Drivers learn the rules of the German road when they prepare for the test to get their U.S. Forces Certificate of License. But sometimes it’s difficult to remember every rule, especially for those who stick to the same routes or don’t drive often.
“The biggest weakness that we see is not knowing the right before left rule at unmarked intersections,” said Michael Leyba, transportation specialist with the garrison’s Driver Training and Testing Station.
When in doubt, refer to the Drivers Handbook and Examination Manual for Germany, AE Pamphlet 190-34. The following refresher may be useful for new as well as seasoned drivers.
Did you know…
If there is no sign at an intersection, vehicles coming from the right have the right of way.
At a red light, drivers must stop before the white stripe painted across the lane and may not turn right on red unless a green arrow is attached to the right of the main light. In this case, the driver must still come to a complete stop and ensure the road is clear before making the turn.
Working traffic lights take priority over signs.
Contrary to popular belief, there are speed limits on many stretches of Germany’s autobahns. Even when no speed limit is posted, the recommended limit is 130 kph (81 mph) for cars. This limit applies to an experienced driver under ideal conditions. If a driver going faster than 130 kph is in an accident, they will be held liable.
If no sign is posted, the speed limit within city limits is generally 50 kph (31 mph).
Many residential zones and business districts have a speed limit of 30 kph (18 mph).
The speed limit on U.S. military installations is 30 kph (18 mph), unless otherwise posted.
Speed limit rules differ for buses, trucks and vehicles with trailers.
Some intersections and roads have cameras programmed to catch drivers running a red light or speeding. When that happens, drivers can expect to receive a fine in the mail and may lose driving privileges.
German law requires passing drivers to leave at least 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) between their vehicle and a person on a bicycle.
It is against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.
Drivers must remove snow and ice from windows before driving.
The USAREUR license is only valid in Germany. Drivers need an international driver’s license outside the country.
The Drivers Handbook reminds Americans they can drive safely in Europe by driving defensively, staying sober, being alert and courteous, maintaining their vehicles and becoming familiar with the local traffic laws and driving customs.
Quick conversion for kph to mph:
Multiply the kilometers by 6 and drop the last digit of the result to get a close estimate
30 kph = 18 mph
50 kph = 31 mph
80 kph = 50 mph
100 kph = 62 mph
120 kph = 75 mph
130 kph = 81 mph