page last updated August 18, 2022
is an overview of the important points of the German traffic code based
on my interpretation
of the current Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung
Ordinances), as well as contributions by readers.
most important section for foreigners is the right-of-way discussion.
you're done, you can test your knowledge here.
minimum age to drive in Germany in 18. If
visiting Germany and will not be establishing residency, then your own
driver's license from your home country, state, or province is valid in
Germany for as long as you're there. If you will be
residency in Germany, your driver's license is valid for six months
from the date when permanent residency is established, which in
practice is generally assumed to be the date you enter the
country. You will have to obtain a German driver's license in
order to continue driving after that six month grace period
expires. If your residency will be for longer than six months
less than one year (and you can legally prove it), you can obtain a six
month extension to use your existing license.
International Driving Permit
is a bit of confusion and disagreement on whether foreigners need to
also have an International Driving
With recent international agreements on standardizing driver license
formats, you generally will no longer need an IDP if your license is in
the numbered format; that is, each of the elements of
information on your license (name, date of birth, etc.) is numbered,
similar to the example below. If so, then that license is accepted in
Germany without the need for an IDP. This is because the
know what the numbered attributes on your license mean, which was
the purpose of the IDP.
your license does not have those numbers, then you're
supposed to carry an
official translation of your license in addition to the license itself.
This is where an International Driving
Permit (IDP) comes in. You will need to purchase one in your home
country before leaving for Germany. In the
US, these are
from AAA for $20 plus two passport photos. However,
found that if you speak the language well enough, you can
without an IDP and, should you get into a situation where you
have a translation, you can get always one from the ADAC automobile
about €40. If you're unsure or just want to be safe,
recommendation is to get an IDP before you go. Keep in mind that an IDP
not replace your
official driver's license-- it
is just a translation of it in an
internationally recognized format. You must carry your
license with your IDP in order for it to be valid.
Example US driver's license with numbered elements
If you will be living in Germany
you will be in
stationed in Germany with the US military, you will need to obtain a
driver's license issued by the US Armed Forces. See the
driver's handbook at media.defense.gov/2010/Nov/16/2001921849/-1/-1/0/AEP190-34.pdf,
then come back here for a supplemental guide!
you are not
affiliated with the US military and are going to be living in Germany
longer than one year, you will need to get a German Driver's License (Führerschein).
If you have a valid license in your home country and have
not lived in Germany for more than three years, you may be able to
convert your existing license. The process
starts with a visit to the local traffic office (Straßenverkehrsamt.)
What happens next will depend on where you hail from. Germany
reciprocal agreements with many countries and US states allowing
driver's licenses to be converted. If you're lucky, you may
to do nothing more than fill-out some paperwork (although after you
finally finish all the required forms, you may wonder just how lucky
you really are!) If not, you may still get off only having to
take the written test. Otherwise, you'll have to go through
whole testing procedure, just like the Germans do. Note,
that when a conversion is possible, only holders of non-commercial
vehicle licenses can convert
their existing license to a German license.
was issued in one of the following US states, you can convert your
license to a German license without any testing: Alabama, Arizona,
Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah,
Virginia, West Virginia, Washington (state), Wisconsin, Wyoming, and
these US states require the applicant to take just the written test:
Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee.
and current list of all US states, Canadian provinces, and other
countries with reciprocal license agreements, see the sites listed in
the links section at the bottom of this page.
licenses from all other US states will require you to take both the
written and practical (road) tests. In all cases, you
will have to take a vision test, which is usually administered
a commercial eye doctor (at your own expense, of course.) You
also be required to take a first-aid class.
convert your license without testing, simply complete the required
paperwork and submit it. If you have to take the written
will be given at the traffic office. The test consists of
covering laws, signs, vocabulary, theory, and energy
conservation. To prepare for the test, you can study this
and/or take a course at a German driving school (Fahrschule).
Be wary, though-- you just want the short laws and signs class, not the
full driving course. The latter course currently costs around
€1,500 and consists of 25-45 hours of instruction, including
hours of theory, and oodles of practical experience including night and
Autobahn driving. Make sure you ask for the special class for
residents. If a school tells you they don't offer it, find
you have to
take the practical on-the-road test, it will be conducted by a driving
school (not the traffic office as is the case in the US) and will last
about an hour. It will most likely
short trip on the Autobahn. If you need practice, most
schools offer short courses to prepare for the practical test as
well. Once you pass these tests, you will take the paperwork to the
traffic office where you will be awarded a German
license valid for the rest of your life!
German driver's license
laws and enforcement
of German traffic law is the "doctrine of confidence", which in effect
says that motorists must be alert, obey the law, and drive defensively
at all times so that all motorists and other road users (including
pedestrians) can have confidence in each other. Motorists
especially alert for and anticipate the actions of elderly or disabled
pedestrians or children, all of whom are exempt from the doctrine of
confidence. All road users must act to prevent endangering,
hindering, and unreasonably inconveniencing other road users.
in Germany and all of continental
Europe drives on the right side of the road (not on the left, as many
Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers.
under 12 years old or shorter than 1.5 meters may not sit in the front
seat unless they are in an approved child safety seat and there is no
room in the back seat (or there is no back seat.) However,
you may not use a child safety seat in the front seat if there is an
vehicle and take the keys whenever you leave it. You should leave
your doors unlocked while driving to facilitate rescue in an
is illegal to drive with your parking lights
you must use your headlights at night and during inclement
and moped riders must ride with helmets and headlights
at all times.
must carry a warning triangle (Warndreieck),
safety vest (Warnweste),
and a super-duper highway first aid kit (Pkw-Verbandkasten)
which I defy you to find a simple band-aid. Germany
a fire extinguisher (Feuerlöscher)
to be carried, but it's not a bad idea to have one anyway. You
are required to place the warning
triangle 100 meters behind your vehicle if it is disabled (200 meters
on the Autobahn), although I rarely see anyone actually put it
that far back.
third-party liability insurance and must carry proof of that insurance (Versicherungskarte)
as well as proof of ownership (Fahrzeugschein,
Zulassungsbescheinigung) at all
enforcement in Germany is done via enforcement
cameras. Permanent and temporary cameras--
automated and manually-operated-- are used to catch speeders, red-light
violators, and tailgaters. Sometimes an obscure sign like the one at the right will
you of the existence of such a camera, but it might be too late by the
time you see it.
for violations caught by enforcement cameras are mailed to the
the vehicle within a few weeks. If you're driving a rental
the ticket will go to the rental agency. They, in turn, will
report you to the police as the driver of the vehicle (and likely
charge you a non-trivial administrative fee to do it) and the ticket
will be forwarded to you, although authorities sometimes drop
non-EU residents. An interesting footnote about
automated enforcement: the
stopped sending a copy of the photo a while back when several spouses
discovered cases of infidelity when they opened the violation
notice. Now, you have to go to the police station yourself to
the photo and contest it if you so desire. Such an effort is
usually fruitless, though.
is still done the old-fashioned way with police using both marked and
unmarked vehicles looking for violations. If you get busted, the police
vehicle will typically pass you and then you'll be signaled to
pull over by a "lollypop" traffic paddle
see picture to the left) being held out of the window of the police
vehicle and/or by a
sign on the back of the vehicle reading "Polizei--
("police-- please follow".) If this happens, reduce speed and follow
the police vehicle-- they'll lead you to a safe place to stop. Then
turn off the engine and wait for further instructions from the
officers. These vehicles typically have
on-board cameras recording constantly and the video is used as evidence
if the violation is disputed or if you evade them.
instead of being stopped using a vehicle, a police officer on the
side of the
road will motion for you to pull over. In these cases, a hidden police
unit further back observed a violation and radioed your vehicle's
description, or it may be a random traffic stop or checkpoint (Verkehrskontrolle)
for general safety checks, sobriety checks, or for drug or other
officers are very professional and typically polite, so if you are
stopped for any reason, remain calm and cooperative and you should be
fine. Most police officers speak English, so let them
know right way if you do not speak German. Be sure you know where the
vehicle registration and insurance card are, especially if you have a
rental car (the rental agreement satisfies these requirements.) Also
know where the warning
triangle, safety vest, and first aid kit are-- police often ask to
check these during traffic stops. If you are stationed in
Germany with the US military, you can ask the officer to contact the
nearest US garrison military police if you feel that's necessary.
The police are allowed to collect "warning fines" (Verwarnungsgeld)
of €5 to €55 for
most minor traffic offenses on the spot. If you pay the spot fine, you
are essentially pleading guilty to the charge and, once the fine is
paid, the matter is considered settled. If you don't have
cash on hand, you can usually pay with a credit/debit card, and in many
cases now, police will not accept cash payments.
you are unable or unwilling to pay (you have the legal right to do so
if you wish to contest it),
the police can demand collateral to ensure you will appear in court.
Often, this can mean the vehicle or some valuable object in your
possession is impounded. In most cases, however, if you live in
Germany, you'll probably just be issued a citation to
appear in court later, and if you're a foreigner, you may be let off
with just a verbal or written warning.
Note that if you refuse to pay the
fine and go to court, you may be assessed a higher fine (Bußgeld) there, and some
fines are based on your income.
You need not fear when paying
spot fines-- the German police are very professional and corruption is
very rare, and you will always be given a receipt for the payment.
violations are considered to be felonies and may be punishable by
imprisonment if lives or property are endangered. These
driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leaving the scene of
an accident, illegal passing, U-turns and wrong-way driving or
backing-up on the Autobahn, running a red light, failure to yield the
reckless driving including excessive speeding.
a point system for driving offenses. Most minor violations
one to four points, with more serious violations earning five or more
points. Points for minor offenses are expunged after three
other offenses will remain on the record for five to 10 years depending
on the offense. Motorists who exceed four points on their
at any given time can attend a driving safety class to eliminate four
points from their record (two points if the total is greater than
nine.) Those who accumulate 14 points are required to attend
safety class. They may then voluntarily obtain counseling
traffic psychologist (yep, there is such a thing) to eliminate two
points from their
record. Anyone who accumulates 18 or more points will have their
suspended indefinitely. The agency that records traffic points is in
the city of Flensburg, so references about the traffic point system
often use the word "Flensburg". The US military also has a point
that varies somewhat from the German system.
hierarchical system to assign right-of-way (Vorfahrt,
at intersections as follows:
officer: A police officer
directing traffic overrides all other
traffic controls. Officers sometimes use obvious motions such
waving and pointing to direct traffic. However, if an officer is not
motioning, then the position of the officer indicates if you must stop
or can proceed:
- An officer standing with both
shoulders facing you (sometimes with arms outstretched)
means you must stop and wait. This applies to traffic both in
front of and
behind the officer. (In German, they say, "Siest du Brust oder Rücken,
musst du auf die Bremse drücken.", which translates as "If
you see the chest or back, you must step on the brake." (It sounds
better in German.)
- An officer standing with just one shoulder
facing you (again, possibly with arms outstretched) means
proceed straight ahead or turn right. ("Siehst du die Hosennaht, hast
du freie Fahrt.", or "If you see the pants seam,
you have free travel.") If you want to turn
left, wait until the officer directly motions for you to turn; this may
be done by the officer pointing one hand toward you
and his other hand or wand to your left, oftentimes while
making eye contact.
- If the officer has
one arm in the air,
he or she is preparing to change the traffic flow
to a yellow light.) All approaching traffic must stop, and
those in the intersection must vacate it.
Officers directing traffic may use a black and
white striped wand or a traffic paddle ("lollypop", see photo
officer signaling "stop"
officer signaling all traffic to stop, be ready for change of control
officer signaling "go"
from US military driving manual)
signals: Traffic signals are the
next highest right-of-way
control. Traffic signals are discussed in detail on the Signs, Signals, and Markings
page. Remember that you cannot turn right on red in Germany unless
there is a green arrow sign next
signal, in which case you
must come to a
complete stop first and yield to all other traffic
pedestrians before turning.
Signs are the most common right-of-way control. Germany and Europe use
system of "priority roads" (Vorfahrtstraßen)
right-of-way. Priority roads are marked with the "priority road" sign . Traffic on a
priority road has the
right-of-way ("priority") over other traffic at all intersections along
the way. Intersecting streets will have a yield or stop
sign. The "yield" sign
indicates that you
must give the right-of-way, but you don't have to stop if the way is
clear. The "stop" sign
indicates that you
must first come to a complete stop, then proceed when the way is
clear. Often, priority roads make turns at intersections in
towns. These turns are indicated by an accompanying schematic sign on all
approaches to the intersection
showing the priority road with a thick line. On the schematic,
always approaching from the bottom. Traffic leaving the priority road
must yield to
other traffic continuing along the priority road but still has the
right-of-way over traffic on the other streets. By the way,
you are following a priority road that turns, you still must use your
turn signal. Priority roads are cancelled by the "end of priority road"
by a yield or stop
sign. On roads that are not priority roads, right-of-way may
granted at individual intersections by the "priority" sign .
indicates that you
have the right-of-way only at the next intersection. It should not be
confused with the "uncontrolled intersection" sign which
indicates that right-of-way must be given to the traffic approaching
from the right at the next intersection.
that right-of-way signs are also usually posted at signalized
however, the signal takes precedence over the signs
unless the signal is not operating, in which case the signs then govern.
Also, note that the "end of traffic calming zone" sign
and "end of pedestrian zone" sign
also require drivers to yield to
all other traffic including pedestrians.
right-of-way scheme: If there is
no police officer, no signal, or no
sign indicating the right-of-way, then the following default scheme is
road has priority:
Traffic on public highways has priority over
private drives, forest and farm paths, and dirt roads. Also,
sunken curbstones ("curb cut") across your roadway indicate that you
- "Right before left":
When two public roads cross at an
uncontrolled intersection, then right-of-way is always given to traffic
approaching from the right.
includes "T" intersections! In the US, traffic on the through
street of a "T" has the
right-of-way, but in Germany, you must yield to the right, even
you are on the through road. This also includes the rare
situation where a main thoroughfare and small side street cross at an
uncontrolled intersection. Uncontrolled intersections are often marked
with the "uncontrolled intersection" sign ,
especially if the intersection and/or right-of-way situation is
When traffic is congested,
the normal right-of-way rules go out the window and the "zipper rule" (Reißverschluss)
goes into effect. This means that cars feed one at a time
alternating from each direction, regardless of who has the posted
right-of-way. The zipper rule also applies when one
and merges into another-- each vehicle in the through lane must allow
one vehicle from the truncated lane to merge in.
of otherwise equal right-of-way, vehicles going straight have priority,
followed by right turns; left turns go last.
entering a roundabout technically has the right-of-way unless the
entrance is marked with both a "yield" sign and
"roundabout" sign (which
it almost always
(Footnote: you must use
your turn signal when you exit a roundabout, but not as you approach or
enter it as in some other countries.)
vehicles with a flashing blue light and siren sounding always have the
right-of-way at intersections. Outside of intersections, you must
pull-over to the right-hand side of the road
when one approaches.
yield to streetcars at intersections. Don't pass a stopped
streetcar if it is discharging passengers directly onto the street. You
may continue on after the doors have closed.
a marked bus stop.
sections, the "priority over coming traffic" sign gives
you the right-of-way over
traffic, and the "yield to oncoming traffic" sign
means you must yield to oncoming
narrow mountainous roads, traffic going uphill
the right-of-way if not otherwise marked.
passing is difficult or not allowed, slower traffic is required to pull
over when possible to allow faster traffic to go by (waysides or
sometimes provided for this purpose.)
always have the right-of-way when in a crosswalk.
intersection if traffic is backed-up on the other side of the junction,
even if you have a green light.
entering an Autobahn or expressway must yield to other traffic already
on the main roadway.
never assert their right-of-way-- safety takes precedence in all
speed limit sign is a number inside a red ring . Speed
limits are shown in kilometers per hour.
is a set of general or "default" statutory speed limits (Geschwindigkeitbeschränkung)
that apply in the absence of signs:
of course, supersede the statutory limits.
limited to a lower speed limit will usually have a decal resembling a
speed limit sign displayed on the back of a vehicle indicating the
speed it is authorized to travel depending on its specific
characteristics. In some cases, those vehicles may be
to travel slower or faster than the general limit and will display the
appropriate decal indicating such.
of "speed limit zone" sign .
speed limit for an entire neighborhood and the speed limit on
sign remains in effect on all streets beyond this sign until you pass
"end of speed limit zone" sign .
Here are a few other points about speed limit signs to be aware of:
the "end of speed limit" sign
will only show the last posted speed limit, it actually
cancels all previous posted limits and indicates a return to the
statutory speed limit for the road you are on. For example, you're
traveling down a rural road at the statutory speed
limit of 100 km/h when
you come to a "speed limit 80" sign , so you
slow down to 80. A hundred meters or so further, you come to a
60" sign , so you
slow down to 60. After a while, you
pass an "end speed limit 60" sign . What
speed do you return to? The answer
is the statutory speed
limit of 100 km/h. The "end
speed limit 60" sign
cancels all previous posted
speed limits, not just the 60 km/h limit.
a speed limit sign is mounted beneath a warning sign, the speed
limit applies until you pass the hazard indicated on the
sign. For instance, if you you come to a "traffic signals ahead" sign with
a "speed limit 60" sign below
limit is in effect only until you pass the traffic signals, after which
you can then return to the statutory speed
limit if no other speed limit
signs are posted.
of all restrictions" sign indicates
end of all previous posted speed limits and the end of any no passing
zones. However, remember that the statutory speed
roadway still applies.
fog reduces visibility to less than 50 meters, the maximum speed you
may drive is 50 km/h.
a bus is stopped at a bus stop with its hazard lights flashing, traffic
in both directions may only pass at a speed of 7 km/h or less (i.e.
"walking pace"), although few drivers seem to observe this rule.
a child, elderly, or handicapped person is near the road, drivers
are required to remove their foot from the accelerator and be prepared
to stop. German courts have upheld that the driver is
responsible for preventing accidents in these situations no matter the
actions of the pedestrian.
overtaking is prohibited in the following situations:
a solid white line on your side of the road and/or a "no passing" sign
or on the
approach to a railway crossing (i.e. between the initial warning sign
and the crossing)
exceed the speed limit.
turn signals before pulling out to the left and again when returning to
return to the right lane as soon as safely possible without endangering
or impeding the vehicle you are overtaking.
overtaken must allow plenty of space for the passing vehicle to
complete their maneuver and must slow down to accomplish this if
necessary. It is illegal (and stupid, frankly) to speed-up to prevent
right is prohibited except on multilane roads (including the Autobahn)
when traffic in the left lane is stopped or is moving at less than 60
km/h. In those cases, traffic in the right lane may not exceed 80
km/h. Passing on the right is also allowed on roads
traffic signals, although in practice traffic is typically traveling at
less than 60 km/h in those cases anyway.
passing is difficult or not allowed, slower traffic is required to pull
over when possible to allow faster traffic to go by (waysides or
sometimes provided for this purpose.)
passing cyclists, e-scooters, or pedestrians, drivers must maintain a
buffer of 1.5 meters in built-up areas and 2 meters outside built-up
driving under the influence in Germany are harsh. Severe
penalties are assessed to first time offenders, usually including the
suspension of your license. The blood-alcohol limit for most drivers is
0.05%. For drivers who commit a moving violation or are involved in a
crash, the limit drops to 0.03%. For drivers under 21 and drivers with
less than two year experience, the limit is 0.00%. The limit for
bicyclists is 0.16%. If you have an accident, the courts may determine
whether alcohol was a factor even if your blood alcohol content is
below the limit.
content of German adult beverages, it doesn't take long to hit the
limit. The best advice is this: if you drink AT
drive! Don't forget that driving under the
drugs (prescription or recreational) is also illegal.
are considered "parked" if you leave your vehicle or if you stop/stand
for longer than 3 minutes unless you are actively boarding or
discharging passengers or loading or unloading cargo.
may not park:
meters on either side of an intersection, or within 8 meters of an
intersection if there is a marked bicycle lane
driveway entrances or exits, or on the opposite side of the street if
the roadway is too narrow to allow vehicles to enter or exit the
will obstruct the use of marked parking places
meters on either side of a bus or streetcar stop marked with a "bus or
streetcar stop" sign
meters on either side of a "railway crossing" sign when
outside of urban areas or
within 5 meters when inside an
road outside of urban areas
front of a
curb-cut or wheelchair ramp
traffic island or median
side of another parked vehicle ("double parked")
a marked bicycle lane
is a "no parking" sign
on the same side
of the street
may not stop
or stand (on the side of the road):
roads or in blind spots
or within 5
meters approaching a pedestrian crosswalk
crossings or tracks
to turn lanes (those marked with arrows on the pavement)
and approaching a fire station driveway
traffic circle or roundabout
stand marked with a "taxi stand" sign
meters in front of "yield" , "stop"
signs, or traffic
signals, if parking would obstruct the view of the sign or signal
is a "no stopping" sign
on the same side
of the street
prohibited (see above), on-street parking is generally
permitted. When you park, there must be a gap of a least 3 meters
vehicle and the middle of the street or the nearest lane
many places, you may park partially or entirely on the sidewalk to
fulfill this requirement, but look for signs permitting this (or
vehicles doing so) before you do it. If you do, make sure
is sufficient room for pedestrians on the sidewalk. Vehicles
2.8t may not park on the sidewalk.
must park on
the right side of the street unless:
are on a
one-way street and parking on the left would leave sufficient room for
vehicles to pass.
rails along the right side.
may not park,
stop, or stand in a traffic lane if there is a shoulder or parking lane
unless, of course, you are stopping to comply with a traffic sign or
signal or due to congestion.
parking on a
street at night, you must use your parking lights unless you are parked
near an all-night streetlight. Streetlights that do not
on for the entire night are marked by a white and red band
around the lamppost.
"parking area" sign
parking is permitted on
streets or gives directions to an off-street parking
facility. When used to mark on-street parking, it is usually
additional signs indicating when parking is permitted, who is permitted
to park, or that the use of a parking permit, voucher, or disc is
required. For more information on finding parking in cities
using parking facilities, see the Driving
& Parking in German Cities
The "parking restriction zone" sign
entrance to an area or neighborhood where there is a general parking
restriction. All streets beyond this sign are included in this
restriction you pass an "end of parking restriction zone" sign .
"parking management zone" sign
entrance to an
area or neighborhood
where parking is permitted on all streets in the area with the use of a
parking disc or voucher as indicated by a supplemental sign. The
requirements apply to all
streets beyond this sign until you pass an "end of parking
management zone" sign .
vouchers, discs, and meters
Signage for on-street parking
may require you to use a voucher,
disc, or meter that limits the length of time you may park. See
the Driving &
page for information on using each of these systems.
Parking fines range
from €10 to €110. If you
obstructing traffic or a driveway, your vehicle will, with great
Teutonic efficiency, almost surely become the temporary property of the
police. In such an event, you will have to pay a towing charge in
addition to the fine; contact the police to settle the
"entering urban area" sign marks
to a built-up area. Upon passing this sign, several special
regulations go into effect:
honk your horn except when necessary to avoid a collision.
prohibited within 5 meters of a railroad crossing.
ensure that your vehicle can be seen when parked at night. This
may require the use of parking lights if street lighting is inadequate
or does not remain on all night. Such lights are marked by a red
"leaving urban area" sign
indicates that you
are leaving a built-up area and its associated traffic
regulations. The following general regulations apply:
prohibited on priority roads.
prohibited within 50 meters of a railroad crossing.
vehicles must be marked with a warning triangle.
are usually implemented on small
residential streets. The start of a traffic calming zone is
marked by the "traffic calming zone" sign
and the "end of traffic calming zone" sign marks
the exit from such a
zone. Within traffic calming zones, the following rules apply:
maintain the lowest possible speed-- no more than 7 km/h.
may use the entire street and children are permitted to play in the
not endanger or hinder pedestrians; when necessary, motorists must wait.
may not unnecessarily hinder traffic.
permitted outside of marked spaces except for boarding/discharging and
the zone, you must yield to all other traffic.
streets and zones
and zones (Fahrradzone)
are the latest trend in traffic calming in Germany.
entrance or beginning of a bicycle street is
marked by the "bicycle street" sign and the exit or end is marked by
the "end bicycle street" sign . These
are typically smaller residential streets that provide
connectivity between major roadways for cyclists. In many cases,
supplemental signs indicate that motor vehicles are also allowed on
these streets, although frequently only in one direction (whereas
bicycles can travel in both directions.)
rules apply on bicycle streets:
bicycle street concept is expanded to an entire neighborhood with the
"bicycle zone" sign . The
same rules as a bicycle street apply on all streets beyond this sign
until the "end of bicycle zone" sign is
are permitted unless other vehicles are allowed by a supplemental sign.
Small electric vehicles, such as e-scooters, are also allowed.
speed limit for all vehicles is 30 km/h.
indicated otherwise, pedestrians, roller skaters, and small
children on bicycles must use the sidewalk except when crossing the
not endanger or hinder bicyclists; when necessary, motorists must
ride 2 or more abreast.
right-of-way rules apply.
apply when driving on the Autobahn. These are listed on the Autobahn page.
- Mobile phones: Use
phones is prohibited while your vehicle is in operation. The
time you are permitted to use a mobile phone is if you are parked and
the engine is off. You may use a hands-free mobile
when driving if it does not impede your ability to hear traffic sounds.
- Sunday truck ban: Vehicles
a gross permitted weight of 7.5 tons or more (with several exceptions)
are prohibited from all public roads on Sundays and public holidays
from 00:00 to 22:00. This is to help prevent traffic jams.
- Low emissions zones: Since
2008, local governments have been permitted to establish so-called
"environmental zones" (Umweltzone). Entry to these zones, marked with
"low emissions restriction zone" signs ,
is restricted to vehicles displaying a green colored emissions sticker. Since
2018, some cities also have begin restricting older diesel vehicles from
certain roads, districts, or citywide. Further information on these zones is on the Driving &
German Cities page.
- Nuisances: Motorists
prohibited from unnecessarily revving their motors or slamming their
car doors excessively. It is also illegal to drive back and
unnecessarily (i.e. "cruising") in towns.
unfortunate should happen and you should be involved in a collision,
the steps to take are basically similar to those in the US and most
other places. Here's a list of what you should do:
This also applies if you are not directly
involved in the accident but are a witness. Germany's Good
Samaritan law also requires you to stop and render aid if people need
help, even if you are not a party to or did not witness the accident.
accident site by switching on your hazard flashers (Warnblinklicht).
Put your safety vest (Warnweste) on and place a
warning triangle 100 meters
behind the scene (200 meters on the Autobahn.) (A good rule of
thumb is that the black and white roadside markers are generally about
50 meters apart.)
injured, call for an ambulance and the police. From a cell phone or
public phone, dial 112. On the Autobahn and some major highways, you
nearest emergency telephone-- the direction to the nearest one is
marked by arrows
atop the black and white posts along the roadside. You are
required by the German "Good Samaritan Law" to give first aid to any
persons. Remember that super-duper first aid kit you're
to carry? This is the time to use it. Do not
anybody that is injured unless it is absolutely necessary. If
there is a fire or spilled fuel, get everyone involved away from the
vehicles and call the fire department.
injured, and the vehicles can be moved safely, you should mark the
location of each vehicle, then move them out of traffic. You
mark the locations either by taking photographs, drawing a diagram of the site and
vehicles, or using "traffic accident chalk" (Verkehrsunfallmarkierungskreide) to mark the
physical locations of the vehicles on the pavement before you move
them; many German automotive emergency kits include a stick of this chalk (it looks like a big yellow or white crayon.)
information with the other drivers including your driver's license,
passport, insurance green card, and rental information. As a
tourist, it is in your best interest to then call the police to the
scene (if you haven't already) and have them take a report (dial 110 or
use an emergency phone). This ensures that all the proper
requirements are satisfied and helps protect you from future problems.
ask you or your passengers to make a statement regarding the
circumstances of the accident. You are not required to make a
statement, but you still must provide valid identification and other
legal documents (e.g. car registration, insurance, etc.) and must sign
the accident report.
any documents unless you know what you are signing. Never
documents from people (other than uniformed police) who mysteriously
appear at an accident scene-- there have been reports of "helpful
who attempt to get those involved in
an accident to sign powers of attorney, loan applications, car rental agreements, and other
dubious documents in the confusion.
an unoccupied vehicle, German law requires you to wait at the scene for
at least 30 minutes for the owner to return. If the owner
not return, you must then report the accident to the police in
person. As a tourist, it is probably best to call the police
the scene rather than go to a police station. You might even
to do this immediately instead of waiting for the owner to return.
police have cleared you, you can leave the scene. If you are
driving a rental car, you should contact the rental agency immediately
to report the incident. They will give you instructions on
to do next and will dispatch a tow truck if necessary. If
accident happens on the Autobahn, your vehicle may be towed off the
Autobahn immediately by the police.
further legal assistance or advice after an accident, you should
contact the nearest consulate or embassy. If you are a member
the national auto club in your home country (e.g. AAA in the US), the
German ADAC auto club may also be able to assist you as they have
reciprocal agreements with most national auto clubs.
sites of interest