Here are some facts about the German Autobahn:
Not Speed Limit
The German autobahn, known as “the last refuge of the high-speed drivers,” has no speed limits for thousands of miles. It is the only public highway in the world where you can legally make a test drive to find the maximum speed of your motorcycle.
At one time there wasn’t a single speed limit on the autobahn. Today, because of urban sprawl, nearly half of the autobahn has a lot of signs. Those sections of the road that have speed limits are close to cities. Outside cities, speed limit restrictions are lifted with the famous no-speed-limit sign (below).
Why in Germany?
In Germany speed is a natural right. Germans are known to follow rules in most other areas, but traveling at 180 kph (112 mph) is seen as a natural right. Germans have this famous slogan: “Freie Fahrt fuer freie Buerger” (Unrestricted driving for unrestricted citizens).
Faster but Safer than in America
Contrary to common sense, driving without limits, at least in Germany, is safe—even safer than in other countries. The American interstate, for example, has a higher death rate than the German autobahn. Why safer?
The quality of the road: The German autobahn is meticulously maintained. Germans don’t patch up cracks and potholes on the autobahn. Instead, they replace entire sections of roads.
And the road is built specially for high speed: it is 2 times thicker than the American interstate and has a smoother surface. Double guardrails separate oncoming traffic.
Extensive driver training: It’s not that easy to get a German driver’s license, which can cost up to $2000. Individual driver training is mandatory.
Good driving habits:Germans observe the law that slow vehicles should never block traffic on the fast left lane. The left lane is for cars that pass. That’s why it is perfectly acceptable to flash your high beams at slower moving vehicles ahead of you—they always get out of the way. In addition, Germans don’t eat, drink or talk on the cell phone while driving.
The quality of cars: German cars are designed especially for the autobahn—very maneuverable with high-quality suspension, brakes, and safety features.
Riding Motorcycle on the Autobahn
Because of its smooth surface, gentle curves, and no speed limit for thousands of miles, the German autobahn is a great place for motorcyclists addicted to speed.
American citizens from 36 of the 50 states can drive with their American license in Germany for one year. Technically, foreigners need a German translation of their licenses but for basic traffic violations the police tend to overlook missing translations. If you ever get a chance to ride on the German autobahn, here are some tips:
- Use the left lane for passing only. (Imagine what the American freeways could be if the left lane was used for passing only.) Get in the left lane of the autobahn only when you are passing another vehicle. Overtake and get back in the farthest right lane that you can.
- Use your high beams to signal at drivers ahead that you are approaching.
- Always look right.
- Always check your mirrors: On the autobahn without a maximum speed, you must check your mirrors more often than you are used to.
- When maintaining high speed, increase the distance to other fast vehicles before you.
Check out the motorcyclist in the video below. He reaches 300 kph (186 mph) on the German autobahn.