New York Reiseführer - | New York meets Germany | Cruising

New York meets Germany


by Sascha Reinking

McLaren Mercedes SLR

Welcome to the country that produces the best cars in the world and where there is no speed limit on the Autobahn. It doesn’t matter if you drive a Volkswagen, a BMW, a Mercedes, an Audi or even a Porsche. All these German cars are safe…but only as safe as your common sense allows. We want you to have fun in Germany. But we also want you to be safe. Therefore we recommend that you drive considerate and by the German rules.

I know that you are all good drivers but nevertheless I would like to give you some tips that might be useful on the street.

Car Rentals: There are a couple of major car rental places in Germany. If you need a car during your stay in Germany it would make sense to rent the car at the airport. It might be wise to book a car in advance to make sure that they have a vehicle available when you arrive. Most rental places will give you a car with gearshift. If you rather drive an automatic you should mention that when you reserve your car.

Following you will find some of the best known car rental places in Germany. E-Sixt has usually pretty good rates. You will get a nice Audi, BMW or Mercedes with navigator and as an automatic if you like.

You will leave the airport with the rental car and the first thing you hit is…

The Autobahn The Autobahn: Yes, it is true. All your dreams come true right here. You set the blinker, turn right, speed up on the acceleration lane, and then you see it: The round white sign with the black lines across it. This is where it begins. You pass the sign and there is no speed limit anymore. You can drive as fast as the car, and the traffic, allows. Enjoy it! But please follow the rules which are strict. If you don’t follow the rules you will lose your driver’s licence faster than you can say “traffic stop”. Plus, penalties are expensive. They can go up to €400 (~$520). The Autobahn only works because people (at least the biggest part of them) follow the rules.

Some of the rules comprise (and are also true for the regular “non-Autobahn” traffic):
  • There are speed limits on specific sections on the Autobahn. Follow them! They usually are at building sites or dangerous passages. The speed limit signs are white and round with a red border and the allowed limit in the middle.

  • NEVER pass a car on the right site on the Autobahn! People don’t expect that a car is passing them on the right site and that could have disastrous consequences. The right lane of the Autobahn is for slow moving vehicles such as Grandma and Grandpa, trailers and trucks. The middle lane is for passing these slow cars. The left lane is exclusively for fast drivers.

  • Keep a “healthy” distance from the car in front of you. When you drive fast your time to react/brake is limited.

  • Always stay focused as traffic is moving fast. And always use your common sense. Blue signs on the Autobahn mark the suggested speed.

  • Never drink and drive. You will lose your drivers licence when you have more than 0.5 per mil blood alcohol which equals about 1 beer. (For the wedding we have friends of my brother who will bring everybody home. So don’t worry about it.)

  • The speed is shown in km/h and not miles/h. 1 mile/h equals about 1.61 km/h. So if your speedometer for example shows 120 km/h you are actually driving about 75 miles/h.

  • At a red light you are not allowed to make a right turn unless it is allowed by a green arrow pointing right. (Doesn’t occur on the Autobahn)

  • At an intersection that is not regulated by signs always the driver to your right has the right way and not like here in the US the car that arrived first.
Also helpful to know is that you always have to pump your own gas at gas stations and that the gas price is shown in Euros per Liter. 1 gallon equals 3.79 Liter.

Car bumping: We Germans are peace loving folks. We don’t tend to sue everybody and everywhere just because we like to sue. But when it comes to our cars, you don’t wanna mess with us. Here in NY we witness sometimes the “bumping game”. People bump into cars when they park just to see how much room is left between the car to the front and back. You don’t wanna try that in Germany. We love our cars! We adore our cars! Our cars are part of the family. Bumping in my car is like bumping my sister. You just don’t do it. I wouldn’t even recommend to lean on a car. You might get angry looks from the owner.

Speed Trap Pedestrian lights: Different from New York and other big cities in the States you should stop at a red pedestrian light. I’m not sure why but people get cranky if you ignore a red light. And it doesn’t make a difference if it is 3am in the morning at a village crossing without any traffic. You cross that red light and you are considered a bad person.

Lightning?: If you drive down the street and suddenly you are blinded by a flash…that could mean you were driving faster than allowed you just have been “flashed”. Every once in a while, well hidden behind traffic signs, you will find an electronic flash box that takes a picture of you when you were driving to fast. We have lots of these boxes in the area. So be warned.
© 2000-2018 by Marion Reichwein & Thomas Reichwein
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