Life in the Fast Lane

31 Jul

Driving in a new country is never an easy affair, but heading down the German Autobahn for the first time might not be quite what you would expect.

German highways are renowned for their fast cars and drivers. So you can imagine my surprise when, after the initial stress of being unable to read the road signs subsided, I realized that I was actually driving slower here than in France!

Does this mean that the idea that you can drive as fast as you want down German highways is a myth? The answer is yes…and no. In fact, it is just not that simple. Several factors seem to come into play.

In certain zones there ARE speed limits.

On the portion I took of the A6, the speed limit fluctuated anywhere from 60 kilometers/hour in work zones (about 40 mph) to 130 km/hour (about 80 mph). Even if in certain zones there is, in fact, no posted speed limit, these zones do not necessarily cover much mileage, and before you know it you find yourself slowing down to 60 km/hr again.

So is there really any point in driving upwards of 160 km/hr if you spend your time speeding up and slowing down every 10 minutes?  Honestly, I am still not quite sure what to think myself as the car I was driving could not make it past 120 km/hr under the ridiculous weight of the luggage.

Little room for compromise.

I did conclude, however, that you basically have two choices: the fast lane or the slow lane. Large trucks and trailers are more restricted and stay in the right lane, while BMWs and Audis zip by in the left lane. As a result, on primarily two-lane highways there is no middle ground, and trying to pass a truck going 90 km/hr becomes practically impossible with a steady stream of cars whipping by at over 130 km/hr on the left.

Are you feeling daring?

To sum things up, I am not sure I would plan a trip to Germany just to see its highways, but if you have the chance to pass through and are feeling daring my only advice would be that you keep to the left.

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2 Responses to “Life in the Fast Lane”

  1. Ned Brown July 31, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Well, maybe there are rules on the Autobahn, and that is sort of a BUMMER, but it still sounds more interesting than driving southbound on the stretch of road between Hillsboro and the north side of Austin.

  2. E. July 31, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Well, you’d have the same issues if you were driving in Italy !! You’ll get used to it, don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time !!

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