Germany Traffic Rules
The traffic rules in Germany can be different from the rules your home country. We sum up the most important general rules for you.
Driving under the influence
The maximum permitted alcohol content in the blood is 0.5 per mille.
For drivers who have the driving license for less than two years or who are under the age of 21, an absolute ban on alcohol applies.
It is forbidden to drive under the influence of drugs.
It is prohibited for drivers of vehicles (including cyclists) to hold a mobile phone while driving. Note: Even if a motorized vehicle is stationary in a traffic jam or a red traffic light, the driver may not hold a mobile phone. Holding a mobile phone is only allowed when the engine is switched off. It is also forbidden to hold a tablet, e-reader, iPod, calculator or similar equipment while driving.
Hands-free calling is allowed.
The use of headphones or earpieces is permitted, unless the sound is too loud and the ambient noise is no longer audible. The use of only one ear is recommended.
It is allowed to use a smartphone to navigate. However, the driver may not hold the smartphone in his hand, but must, for example, place it in a holder. Reading messages (mail, SMS, whatsapp, etc.) on the smartphone while driving is prohibited.
To calculate the correct minimum distance in meters between your car and the car in front of you, you have to drive in Germany the speed at which you are driving, by two parts (in Germany this is called halach Tacho). So if you drive for example 100 km / h, you have to keep at least 50 meters distance (converted in time, regardless of speed, a distance of 1.8 seconds). In case of slipperiness, poor visibility or bad road conditions, you have to keep an even greater distance in relation to the car in front of you.
Note: The police in Germany violently violates this rule; You can already get a fine if you, as a motorist, keep anything less than Halber Tacho away.
Pedestrians in Germany are obliged to walk outside the built-up area on the left side of the road if a footpath is missing because they are better noticed by oncoming traffic. Within the built-up area they may also walk to the right of the road if a footpath is missing.
Basic traffic rules
You have to drive on the right and overtake on the left.
As a basic rule, at a crossroads drivers of right have priority, unless otherwise indicated. This rule does not apply to drivers who come from the right, but are on a dirt road, residential area or driveway with a reduced curb.
In Germany it is not indicated with shark teeth, but with a thick dashed line that drivers should give priority to drivers on a crossing road.
Trams have priority over pedestrians who want to cross a pedestrian crossing (zebra crossing). Trams have no absolute priority over other vehicles.
When a lane is closed, you are obliged to zips (Reißverschlussverfahren), which means that motorists have to enter the lane just before the end of the lane and that motorists must alternately make room on the through lane inserting motorists from the falling lane.
You can get a fine if you insert too early on the lane or if you do not make room for an inserting driver on the through lane.
Rising traffic generally takes precedence over falling traffic, but on narrow mountain roads it is expected that the vehicle that is easiest to disembark or drive back will give priority.
Usually at the beginning of a roundabout, a blue round traffic sign for roundabouts with above it a triangular white priority sign with a red border, which means that drivers who want to enter the roundabout must give priority to the drivers who are already driving at the roundabout.
In residential areas, however, you sometimes have roundabouts where the priority sign is missing. In that case, drivers on the roundabout should give priority to drivers coming from the right, just like on a regular intersection.
When leaving the roundabout, drivers must give priority to pedestrians, but pedestrians do not have priority over drivers who enter the roundabout.
When approaching and approaching the roundabout, you can not indicate a direction. When leaving the roundabout you have to indicate direction to the right.
At a roundabout without a priority sign, however, you must indicate direction when you approach the roundabout and when you leave the roundabout.
You may not overtake liner buses and school buses that indicate stop at a stop with a warning flashing light. If the bus is stopped at a stop, you may carefully drive it past. If the bus has a warning flashing light while it is stationary, you can only pass the bus at walking pace. If annoyance can arise for passengers getting in and out, you have to stop and wait. This rule also applies to oncoming drivers on the same lane.
You have to overtake a moving tram on the right, but if there is not enough space on the right, you can overtake the tram on the left. In one-way streets you can overtake a tram on both sides. You must give priority to passengers who enter or leave a tram.
Note: A traffic sign indicating a catch-up prohibition means a ban on overtaking vehicles with more than two wheels. A car may overtake an engine. However, an engine can not overtake a car.
If you overtake a cyclist with your car, you must keep at least 1 m away from the cyclist.
A overtaking prohibition for trucks also applies to motorhomes with a maximum permitted mass of more than 3500 kg.
Among other things, it is forbidden to stand still in narrow and / or unclear streets and in sharp bends.
Zigzag lines on the carriageway indicate a zone where it is forbidden to stand still (and park).
It is forbidden to park on the left side of the road (against the direction of traffic), also in parking spaces on the left. You can park on the left side of a street with one-way traffic.
Please note: If a traffic sign with a parking ban has a lower sign on which the working tags with a time period are listed, this parking ban also applies on Saturdays (with werkags being Monday to Saturday). If a parking ban does not apply in the weekend, the board will indicate Mo-Fr.
Middle passage at traffic jam
If traffic jams occur on car (fast) roads, drivers are obliged to release a Rettungsgasse (middle passage for the emergency services). This means that the drivers have to drive as far as possible on the right or on the left, so that sufficient space is created in the middle for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and police cars.
If a traffic jam occurs on roads with more than two lanes per direction, the drivers on the left-most lane must drive as far as possible on the left and the drivers on the other lanes as far as possible on the right.
In road works it is often prohibited to drive on the left lane if the vehicle or combination, including exterior mirrors, is 2 m or wider. This prohibition is indicated by a round white sign with a red border on which 2 m is mentioned.
Traffic rules car
Traffic rules car
It is only compulsory during the day to carry light when the visibility is less than 50 m due to fog, snow or rain.
Dim lights should be used in tunnels.
In Germany, it is advisable to use low beam or daytime running lights during the day.
Fog lights may only be used when visibility is less than 50 m.
Children under 12 years of age or less than 1.50 m must be fitted with seat belts on seats in an approved and appropriate child seat or on an approved and appropriate booster seat.
If a child is transported with his back to the front, in a child seat, the airbag must be switched off.
Children under the age of 3 are not allowed to be transported in a car if a child seat or seat belts are missing. Children aged 3 years and over and less than 1.50 m may not be transported in the front.
Cargo must not project at the front of a vehicle.
At the rear, the load may project up to 1.50 m, but if the load is transported over a distance of less than 100 km, it may protrude no more than 3 m.
When the load protrudes more than 1 m backwards, a bright red flag of 30 x 30 cm (applied to a crossbar) or a light red shield of 30 x 30 cm must be used. In the dark, a rear light and a reflector must also be fitted at the far end of the load.
In the width the load may protrude no more than 40 cm from the vehicle lights. Broader cargo must be marked. The maximum width of a vehicle including cargo is 2.55 m excluding mirrors (these must be collapsible).
Bicycles may protrude a maximum of 40 cm on both sides of the car, with the total width of the car including bike carrier not being more than 2.55 m.
Towing is permitted up to the nearest garage.
Towing the motorway is allowed until the first exit at the latest.
A vehicle towing the motorway is forbidden.
The tow rope or bar must be a maximum of 5 m long and marked with a red flag in the middle.
Both towing and towed vehicles must have hazard lights. If the warning lights of the vehicle to be towed do not work, the vehicle may not be towed by private individuals.
It is recommended not to drive faster than 40 km / h when towing.
Maximum speed in Germany
|City||Outside city||Roads with separate lanes and 4 lanes||Highways|
|Passenger cars, delivery vans, motorhomes, maximum allowed mass <3500 kg and engines||50||100||130 (A)||130 (A)|
|Campers > 3500 kg||50||80||100||100|
|Passenger / delivery vans, maximum permitted mass <3500 kg with trailer / caravan||50||80||80 (B)||80 (B)|
|Motorcycles with trailer||50||60||60||60|
In residential areas and in the vicinity of children playing and / or elderly or disabled people, it is not allowed to drive faster than walking pace.
A: This is not a maximum speed but a target speed.
B: Cars with a trailer approved by TÜV Nord may be 100 km / h. A so-called Tempo-100 exemption can be applied for.
If the visibility in fog, snowfall or heavy rain is 50 m or less, the maximum speed is 50 km / h.
On motorways only vehicles are permitted that are allowed to drive at least 60 km / h.
On motorways with 3 lanes per direction of travel, the leftmost lane may not be used by vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3500 kg or vehicles towing a trailer, unless this is necessary to turn off.
Speed camera signaling
Bringing and using radar detection equipment is prohibited.
The transportation and use of equipment with signaling for fixed speed cameras or route checks (such as navigation equipment, telephones, tablets and laptops) is also prohibited. The speed camera signaling function must be deactivated on these devices. Motorists are advised to remove all safety camera information from this equipment.
Note: If a road sign with a maximum speed has a bottom sign that mentions ‘work tags’ with a time period, this maximum speed also applies to Saturdays (with ‘work tags’ means Monday to Saturday). If a maximum speed does not apply in the weekend, the bottom board will indicate ‘Mo-Fr’.
During periods with high temperatures, heat damage can occur to older cars (fast) roads with a road surface of concrete slabs and a lower maximum speed may apply for these roads (parts of these roads can also be closed).
An orange band with white stripes underneath and above that is placed on a lamppost means that this lamp post does not light up all night.
A rectangular white board with a black border and a black image of an inline skater or roller skater and the text Frei along a certain road indicates that inline skaters and roller skaters may use this road.
Traffic rules caravan and trailer
Traffic rules caravan and trailer
Width combination (excluding mirrors): 2.55 m (A)
Combination height: 4 m
Trailer length (incl. drawbar): 12 m (B)
Length combination: 18 m (B)
A: Mirrors are not included in the width, provided that they are collapsible. Note: if a maximum width of 2 m is indicated for road works for the left lane, this is the width including mirrors.
B: A possible bicycle carrier on the back is included in the length.
Cars towing a caravan must always be equipped with rear-view mirrors on both sides.
It is mandatory to carry two wheel chocks for a caravan or trailer of more than 750 kg.
A car with a caravan or trailer may not drive on motorways with three or more lanes in one direction on the left-most lane, unless this is necessary to turn left.
Extra wide trailer
For transport of a trailer that is wider than 2.55 m, a special permit must be applied for at a branch of the German Strassenverkehrsamt. Preferably a branch as close as possible to the Dutch border. The fees for a permit can vary considerably per location and it is therefore worthwhile to request them in advance. Addresses of branches can be found on strassenverkehrsamt.de.
Often, requirements are also imposed on the towing vehicle.
- In Germany on Sundays and public holidays, and during the holiday months also on Saturdays, a driving ban applies to trucks and company cars (regardless of their weight) towing a trailer.
- This driving ban also applied to company cars with trailer that were used for private trips, but the law governing the driving ban was amended on 19 October 2017 and now the driving ban only applies to vehicles used for the transport of goods for business purposes or transport of goods for a fee.
- The driving ban now no longer applies to private journeys with company cars for sporting or recreational purposes, so for example not to a camper or van that tows a caravan, a car that tows a horse trailer and is on its way to a jumping competition or a company van with a tent trailer behind it.
Traffic rules moped
Traffic rules moped
Mopeds and light mopeds
- In Germany, a moped is called a (Leicht) Mofa and a moped is a Moped or Kleinkraftrad.
- The maximum speed of a scooter is 45 km / h and the minimum age for riding is 16 years.
- The maximum speed of a Mofa is 25 km / h and the minimum age for riding is 15 years.
Wearing a helmet is mandatory for both the Mofa and the Moped. Note: So also light moped riders have to wear a helmet in Germany.
It is mandatory to also have low beam during the day.
Transporting passengers is only permitted if a handle and footrests are present and traffic is not obstructed.
Children under the age of 7 may only be transported in a child seat. The wheels must be protected in such a way that the hands or feet can not get caught between the spokes.
Place on the road
In the built-up area, moped riders are only allowed to ride on a bicycle path if the round blue sign Bicycle path is provided with a bottom sign with the image of a moped and the text frei. However, they are also allowed to drive on the roadway.
Outside of built-up areas, light-moped riders can always use the bike path (unless the traffic sign Bike Path has a sign with the text keine Mofas). If you move the moped only with the pedals, this is even mandatory.
Mopeds may only use the roadway unless otherwise indicated.
A trailer may be coupled to a moped.
Traffic rules bicycle
Traffic rules bicycle
- Wearing a helmet is not mandatory.
- However, wearing a bicycle helmet is recommended especially for children.
Lighting and other requirements
- For the bicycle, the light must have the color white or yellow and the color red on the back of the bicycle. This may also be separate lights.
- Bikes must have a red rear reflector, a white reflector in front of and yellow reflectors on the pedals and the spokes.
- Instead of reflectors on the spokes, a reflective circular strip on the bands is also allowed.
- The bicycle must also be equipped with well-functioning brakes and a bell.
- Persons of 16 years or older may carry a child younger than 7 years on the bicycle, provided that the bicycle has a proper seat with supports for hands and feet and the wheels are so protected that the legs can not get between the spokes.
- Children up to 8 years old have to cycle on the sidewalk, even if there is a bike path.
- Children up to 8 years old can also not cross a road; they have to do that on foot.
- Children aged 8-10 years can choose between the sidewalk and bike path or the street if there is no cycle path. On the sidewalk they must always give priority to pedestrians.
- Parents who accompany cycling children can also ride on the sidewalk.
- You are allowed to ride a bicycle with a trailer attached to it.
- Trailers from after 1 January 2018 should be provided with the right lighting depending on their size.
Cycling under the influence
- The maximum permitted alcohol content in the blood is 1.6 per mille.
- Even if the permillage is lower, but the cyclist is visibly under the influence and can no longer drive the bicycle, a fine can be given.
- Cyclists are prohibited from holding a mobile phone while driving.
- Hands-free calling is allowed. The use of headphones or earpieces is permitted, unless the sound is too loud and the ambient noise is no longer audible. The use of only one ear is recommended.
Driving next to each other
- Riding alongside each other is only permitted on a bicycle path which is separated from the road by an elevation or grass strip, if this does not hinder other traffic.
Place on the road
- When there is a mandatory cycle path (around blue sign with white bicycle), cyclists must use it.
- When there is no mandatory bicycle path, cyclists may cycle on the road, unless a road sign indicates that this is prohibited. On car (fast) roads (Autobahn, Autobahnähnliche Strasse, Kraftfahrstrasse) cycling is prohibited.
- On combined cycling / walking paths, use must be made of the part intended for cyclists or, if no separation is provided, the speed must be adjusted so as not to endanger pedestrians.
- An electric bicycle with pedal assistance up to 25 km / h and a power of up to 250 watts, is considered to be an ordinary bicycle for which the same rules apply as for a bicycle.
- Also an electric bicycle with pedal assistance up to 25 km / h and a power of up to 250 that can reach a speed of up to 6 km / h as extra riding support (Anfahrhilfe) without measuring stages, is considered a normal bicycle.
- Drivers of an electric bicycle are advised to wear a bicycle helmet.
- Where possible, electric bicycles should run on the bike path.
- For electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 45 km / h (S-Pedelec), the same rules apply as for mopeds.
- The minimum age to ride on a speedpedelec is 16 years and the driver must be in possession of the moped driver’s license.
- The driver of a speedpedelec is obliged to wear a suitable helmet (geeigneten Schutzhelm). The rules for wearing a helmet on a speedpedelec have not yet been specified, but the driver of a speedpedelec must in any case wear a bicycle helmet. As far as is known, it is permitted in Germany to wear a special speedpedelec helmet (standard NTA 8776: 2016) instead of a normal moped helmet.
- Speedpedelecs may not ride on the bike path.
- It is forbidden to carry passengers on the speedpedelec, even in a child seat. Also linking a trailer is prohibited.
In Germany there are special bicycle streets (Fahrradstrassen) where only cyclists are allowed to drive, unless an additional sign indicates something else, such as Kfz-Verkehr frei (motorized traffic allowed) or Anlieger frei (residents allowed). However, other vehicles are not allowed to overtake or hinder cyclists and should not drive faster than 30 km / h. Such streets are marked with a white square sign containing a blue circle with a white bicycle with the text Fahrradstraße below.
Traffic rules Motor
Traffic rules Motor
Wearing a helmet is mandatory for both driver and passenger.
The driver and passenger (s) of a trike or quad must wear a helmet unless their seat is fitted with a safety belt.
Ducting low beam during the day is mandatory.
Motorcyclists are also allowed to use daytime running lights during the day. Please note: in tunnels, in low light and in poor visibility (due to fog, rain or snow, for example), daytime running lights are not sufficient and low beam must be used.
Transporting a passenger is permitted, provided that a special seat (duo or buddy seat) and footrests are present.
Children under the age of seven may only be transported in an approved child seat suitable for them.
It is allowed to connect a trailer to an engine. The maximum width for trailers of engines is 1 m.
Motorcyclists are not allowed to drive between the stationary or slow-moving cars in a traffic jam.
Note: With a traffic sign indicating a catch-up prohibition, engines may not overtake vehicles with more than two wheels. However, engines may be overtaken.
A motor cycle may not be towed.
- Mandatory in winter conditions – If winter conditions require it, the use of winter tires is mandatory. This statutory regulation also applies to Dutch cars and motorhomes. The winter tire requirement does not apply to engines.
- Winter conditions are sleet, slipperiness due to snow or snow mud and slipperiness due to ice or frost formation.
- Winter tires must have a snowflake symbol, but even tires with only the indication M + S manufactured before 1 January 2018 are considered winter tires. See ‘New requirements since 1-1-2018’ below.
- Winter tires must legally have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm, but a minimum of 4 mm is recommended.
- When winter tires are fitted, the driver must adhere to the prescribed maximum speed for these tires. This maximum speed is indicated with a letter code on the side of the tire. If the maximum speed of the winter tires is lower than that of the car, a sticker must be affixed on the dashboard inside the driver’s field of vision with the maximum speed of the tires.
- Winter tires must be mounted on all wheels, but they are not mandatory for trailers. For safety reasons, however, it is advisable to equip a trailer with winter tires in winter conditions.
- Note: If you drive in winter without a winter tire in winter conditions, you risk a fine, but if you also cause a traffic jam because the summer tires do not have enough grip on the road surface, the fine may be higher. If you drive on summer tires in winter conditions and cause an accident, not fitting winter tires can be seen as gross negligence.
New requirements since 1-1-2018
- Are you planning to buy new winter tires, choose tires with a snowflake symbol (mountain icon with snowflake, also called alpine symbol or 3PMSF). In Germany, tires that are manufactured after 31 December 2017 are only valid as winter tires if they have a snowflake symbol on them. This symbol indicates that the tires have been tested and found suitable for use in winter conditions.
- If you have winter tires with only an M + S symbol, you can continue to use them in Germany, if they are manufactured before 2018. Only after September 30, 2024, these tires are no longer regarded as winter tires.
- The production date of the tire can be read in the DOT code (DOT stands for Department of Transportation) and is on the side of the tire. The last four digits of this code indicate the week and year in which the tire was produced. For example, the figures 3917 are for week 39 in 2017.
- Required on board – In mountainous areas, snow chains may be required in winter conditions when indicated by a round, blue sign bearing a white car tire with a snow chain.
- If snow chains are used, the maximum speed is 50 km / h.
- Plastic snow chains are allowed if they meet the legal requirements.
- Prohibited – The use of studded tires is prohibited.
- The use of studded tires is only permitted on the route from Salzburg via Bad Reichenhall to Lofer and on access roads to Austrian valleys that can only be reached via German roads.
If winter conditions so require, the use of antifreeze in the windscreen washer fluid is mandatory.
Note: It is the responsibility of the driver of a car to ensure that the rental car has the required winter equipment. When booking a rental car in Germany in the winter period, it is advisable to ask the lessor to provide a rental car that has the right winter equipment (winter tires and antifreeze). The lessor may charge extra costs for winter tires.
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