The German Bundesautobahn or more commonly known as the Autobahn has achieved legendary status as one of the best driving roads in Europe and in the world. It is one of the few roads on the planet where you can legally drive beyond 200mph. Since Germany is home to some of the world’s premiere supercar and hypercar manufacturers, it is also a good place to see some of the rarest cars on the streets.
The idea of the German Autobahn was started in the 1920s with the creation of a car-only highway across Germany. The progress was slow and hampered by economic woes in Germany and only a few sections were actually built. In 1933, Adolf Hilter, who took control of Germany, encouraged the building of the Autobahn. Construction was in full swing with around 130,000 workers building the road and an additional 270,000 making the materials needed. In 1935, the first section was opened from Frankfurt to Darmstadt. It was the first high-speed road network anywhere in the planet.
Today the Autobahn network spans 8,046 miles and is the 4th longest highway system in the world.
The Speed Limit
Contrary to popular belief, the Autobahn has speed limits. The recommended speed limit in the highway system is 81mph (130kmh). It is just a recommendation, which means you can drive well beyond it. But if you get into an accident while driving beyond the recommended limit, you will be deemed partially at fault even though you aren’t.
Other sections of the Autobahn have actual speed limits involved such as near towns, where constructions are ongoing, and on the off-ramps. There are also some speed restrictions to specific types of vehicles such as those with trailers or buses.
It would be normal to have safety concerns knowing that for most of the Autobahn, there is just a “recommended speed limit” in place of an actual speed limit. But even though there is theoretically no speed limit, the Autobahn is one of the safest places to drive in the world. Only 10% of all road collisions in German happen in the Autobahn. There are 2.7 fatalities in the Autobahn per billion miles travelled which in comparison, the US Interstate Highway has 4.5 per billion miles.
One reason behind the lesser accidents is that it is harder to get a driver’s licence in Germany. Also, drivers are trained in the Autobahn before they are issued a licence. Another reason for the road safety is that the Autobahn is well maintained. The budget for maintenance per mile of the Autobahn is twice that of the US Interstate. The roads are so well maintained that in World War II, the Autobahn was made into airstrips for the German Air Force.
The Best Section of the Autobahn
While most of the Autobahn has some sections where you can put your foot down and unleash the horsepower, the A24 Autobahn would probably be the best place to satisfy your need for speed. The A24 is the section of the Autobahn from Hamburg to Berlin which spans 147 miles. There is a stretch of 93 miles where you can travel at the “recommended speed limit” and beyond. If you stayed at the speed limit you could get to Berlin from Hamburg in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
While the Autobahn would be the ideal place to quench your need for speed, there are still rules that apply to it. Before taking on the highway, do check your car for road worthiness and be sure to know all the guidelines and road signs. Also, remember that it is illegal to pass on the right and that the left most lane is only for overtaking. Bring food with you if you are travelling as the roadside stops are much more expensive. And running out of petrol is illegal and will incur a hefty fine.
With all that being said, go out there and enjoy the road. Drive safe!