Autobahn in Germany

This page contains topics:

  1. What is Autobahn?
  2. Autobahn Rules and Tips
    1. Speed Limit on Autobahn
    2. Minimum Speed Limit on Autobahn
    3. Mandatory Equipment
    4. Use of Rear View Mirrors
    5. Stay in the Right Lane Rule
    6. Yellow Lines
    7. Exit and Entry Points
    8. Use of Hard Shoulder
    9. Rescue Lane
  3. Actions Prohibited on Autobahn
  4. Important Road Signs on Autobahn
  5. Autobahn Map
  6. Routes on Autobahn suitable for highspeed (above 120kmh / 75mph)
  7. To see the general traffic rules and laws in Germany please visit Traffic Laws and Regulations
  8. To see the important road signs in Germany please visit Important Road Signs.
  9. To see right of way rules, right before left rule and other priority rules in Germany please visit Right of Way.

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German Autobhan

The German word for highway or motorway is Autobahn. All three German-speaking nations, Germany, Austria and Switzerland use the word Autobahn for highways or motorways. The only thing that makes the German Autobahn famous is NO SPEED LIMIT.

No speed limits: Contrary to popular belief, there are only some sections on Autobahn that have no speed limits. No speed limit section starts with sign 282.

Autobahn no speed limit
Sign 282

After this sign, there would be no speed limit and end of all previous restrictions for passing / overtaking.

Passing/Overtaking restrictions can be as following:

overtaking not allowed sign
Sign 276

Prohibits passing motor vehicles other than two-wheeled vehicles (for example, motorcycles).

end of a no-passing zone for motor vehicles
Sign 280

Indicates the end of a no-passing zone for motor vehicles.

no-passing zone for trucks
Sign 277

No Passing. Prohibits vehicles with a gross weight of over 3.5 t to pass, except for two-lane vehicles (e.g. motorcycle).

end of no-passing zone for trucks
Sign 281

End of no passing zone for vehicles over 3.5 t.

Autobahn Rules

1. Speed Limit on Autobahn

1.1. No speed limit Autobahn no speed limit

There are certain sections on Autobahn which have no speed limits. This "no speed limit" condition does not apply to all types of vehicles. It is only applicable to vehicles with a gross weight under 3.5 t. Passenger cars and SUVs are however an exception even if they are above 3.5 t, and can avail the "no speed limit" luxury if there is no speed limit sign.

1.2. 130 km/h (Advisory speed limit) 130 km/h Autobahn advisory speed limit

With no restrictions sign, no speed limit starts for cars, SUVs, and motorcycles but there is an advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130km/h (80 mph). That means better to stay at 130 km/h. In case of an accident, there can be issues while driving over 130 km/h.

Even after the No-Restrictions sign, a vehicle weighing over 3.5 t and vehicles with trailers have designated speed limits. These speed limits are often not separately indicated for each vehicle class. Therefore drivers must know the speed limit for his/her vehicle class.

1.3. 100 km/h 100 km/h Autobah peed limit

A maximum speed of 100 km/h is allowed to buses with special registration certificates. These buses must be set with the speed limiter set to a maximum speed of 100 km/h (Vset).

1.4. 80 km/h 80 km/h Autobah peed limit

The maximum speed limit for motor vehicles with a total weight of more than 3.5 t (excluding passenger cars), for passenger cars with trailers, trucks alone or/and with trailers, motor homes alone or/and with trailers and for buses without trailers is 80 km/h (50 mph).

1.5. 60 km/h 60 km/h Autobah peed limit

The maximum speed limit for motorcycles with trailers, for trucks with two trailers and for buses and coaches with trailers or which are full of passengers to their maximum capacity, is 60 km/h.

2. Minimum speed limit 60 km/h Autobah peed limit

Only motor vehicles are allowed to use Autobahn. Vehicles, not capable of maintaining a speed of 60 kph (37 mph) are not allowed to enter autobahn. For example, agriculture machines, tractors, mopeds, electric scooters or quads with top speeds of less than 60 km/h are not allowed on Autobahn. Walking is also not permitted along the autobahn. Driving slower than 60 km/h due to any reason is not permitted. If for example, a vehicle has some mechanical fault and can't attain the speed of at least 60 km/h, it must leave the Autobahn on the next exit and use other roads.

3. Mandatory equipment

Whether on Autobahn or any other road in Germany, drivers must have a warning triangle and a first aid kit with them in the vehicle. The absence of any of these can cause fine.

4. Be aware of high-speed vehicles approaching from the rear

On Autobahn sections without speed limits, it is hard to estimate the speed of an approaching vehicle in rearview mirrors. One may think that he or she is driving very fast on Autobahn but there can be vehicles approaching at a faster speed. High-speed Autobahn driving is part of driving school training. German driving schools teach their students in such a way that drivers should be on alert and be ready to recognize typical errors caused ofttimes by other drivers and be able to cover those errors.

5. Stay in the right lane rule

There is a very strict rule on Autobahn and other roads in Germany, called Rechtsfahren (always stay in the right lane). The left lane should only be used for overtaking, except in special situations (for example, traffic jams, accidents). It is legal to remain in the left lane if you are waiting for the vehicle ahead to finish passing. Even if you are traveling at a very high speed, there would be vehicles traveling faster than you. So, be aware and alert. While you are passing another vehicle, sometimes drivers behind you insist to leave the lane through the blinking of headlights (it's called Lichthuppe in German). Just ignore them and complete your passing course.

6. Yellow lines

On under construction areas of a road, yellow lines have priority over normal white road lines. They are temporary lines just marked to regulate traffic in areas under construction.

7. Entry and exit points

Entry to Autobahns is only allowed at officially designated points marked by sign 330 Autobahn entry sign. Similarly leaving Autobahn is only authorized at marked exit points, sign 333 Autobahn exit sign. (Please check the full list of traffic signs).

While entering autobahn, drivers must yield the right-of-way to vehicles on the autobahn and using the outer-right merging lane (a thick broken white line), drivers must make sure that the road is clear before accelerating and entering.

Vehicles using exit lanes at autobahn intersections may drive faster than vehicles in the lane to their left after reaching the broken white lines that designate the exit lanes have begun (significantly wider traffic lane marking shortly before restricted area).

Autobahns have dividing strips in the center next to guardrails. Crossing dividing strips is illegal.

8. Use of hard shoulders

Autobahns have hard-surface shoulders. Traffic is not allowed on these shoulders in normal conditions, also in case of congestion. The only reason to drive on these hard-surface shoulders is mechanical trouble in a vehicle. In some special conditions, sign 223.1-51 use of hard shoulder allowed allows to travel on hard shoulders. While sign 511 shift to hard shoulder indicates all the traffic on the adjacent lane to hard shoulder must shift to the hard shoulder.

9. Rescue lane (Rettungsgasse)

Emergency vehicles have right of way and other vehicles must clear their way. During congestions on Autobahn, emergency vehicles normally approach from the middle of the road. Other vehicles must move right and left respectively to clear their way.
To read more about how to form rescue lane/emergency alley please visit this page, In case of Accident.

Actions Prohibited on Autobahn are:

Important Road Signs on Autobahn

Autobahn start sign
Sign 330.1

Start of Autobahn. From this point on, all rules and regulations governing the Autobahn must be obeyed. Hitchhiking beyond this point is prohibited.

end of Autobahn
Sign 330.2

End of Autobahn. Posted just before the end of the autobahn. This sign may indicate the distance in meters to the end of the Autobahn.

Direction to nearest Autobahn
Sign 430-10

Direction to nearest Autobahn entrance and nearest city through this Autobahn.

ausfahrt sign
Sign 333

Authorized exit from Autobahn Posted at autobahn exits. Exits marked by this sign are the only authorized exits from the Autobahn.

"Ausfahrt" means "Exit"

Exit board on Autobahn to a city
Sign 332

Exit board on Autobahn (Indicates exit to the mentioned city/cities. Mainz and Wiesbaden are names of cities).

Distance to the next exit on Autobahn
Sign 449

Shows the distance to the next exit for the towns listed. The top of the sign shows the route number drivers will enter at the exit and the next major city that can be reached on that route. Below that, the sign shows the first two towns or cities that can be reached on this route, with the closest town shown at the bottom.

Direction to other Autobahns
Sign 440

Direction to other Autobahns with city names and highway or Autobahn numbers. Yellow colored name indicates federal highway (highways other than Autobahn) route to the mentioned city.

Autobahn distance sign
Sign 453

Autobahn distance sign, showing distance to major cities. Below the line are major cities via intersection along with their respective Autobahn number. Here, A44 (Autobahn 44) is route to city of Kassel which is 161 km away.

Autobahn exit number with distance
Sign 448

This sign indicates a Autobahn exit or a motorway interchange. The number in the circle indicates the interchange number.

This particular example means next exit from Autobahn is to city of Düsseldorf-Berath. This exit number is 26 and it is 1000 meter away now.

Autobahn exit number
Sign 406-50
A second level Autobahn exit number
Sign 406-51

Autobahn interchange/exit number. Every exit and interchange on Autobahn has a unique number, whether it's an exit to a rest area, another federal road or another Autobahn.

service area on Autobahn
Sign 448-1

Noticeboard indicating a 24-hour service area.

"Autohof" means "Service Area". 27 is the exit number.

Number of German Autobahn
Sign 405

Indicates the number of the German Autobahn. Here A48 (Autobahn 48).

Direction sign inside a city or on Autobahn
Sign 434-52

Direction sign inside a city or on Autobahn. Here, showing the direction to Autobahn, Messe (fair), and two nearest cities with their respective highway number (if applicable). Yellow sings represent German federal highway and white signs are used to indicate a local area and small roads. Autobahn signs are always in blue color.

Autobahn exit marker 100 meters before exit
Sign 450-50

Autobahn exit marker; 100m before exit. Each diagonal white stripe indicates 100 meters.

Autobahn exit marker 200 meters before exit
Sign 450-51

Autobahn exit marker; 200m before exit.

Autobahn exit marker 300 meters before exit
Sign 450-52

Autobahn exit marker; 300m before exit.

Kilometer marker on Autobahn

Kilometer marker on Autobahn. They are installed after every half kilometer (500 meters). They can be used as location reference in case of emergency. Emergency services may ask about this kilometer number near the point of emergency and Autobahn direction.

The left sign indicates exit number 32 ahead. The right sign indicates junction number 33 ahead. The yellow pole in the image is an emergency telephone post.

Photographed by Tage Olsin

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Road Sings and Markings in the Construction Areas or on the Routes having danger of traffic congestion

General danger/warning sign
Sign 101

General danger/warning sign. Indicates approaching dangerous area.A supplementary sign may explain the danger.

road works
Sign 123

Road works. Be aware of workers.

traffic jam
Sign 124

Indicates that a traffic jam (Stau) may be ahead.

Narrow passage ahead
Sign 120

Narrow passage ahead. This is not normal Autobahn sign, as Autobahn doesn't has normally narrow passages, about construction sites on Autobahn may have narrow passages.

Autobahn detour
Sign 460-50

Autobahn detour sign. This sign is normally posted with a white color supplementary sign that indicates the distance to detour.

Autobahn detour, turn left Autobahn detour, straight ahead Autobahn detour, turn right
Sign 460-11, 460-30, 460-21

Autobahn detour direction signs, indicating turn left, straight ahead, and turn right respectively.

Autobahn detour, turn left after the sign Autobahn detour, turn right after the sign
Sign 460-10, 460-20

Autobahn detour direction signs; these signs give advance information about turns i.e. turn left or right after the sign. While straight arrow turn left to left or right indicates just right or left respectively.

Autobahn detour direction
Sign 460-12

Autobahn detour direction sign; arrange in the left lane.

Autobahn detour direction sign; arrange in the right lane
Sign 460-22

Autobahn detour direction sign; arrange in the right lane.

Recommended alternate Autobahn route during heavy traffic or traffic jams. Turn left Recommended alternate Autobahn route during heavy traffic or traffic jams. Turn right
Sign 467.1-10, 467.1-20

Recommended alternate Autobahn route during heavy traffic or traffic jams. There can be a supplementary sign below indicating specific vehicles to take the recommended route.

Recommended alternate Autobahn route during heavy traffic or traffic jams. Straight ahead
Sign 467.1-30

Recommended alternate Autobahn route; indicating straight ahead.

End of alternate route
Sign 467.2

End of alternate route.

Route back to Autobahn after detour
Sign 466

Indicates the route, in solid black lines, to take to get back on the autobahn after having been detoured.

A Layout of the detour route
Sign 458

An example layout of a detour route. It indicates road straight ahead is closed. Turn left, follow the route through village A and Village B, then turn right to take the route to the city of Stuttgart.

Return to earlier split lane
Sign 501-26

Indicates return to earlier split lane.

Sign 501-10, 501-11, 501-12

Detouring onto opposite lane. All lanes shift to the left of the median.

Sign 501-20, 501-21, 501-22

Detouring onto opposite lane. All lanes shift to the right of the median.

Sign 501-13, 501-14, 501-15

Lanes are splitting towards left of the median, as indicated in signs respectively. Sign 501-13 and 501-14 indicates one lane must crossover. Sign 501-15 indicates two of three lanes must shift to left.

Sign 501-23, 501-24, 501-25

Lanes are splitting towards right of the median, as showed in signs respectively. Sign 501-23 and 501-24 indicates one lane must crossover. Sign 501-25 indicates two of three lanes must shift to left.

Sign 501-16, 501-17, 501-18

From straight ahead moving traffic, lanes are splitting towards the left of the median.

Shift to right hard shoulder
Sign 511-25

Shift to right hard shoulder.

One lane shift to right hard shoulder
Sign 511-26

One lane shift to right hard shoulder.

Sign 460-50

Autobahn detour sign. This sign is normally posted with a white color supplementary sign that indicates the distance to detour.

Sign 460-11, 460-30, 460-21

Autobahn detour direction signs, indicating turn left, straight ahead, and turn right respectively.

Use of hard shoulder as driving lane permitted
Sign 223.1-51

Use of hard shoulder as driving lane permitted.

No more use of hard shoulder as driving lane permitted
Sign 223.2-51

No more use of hard shoulder as driving lane permitted.

Leave the hard shoulder and merge to left lane.
Sign 223.3-51

Leave the hard shoulder and merge to left lane.

Click here to see the list of all German traffic signboards.

In the construction area, yellow road markings have priority over normal white road markings.

Yellow lines on road

Yellow lines in construction area

Where possible, normal road signs are gradually being replaced by digital road signs.

Digital road signs Germany

An example of digital road signs, at the moment showing the danger of congestion ahead.

Photographed by Flor!an

Autobahn Map

Autobahn are spread throughout Germany. The total length of Autobahn in Germany at the end of 2018 was 12,996 km (8,075 mi). More and more two-lane roads (Two-lane Expressways) are being converted into Autobahn. There are 9 major Autobahns (A1 to A9). Which are connected with the second level and third level Autobahns. The second level Autobahns have two numbers in their names, for example, A12 and third level Autobahns are indicated by three digits for example A111. These third level Autobahns are normally ring roads, connecting two cities or two longer Autobahns.

Following is the map of 9 major Autobahns, from A1 to A9.

Autobahn map A1 - A9

Below image is the spread patteren of Autobahn10 to Autobahn999.

Autobahn map A10 - A999

For see more detailed numbering of Autobahn, please see this map.

Which Autobahn sections are without speed limits?

The exact answer to the above question is not possible because speed limits are not permanently implemented. Speed limits are constantly changing on different sections of Autobahn.

Generally, Autobahns of former East German states have relatively low traffic. The best time for high speeding is during the weeks days and in the night hours especially after 12 A.M to 5 A.M.

Best time to enjoy the high speed on German Autobahn is when German national soccer team is playing. The whole nation enjoys the soccer match and Autobahn are free for high speeds.

Routes on Autobahn suitable for highspeed and with relatively low traffic

As per December 2018 update, following unrestricted (without speed limit) Autobahn sections are still noticed with relatively low traffic and are suitable for high speeds (above 120kph or 75mph).

A1: from Hamburg to Lübeck, between AS Bargteheide and Kreuz Lübeck

A1: from Schweich to Wittlich

A14: from Dresden to intersection with Hannover

A2: from Bad Oeynhausen to Bielefeld Ost

A2: from Halle to Magdeburg

A20: from junction with E251 to Rostock

A23: in Schleswig-Holstein from Pinneberg Nord to Itzehoe Süd and from Itzehoe Nord to Heide Süd

A24: the section between Hamburg and the Wittstock / Dosse intersection

A261: from Buchholzer Dreieck to interchange Hamburg-Südwest (both directions)

A27: between Bremen and Bremerhaven, from Ihlpohl to Stotel

A28: from Oldenburg Wechloy to the parking lot in front of Westerstede

A28: from Raststätte Hasbruch Nord to Kreuz Oldenburg Ost

A28: from Westerstede West to Dreieck Leer

A3: Oberhausen direction Cologne (direction south), between intersection Kaiserberg and intersection Breitscheid. Only in this direction. The opposite direction has speed limit of 120kph (75mph).

A3: between Straubing Autobahn entry / exit number 106 to Rosenhof entry / exit 103 in both directions and A3 till border of Holland

A3: from Siegburg direction Frankfurt – Westerwald

A3: shortly after Regensburg until shortly before Nuremberg

A30: from the Dutch border to the Lotter Kreuz (just before Osnabrück), exception: Schüttorfer Kreuz (interchange A30 / A31)

A33: on the section between Dissen / Bad Rothenfelde and the interchange Osnabrück-Süd

A38: whole section has low traffic

A39: Coming from Hamburg until just before Lüneburg Nord

A4: from Bucha to Klettbach

A4: between Gerstungen and Erfurf in both directions

A42: from the end of Oberhausen direction Dortmund to Herne Wanne

A42: from Herne Crange to Duisburg until beginning of Oberhausen

A43: from AK Münster Süd to the exit Recklinghausen / Herten

A52: from exit Marl Frentrop to AK Marl Nord

A44: from Düsseldorf-Nord to Flughafen Düsseldorf (Duesseldorf airport) in both directions

A45: between Gambach intersection (Gambacher Kreuz) and Gießen south intersection (Gießener Südkreuz)

A46: from Heinsberg to intersection Wanlo

A485: from Gießener Südkreuz to the junction with the B3 in direction north

A49: from Neuental to Baunatal-Süd

A5: between Basel (Swiss border) and Bad Bellingen

A5: between between Autobahn exit number 37 Heidelberg and 26 Darmstadt intersection (Darmstädter Kreuz)

A5: between Karlsruhe and Walldorf

A5: from Grenze Weil am Rhein to Höhe Bad Bellingen

A52: From Elmpt to Mönchengladbach höhe Wolfskull, and vice versa A52 from Mönchengladbach-Neuwerk to Kreuz Kaarst

A524: in Duisburg, between Kreuz Breitscheid and Duisburg Rahm

A57: from Kreuzung Kaarst to interchange Neuss-West

A59: from beginning A46 to exit Rheindorf

A6: Between Kreuz Weinsberg (~ 500 meters after the driveway) and Bretzfeld

A6: from Bischmisheim to just beyond Waldmohr

A6: from Frankthaler Kreuz to Grünstadt

A6: from Hockenheim to Sinsheim

A60: between Bingen Ost and Heidesheim

A60: from Wittlich to the end of the extension at Prüm

A61: from Dannstadt until shortly before the exit on the B9 to Speyer

A61: from intersection Mönchengladbach to the border of Holland

A63: Between Mainz (Saulheim) and Kaiserslautern

A65: between Haßloch and Landau-Nord (only this direction)

A66: between Wiesbaden-Nordenstadt and Frankfurt Zeilsheim (both directions)

A671: Mainz-Wiesbaden in both directions from the Mainbrücke bei Hochheim to the junction with A66

A7: between HH-Waltershof and Maschener Kreuz (only in direction south)

A7: in the direction of Kassel from the Göttingen exit until shortly before the intersection Drammetal

A7: north of Kassel-Nord crosses the Ellenbachstraße on the highway. From this bridge to the border of state of Lower Saxony is no speed limit.

A70: from the intersection Schweinfurt / Werneck to the exit Bamberg / harbor with the exception of the tunnel Schwarzer Berg. Tunnel has speed camera.

A71: between intersection Südharz and intersection Erfurt-Nord

A73: from Lichtenfels to Bamberg and vice versa. You can drive fast here from Höhe Bad Staffelstein.

A8: from junction A623 / A8 to Heusweiler

A8: from Luxembourg border to Tunnel Pellinger Berg (in both directions)

A8: from Merzig to exit Rehlingen-Siersburg (in both directions)

A8: from Wurmberg to intersection Leonberg

A9: from berlin to A4 Leipzig

A9: from Halle to Leipzig

A9: from Marktschorgast to Berg/Bad Steben (This section of A9 is famous for high speeding.)

A9: from Marktschorgast to Berg / Bad Steben

A92: only the section from Moosburg Nord to Landshut (Altdorf) has speed limit of 120kph (75mph), otherwise no limits on A92.

A93: from Weiden to Regenstauf in both directions

A96: from Lindau to interchange Memmingen

B15: in direction north

B15: in direction north from Kläham / Ergolsbach up to the intersection Saalhaupt

B9: in the Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz), from the junction Germersheim to Karlsruhe. Though it's two lane Autobahn, but often empty.

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