The Autobahn: Germany’s Race Track for Everyday Drivers

cr 52d7f1b86544aeb13eebedce3ddbf96d AutobahnThe famous German autobahns are renowned for being among the few public road systems in the world with significant sections of roadway without posted speed limits for cars and motorbikes. In 1938, Rudolf Caracciola attained a speed of 432 km/h (268 mph) on the autobahn that set a new worlds land speed record. His speed remains one of the highest off-tract, public roadway speeds ever achieved.  Known as Bundesautobahnen (federal expressways) these roadways form the German national or “interstate” road system. In fact, the autobahn system was the first limited-access, high-speed road network in the world. Today, it is third longest national highway system in the word behind the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) of China and the U.S. Interstates.
During the late 1920s under Weimar Republic, the idea for the construction of a federal highway system was proposed but found little political support. Nevertheless, a private consortium began construction of a Frankfurt am Main to Basel autobahn. The first section from Frankfurt am Main to Darmstadt was completed in 1935.  During World War II, allied bombing and German military demolition heavily damaged the autobahns, and thousands of kilometers remained unfinished after the war. In West Germany, the German Federal Republic (GFR) soon repaired most existing autobahns, undertook completion of unfinished sections and extended the program.
As of 2012, Germany’s autobahns consist of a system of high-speed roadways with a total length of 12,845 km (8000 mi). The majority of modern autobahns are similar to major highways in industrialized countries. Modern autobahns are designed with multiple lanes of traffic in both directions and a central barrier between them, and all road junctions are grade-separated. Vehicles with a top speed of less than 60 km/h (37 mph) are not allowed on the autobahn system. Finally, a 120 cm (47 in) wide hard shoulder provides an emergency lane.  Post war construction introduced a 69 cm (27 in) asphalt-concrete cross-section with fully paved hard shoulders with life span of 40 years. The U. S. freeways are 11 inches thick. The top “design speed” is approximately 160 km/h (99 mph) in flat country, including curves. A few old sections of autobahn exist with two lanes and no emergency lane.
No general speed limit exists for auto or motorcycles on the autobahns, but there is an advisory (Richtgeschwindigkeit) limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). Buses and vehicles towing trailers are limited to 100 km/h (62 mph). Additionally, limits are imposed for pollution or noise reduction, road construction, traffic jams, accidents and weather. In reality, the average speeds used on unmarked autobahn stretches are about 140 km/h (87 mph).
Traffic Laws and Enforcement
Unmarked police vehicles with video cameras patrol the German autobahn. Lane usage and posted speeds are strictly enforced. Drivers are required to use the right lane when it is free, and the left lane is to be used only for passing. Drivers can be fined for prolonged use of the far left lane when other lanes are free. Passing on the right is strictly forbidden.  Not yielding the left lane to allow a faster vehicle to pass is finable. However, excessive honking, light flashing or tailgating are also finable offenses and may be considered coercion with stiffer penalties. Except for emergencies – traffic jams or an accident – stopping on the autobahn is illegal. Even running out of gas is subject to a fine.
Byline:  Terrence Wadsworth is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee who focuses on cars, car gadgetry, the history of automobiles, and other things car related, including auto insurance; click to learn more about the top 10 cars in Canada in terms of car fuel consumption and insurance.

14 thoughts on “The Autobahn: Germany’s Race Track for Everyday Drivers”

  1. I just read somewhere that a couple ofOrthree of the autobahn includes a posted speed limit enforced, however aren’t able to find the firOr3 which has no posted speed limit. Please i wish to discover where there’s no posted speed limit. Just place the nearest town to negligence the autobahn will be able to place the pedal towards the metal. ( or precisely where in Germany ex: south, east, west…)

  2. The typical speed of the vehicle driving around the Autobahn in Germany is 20 km/h reduced compared to average speed of the train.

    Considering that a train requires .75 less hrs to visit 840 km than the usual vehicle around the Autobahn, go into the average speed of the vehicle driving across the Autobahn?

    The typical speed is ____ km/h

  3. I have checked out super cheap auto, autobahn etc however they don’t appear to market high quality ones. My home is Adelaide. Also how can i buy clay bars.

  4. I don’t know how big or brand tires I want however the auto technician stated it might be cheaper basically purchased them and that he would use them for me personally. I’m not sure where to start. I drive around 50k’s each day and that i do autobahn driving so it’s a little more intensive than regular US freeway driving. Can anybody assist me to?

  5. I truly desire a 2006 Lincoln subsequently LS by next school year, what’s the primary distinction between the 06, 05, and 04 models?….there is something I like concerning the 06 model however i can’t put my finger onto it…so what is the primary exterior difference? could it be the car headlights? I believe the 06 looks the very best of all the model years….as well as- is that this a great and reliable vehicle to possess? the number of miles can one expect to get away from it? Be DETAILED Inside Your EXPLANATIONS!! nobody sentence solutions

  6. Exist now speed limits for the entire autobahn or are you able to still go as quickly as you would like on some stretches, if that’s the case where abouts. im quite curious is the reason why i requested this

  7. I wish to drive the autobahn in Germany. We intend on going for a train at this time from Berlin to Prague, but will it be possible/better to rent a vehicle and drive it into Prague? Would the work when travelling in to the Czech Repetition.? We’re also headed from Prague to Vienna. Then to Venice, then to Zurich. My first stop is Amsterdam, right we now have a flight ticket to Berlin, what about driving that rather?

  8. Aside from the Autobahn and also the Volkswagen obviously.

    Also, who have been the creators? Names could be appreciated!

    @Pinky: Their Autobahns were replicated from Benito Mussolini’s Autostrades.

    @David Fischer: If Adolf Hitler didn’t have aim of likely to war, why would then he have commissioned regarding jet planes and rockets?

  9. i’ve got a 1996 ford tauras lx. my auto technician reads vehicle magazines. he stated that my vehicle was the very first vehicle that met american standards they are driving around the autobahn? what’s he speaking about? (vehicle mag visitors and experts only)

  10. Don’t let get rid of them like Germanys autobahn and Italys autostrada? I understand you will find places for example Montana along with other desolate places that you will find no speed limits but who drives their, I am speaking about creating our popular expressways within our large metropolitan areas such as this.

  11. I have never been in the autobahn, and we are not permitted they are driving faster than 75 miles per hour here, and so i only agreed to be wondering when they made cars that handled speed better for autobahn motorists…Could they be safer? Quieter? I’m not sure exactly what the autobahn is much like, and so i only agreed to be curious about it….

  12. we are all acquainted with the storyline from the autobahns affect on american streets, so I am uninterested for the reason that history.

    however i remember listening to a german official who came to the u . s . states and wound up taking major road design ideas back. Is anybody acquainted with this story? and does anybody have links to info on it?

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