a max. of 30 km/h.
Driving too fast could result in a bad accident. Exceeding the maximum speed limit will be punished with high monetary fines and driving bans.
Right of way rules
If a junction does not have a light or right of way signs, the following rule applies: “right before left”.
If police officers are regulating traffic, their signals overrule all other rules. There are two main signs:
In an accident
In an emergency with injured persons, you should immediately phone the number 112.
In a non-emergency, you should phone 110 for the police.
Remain at the accident site until the police have arrived.
Whoever has damaged a parked car and cannot reach the owner should inform the police and must wait until the accident has been reported. Leaving a note is not enough.
Causing an accident and leaving the scene is considered a hit and run and will be punished with a monetary fine or imprisonment up to three years.
If your car breaks down on the highway, put on your emergency vest, set up the warning triangle and wait for help in safety behind the guardrail.
We hope you have safe travels.