It might look easy, but driving in Germany is anything but.
Germany is quite different from the rest of the world when driving a car (or even walking). It's a bit of a mix between southern Italy (impatient crazy folks, anything goes) coupled with driving in America (impatient bad drivers). But the major difference is that virtually every move made by drivers on German streets is regulated by the law. If there's not a sign allowing it, assume that it is verboten
. Also, make no mistake about it, not everyone is equal on the German road.
To help visitors traveling to Germany this summer, I have put together a list of rules that should be heeded at all times:
- Don't ever drive on the left lane of the Autobahn unless you really know what you are doing or unless you have a death-wish. People really do drive 200 kph or faster and don't like it when slower moving cars block their test tracks.
- Don't ever pass a car on the right on the Autobahn. You'll either get a ticket or you'll die.
- Don't give anyone "the finger." Germans are 100 times more likely to call the police or they will go completely crazy and hunt you down until you start crying.
- Don't ever mess with BMW or Mercedes drivers. They always have the right of way. You might not get a ticket but you'll incur the wrath of those beautiful people in chic tweed jackets and well-coifed gray hair.
- Never drive through an almost-red traffic light. You'll likely get a ticket or you'll die.
- As a pedestrian, never walk when the signal is red. You'll get a ticket or you'll die.
- Don't forget to use your turn signal, otherwise you'll get a ticket. It's not optional as it is in Italy or America.
- Don't leave your car running when waiting for someone. You'll either get a ticket or passers-by will kick your car because you're polluting Germany.
- Don't go too slow (less than 120 kmh) on the Autobahn. You might get a ticket or you'll die.
- Don't compete with a German native for a parking space. You'll surely lose the battle and your rental car will be scratched for sure!
- Don't park too close to another car or you might get cursed at.
- Don't complain when a parking attendant charges you for another hour even if you're only 25 seconds late. Smile and pay!! German punctuality.
- Don't even think of parking without paying, even if you have to walk 100 yards to the machine that dispenses the tickets. If you don't pay, you will get fined. Guaranteed.
- Don't ever argue with a meter maid. You'll lose the battle and you might lose your appetite as well.
- Don't drink and drive! I hear that German jails have even more rules.
My recommendation is to take public transport or taxis anywhere you go. You do want to remember your visit to Germany as a positive experience, right? Germany is a wonderful and friendly country. Just not while driving a car!
Submitted by Werner Wingen, originally of Munich, Germany but now living in Atlanta, Georgia.
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