World news story

Driving safely in Germany

It can be fun, fun, fun on the Autobahn once you’ve done your homework

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Drive safely in Germany
Driving safely in Germany, Copyright: Bodo Brüsehaber

Consular staff in Germany and across Europe will be promoting the “Drive safely in Europe” campaign ahead of the UK Easter holidays showcasing their new video highlighting what British people should do before they drive in other European countries.

Drive safely in Europe

Every year more and more British drivers are heading to Europe. Last year close to 2.5 million vehicles travelled from the UK to France on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle alone. Many more British visitors travel to mainland Europe by sea or rent hire cars during their stay.

The vast majority of British drivers and their passengers will have a safe and trouble-free journey. Every year, however, Consular staff provide assistance to British travellers involved in road traffic accidents and incidents.

Incidents involving British drivers often occur due to a lack of familiarity with the local regulations and driving conditions. The latest FCO Know Before You Go video wants to encourage drivers to properly prepare for their trip and to be aware of the main differences in driving conditions and regulations.

To steer clear of trouble when driving in Germany, follow our top tips:

  • Remember to drive on the right – this might sound obvious but many British drivers admit to having ‘near miss’ experiences due to a momentary lapse in concentration. Stay alert and avoid distractions to help you keep right while in Europe;
  • Know the speed limits and remember they will be displayed in kilometres per hour: 130kph = 80mph, 110kph = 68mph, 50mph = 31mph. Penalties for speeding offences can be harsher than in the UK;
  • Carry the right equipment in your car – in Germany it is a legal requirement to use winter or all season tyres during winter weather conditions. Although not compulsory for visiting UK motorists, it is strongly advised to carry a warning triangle, first aid kit and set of replacement bulbs;
  • Cars with a GPS navigation system that can detect the location of speed cameras must have this function deactivated;
  • Make sure you have all the correct documents with you. Don’t set off without your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration, insurance documents and travel insurance;
  • Don’t drink and drive. The legal blood-alcohol limit is lower in Germany than it is in the UK. Random testing is common and fines are heavy;
  • Make sure your breakdown insurance covers you for driving in Germany and repatriating your car to the UK. Leaving your car in a German garage when you return to the UK can be costly and stressful;
  • Remember that the number for emergency services is 112 – store this in your phone.

Richard Chapman, British Consul to Germany, said “Germany is a fantastic place to enjoy by car. Driving rules differ from country to country and Germany is no different. The video highlights the key things to think about and points people to where they can get more advice so that a visit to Germany over the Easter break can be great fun”.

Published 24 March 2014