The Autobahn IPA: [ˈʔaʊtoˌba:n] (listen), German plural Autobahnen) is the federal controlled-access highway system in Germany. The official German term is Bundesautobahn (plural Bundesautobahnen, abbreviated BAB), which translates as "federal motorway". The literal meaning of the word Bundesautobahn is "Federal Auto(mobile) Track".

German Autobahnen are widely known for having no federally mandated speed limit for some classes of vehicles.[1] However, limits are posted (and enforced) in areas that are urbanised, substandard, accident-prone, or under construction. On speed-unrestricted stretches, an advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph) applies. While going faster is not illegal as such in the absence of a speed limit, it can cause an increased liability in the case of an accident; courts have ruled that an "ideal driver" who is exempt from absolute liability for "inevitable" tort under the law would not exceed Richtgeschwindigkeit.

A 2017 report by the Federal Road Research Institute reported that in 2015 70.4% of the autobahn network had only the advisory speed limit, 6.2% had temporary speed limits due to weather or traffic conditions, and 23.4% had permanent speed limits.[2] Measurements from the German State of Brandenburg in 2006 showed average speeds of 142 km/h (88 mph) on a 6-lane section of autobahn in free-flowing conditions.[3]

Germany's autobahn network has a total length of about 13,000 km (12,996 kilometres (8,075 mi) in 2017[4]), and a density of 36 motorway kilometres per thousand square kilometer (Eurostat) which ranks it among the most dense and longest controlled-access systems in the world, and fifth in density within the EU in 2016 (Netherlands 66, Finland 3). Longer similar systems can be found in the United States (77,540 kilometres (48,180 mi))[5] and in China (136,500 kilometres (84,800 mi)).[6] However both the U.S. and China have an area nearly 30 times bigger than Germany, which demonstrates the high density of Germany's highway system.[7]

A4 autobahn sign near Dresden, Germany
A 4 autobahn sign near Dresden
Zeichen 330 - Autobahn, StVO 1992

Bundesautobahn 3 number.svgBundesautobahn 5 number.svgBundesautobahn 7 number.svgBundesautobahn 9 number.svg
German Autobahn sign
with route markers for
Bundesautobahnen 3, 5, 7 & 9
Autobahnen in Deutschland
A map of the German Bundesautobahnen network
System information
Maintained by Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur
Length12,996 km (2017) (8,075 mi)
Highway names
Autobahns:Bundesautobahn X
(BAB X or A X)
Frankfurter Kreuz - BAB 3 und 5
A 3 and A 5 at Frankfurter Kreuz near Frankfurt am Main


Only federally built controlled-access highways with certain construction standards including at least two lanes per direction are called Bundesautobahn. They have their own white-on-blue signs and numbering system. In the 1930s, when construction began on the system, the official name was Reichsautobahn. Various other controlled-access highways exist on the federal (Bundesstraße), state (Landesstraße), district, and municipal level but are not part of the Autobahn network and are officially referred to as Kraftfahrstraße (with rare exceptions, like A 995 Munich-Giesing–Brunntal). These highways are considered autobahnähnlich (autobahn-like) and are sometimes colloquially called Gelbe Autobahn (yellow autobahn) because most of them are Bundesstraßen (federal highways) with yellow signs. Some controlled-access highways are classified as "Bundesautobahn" in spite of not meeting the autobahn construction standard (for example the A 62 near Pirmasens).

Similar to some other German words, the term autobahn when used in English is usually understood to refer specifically to the national highway system of Germany, whereas in German the word autobahn is applied to any controlled highway in any country. For this reason, in German the more specific term Bundesautobahn is strongly preferred when the intent is to make specific reference to Germany's Autobahn network.


Autobahn 10-999
Pattern of autobahns 10 to 999

Similar to high-speed motorways in other countries, autobahns have multiple lanes of traffic in each direction, separated by a central barrier with grade-separated junctions and access restricted to motor vehicles with a top speed of at least 60 km/h (37 mph). Nearly all exits are to the right; rare left-hand exits result from incomplete interchanges where the "straight-on" leads into the exit. The earliest motorways were flanked by shoulders about 60 centimetres (24 in) in width, constructed of varying materials; right-hand shoulders on many autobahns were later retrofitted to 120 centimetres (47 in) in width when it was realized cars needed the additional space to pull off the autobahn safely. In the postwar years, a thicker asphaltic concrete cross-section with full paved hard shoulders came into general use. The top design speed was approximately 160 km/h (99 mph) in flat country but lower design speeds were used in hilly or mountainous terrain. A flat-country autobahn that was constructed to meet standards during the Nazi period, could support the speed of up to 150 km/h (93 mph) on curves.

The current autobahn numbering system in use in Germany was introduced in 1974. All autobahns are named by using the capital letter A, which simply stands for "Autobahn" followed by a blank and a number (for example A 8). The main autobahns going all across Germany have a single digit number. Shorter autobahns that are of regional importance (e.g. connecting two major cities or regions within Germany) have a double digit number (e.g. A 24, connecting Berlin and Hamburg). The system is as follows:

There are also some very short autobahns built just for local traffic (e.g. ring roads or the A 555 from Cologne to Bonn) that usually have three digits for numbering. The first digit used is similar to the system above, depending on the region.

East-west routes are even-numbered, north-south routes are odd-numbered. The north-south autobahns are generally numbered from west to east; that is to say, the more easterly roads are given higher numbers. Similarly, the east-west routes are numbered from north (lower numbers) to south (higher numbers).


Autobahn with 4 lanes in each direction
Typical section of modern autobahn near an interchange, with overhead direction signs

Early Years

The idea for the construction of the autobahn was first conceived in the mid-1920s during the days of the Weimar Republic, but the construction was slow, and most projected sections did not progress much beyond the planning stage due to economic problems and a lack of political support. One project was the private initiative HaFraBa which planned a "car-only road" crossing Germany from Hamburg in the north via central Frankfurt am Main to Basel in Switzerland. Parts of the HaFraBa were completed in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but construction eventually was halted by World War II. The first public road of this kind was completed in 1932 between Cologne and Bonn and opened by Konrad Adenauer (Lord Mayor of Cologne and future Chancellor of West Germany) on 6 August 1932.[8] Today, that road is the Bundesautobahn 555.[9][10][11] This road was not yet called Autobahn and lacked a centre median like modern motorways, but instead was termed a Kraftfahrstraße ("motor vehicle road") with two lanes each direction without intersections, pedestrians, bicycles, or animal-powered transportation.[12]

Rennstrecke Dessau,pfeilerlose Stahlbogenbrücke zwischen Zschepkau und Thalheim
One of the center pier-free bridges over the former Dessauer Rennstrecke on the A 9
Leipzig-Halle Airport Condor
Taxiway crossing the autobahn at Leipzig-Halle Airport


Just days after the 1933 Nazi takeover, Adolf Hitler enthusiastically embraced an ambitious autobahn construction project, appointing Fritz Todt, the Inspector General of German Road Construction, to lead it. By 1936, 130,000 workers were directly employed in construction, as well as an additional 270,000 in the supply chain for construction equipment, steel, concrete, signage, maintenance equipment, etc. In rural areas, new camps to house the workers were built near construction sites.[13] The job creation program aspect was not especially important because full employment was almost reached by 1936. The autobahns were not primarily intended as major infrastructure improvement of special value to the military as often stated. Their military value was limited as all major military transports in Germany were done by train to save fuel. The propaganda ministry turned the construction of the autobahns into a major media event that attracted international attention.[14]

The autobahns formed the first limited-access, high-speed road network in the world, with the first section from Frankfurt am Main to Darmstadt opening in 1935. This straight section was used for high-speed record attempts by the Grand Prix racing teams of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union until a fatal accident involving popular German race driver Bernd Rosemeyer in early 1938. The world record of 432 kilometres per hour (268 mph) set by Rudolf Caracciola on this stretch just prior to the accident remains one of the highest speeds ever achieved on a public motorway. A similar intent in the 1930s existed for a ten-kilometre stretch of what is today Bundesautobahn 9 just south of Dessau—called the Dessauer Rennstrecke—had bridges with no piers, meant for land speed record cars like the Mercedes-Benz T80 to have made a record attempt in January 1940, abandoned due to the outbreak of World War II in Europe four months earlier.

World War II

During World War II, the median strips of some autobahns were paved over to allow their conversion into auxiliary airstrips. Aircraft were either stashed in numerous tunnels or camouflaged in nearby woods. However, for the most part during the war, the autobahns were not militarily significant. Motor vehicles, such as trucks, could not carry goods or troops as quickly or in as much bulk and in the same numbers as trains could, and the autobahns could not be used by tanks as their weight and caterpillar tracks damaged the road surface. The general shortage of petrol in Germany during much of the war, as well as the low number of trucks and motor vehicles needed for direct support of military operations, further decreased the autobahn's significance. As a result, most military and economic freight was carried by rail. After the war, numerous sections of the autobahns were in bad shape, severely damaged by heavy Allied bombing and military demolition. Furthermore, thousands of kilometres of autobahns remained unfinished, their construction brought to a halt by 1943 due to the increasing demands of the war effort.[15][16]

Polish Army 1945
Polish Army tanks riding to Berlin using German Autobahn at the end of WWII in 1945
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F088783-0003, Bei Bad Honnef, Ferienverkehr auf der A 3
A 3 in 1991

West Germany: 1949-1990

In West Germany (FRG), most existing autobahns were repaired soon after the war. During the 1950s, the West German government restarted the construction program. It invested in new sections and in improvements to older ones. Finishing the incomplete sections took longer, with some stretches opened to traffic by the 1980s. Some sections cut by the Iron Curtain in 1945 were only completed after German reunification in 1990. Others were never completed, as more advantageous routes were found. Some of these incomplete sections to this very day stretch across the landscape forming a unique type of modern ruin, often easily visible on satellite photographs.

East Germany: 1949-1990

The autobahns of East Germany (GDR) were neglected in comparison to those in West Germany after 1945. East German autobahns were used primarily for GDR military traffic and for state-owned farming or manufacturing vehicles. The speed limit on the GDR autobahns was 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph); however, lower speed limits were frequently encountered due to poor or quickly changing road conditions. The speed limits on the GDR autobahns were rigorously enforced by the Volkspolizei, whose patrol cars were frequently found hiding under camouflage tarpaulins waiting for speeders.

Reunification: 1990-present day

The last 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) of the remaining original Reichsautobahn, a section of A 11 northeast of Berlin near Gartz built in 1936—the westernmost remainder of the never-finished Berlinka—are scheduled for replacement around 2015.[17][18] Roadway condition is described as "deplorable"; the 25 metres (82 ft)-long concrete slabs, too long for proper expansion, are cracking under the weight of the traffic as well as the weather.[19]


Overall length
Year km Year km
Nazi-era Germany
1935 108
West Germany
1975 5,742
1936 1,086 1980 7,292
1937 2,010 1985 8,198
1938 3,046 1990 8,822
1939 3,300
reunified Germany
1995 11,143
1940 3,736 2000 11,515
West Germany
1950 2,128 2005 12,174
1955 2,187 2010 12,813
1960 2,551 2015 12,949
1965 3,204 2016 12,993
1970 4,110 2017 12,996
On 1 January
Network length (Germany compared to other European nations)
The length of motorways and other roads is expressed in kilometers. It is reported as of 31 December.[20]

German-built Reichsautobahnen in other countries

The first autobahn in Austria was the West Autobahn from Wals near Salzburg to Vienna. Building started by command of Adolf Hitler shortly after the Anschluss in 1938. It extended the Reichsautobahn 26 from Munich (the present-day A 8), however only 16.8 km (10.4 mi) including the branch-off of the planned Tauern Autobahn was opened to the public on 13 September 1941.[21] Construction works discontinued the next year and were not resumed until 1955.

There are sections of the former German Reichsautobahn system in the former eastern territories of Germany, i.e. East Prussia, Farther Pomerania, and Silesia; these territories became parts of Poland and the Soviet Union with the implementation of the Oder–Neisse line after World War II. Parts of the planned autobahn from Berlin to Königsberg (the Berlinka) were completed as far as Stettin (Szczecin) on 27 September 1936. After the war, they were incorporated as the A6 autostrada of the Polish motorway network. A single-carriageway section of the Berlinka east of the former "Polish Corridor" and the Free City of Danzig opened in 1938; today it forms the Polish S22 expressway from Elbląg (Elbing) to the border with the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast, where it is continued by the R516 regional road. Also on 27 September 1936, a section from Breslau (Wrocław) to Liegnitz (Legnica) in Silesia was inaugurated, which today is part of the Polish A4 autostrada, followed by the (single vehicle) Reichsautobahn 9 from Bunzlau (Bolesławiec) to Sagan (Żagań) the next year, today part of the Polish A18 autostrada.

After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, plans for a motorway connecting Breslau with Vienna via Brno (Brünn) in the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia" were carried out from 1939 until construction works discontinued in 1942. A section of the former Strecke 88 near Brno is today part of the D52 motorway of the Czech Republic. Also, there is the isolated and abandoned twin-carriageway Borovsko Bridge southeast of Prague, on which construction started in July 1939 and halted after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by former Czech army soldiers at the end of May 1942.

Current density

Garching Bundesautobahn 9
Autobahn 9 near Munich with 8 lanes

As of 2016, Germany's autobahn network has a total length of about 12,993 km. From 2009 Germany has embarked on a massive widening and rehabilitation project, expanding the lane count of many of its major arterial routes, such as the A 5 in the southwest and A 8 going east-west.

Most sections of Germany's autobahns have two or three, sometimes four lanes in each direction in addition to an emergency lane (hard shoulder). A few sections have only two lanes in each direction without emergency lanes, and short slip-roads and ramps.

The motorway density in Germany is 36 kilometers per thousand square kilometer in 2016, close to that of the smaller countries nearby (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Slovenia).[22]


Emergency telephones

Emergency telephone
HectoReflecto D 59k200
Directional arrow on a delineator

About 16,000 emergency telephones are distributed at regular intervals all along the autobahn network, with triangular stickers on the armco barriers pointing the way to the nearest one. Despite the increasing use of mobile phones, there are still some 700 calls made each day on average.

For the Emergency service or Roadside assistance to come to the right location, the road kilometre must be given as part of the emergency call.[23]

Parking, rest areas, and truck stops

Road kilometre sign on A 6, near Mannheim

For breaks during longer journeys, parking sites, rest areas, and truck stops are distributed over the complete Autobahn network. Parking on the autobahn is prohibited in the strictest terms outside these designated areas. There is a distinction between "managed" and "unmanaged" rest areas. (German: bewirtschaftet / unbewirtschaftet).

Unmanaged rest areas are basically only parking spaces, sometimes with toilets. They form a part of the German highway system; the plots of land are federal property. Autobahn exits leading to such parking areas are marked at least 200 metres (660 ft) (mostly 500 metres (1,600 ft)) in advance with a blue sign with the white letter "P". They are usually found every few kilometres, some of them bear local or historic names.

A managed rest area (German: Autobahnraststätte or Raststätte for short) usually also includes a filling station, charging station, lavatories, toilets, and baby changes. Most rest areas also have restaurants, shops, public telephones, internet access, and a playground. Some have hotels. Mandated every 50 kilometres (31 mi) or so, rest areas are usually open all night.

Both kinds of rest areas are directly on the autobahn, with their own exits, and any service roads connecting them to the rest of the road network are usually closed to general traffic. Apart from rare exceptions, the autobahn must not be left nor entered at rest areas.

Zeichen 448.1 - Autohof, StVO 2000

Truck stops (German Autohof, plural Autohöfe) are large filling stations located at general exits, usually at a small distance from the autobahn, combined with fast food facilities and/or restaurants, but have no ramps of their own. They mostly sell fuel at normal price level while the Raststätten fuel prices are significantly higher.

Scandinavian-Park Handewitt Luftbild
Truck stop Scandinavian Park off the A 7
Rest area Dammer Berge on the A 1

Rest areas and truck stops are marked several times as motorists approach, starting several kilometres in advance, and include large signs that often include icons announcing what kinds of facilities travellers can expect, such as hotels, gas stations, rest areas, etc.

Speed limits

Bundesautobahn 5-FFM
Autobahn with three separate lanes in each direction and an emergency lane
Zeichen 393 - Informationstafel an Grenzübergangsstellen, StVO 2013
Advisory speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130 km/h on autobahns
Zeichen 282 - Ende sämtlicher Streckenverbote, StVO 1970
"Limits no longer apply" (Ende aller Streckenverbote) sign, indicating a return to the default speed, while lifting all other limits as well (all limits are indicated by round signs with red border).[24]
Coloring GPS Tracks According to Speed
GPS tracks colored according to speed show considerable speed differences at an autobahn crossing

Germany's autobahns are famous for being among the few public roads in the world without blanket speed limits for cars and motorcycles. As such, they are important German cultural identifiers, "... often mentioned in hushed, reverential tones by motoring enthusiasts and looked at with a mix of awe and terror by outsiders."[1] Some speed limits are implemented on different autobahns.[25]

Certain limits are imposed on some classes of vehicles:

60 km/h (37 mph)
  • Buses carrying standing passengers
  • Motorcycles pulling trailers
80 km/h (50 mph)
  • Vehicles with maximum allowed weight exceeding 3.5 t (except passenger cars)
  • Passenger cars and trucks with trailers
  • Buses
100 km/h (62 mph)
  • Passenger cars pulling trailers certified for 100 km/h
  • Buses certified for 100 km/h not towing trailers[26]

Additionally, speed limits are posted at most on- and off-ramps and interchanges[27] and other danger points like sections under construction or in need of repair.

Where no general limit is required, the advisory speed limit is 130 km/h (81 mph), referred to in German as the Richtgeschwindigkeit. The advisory speed is not enforceable; however, being involved in an accident driving at higher speeds can lead to the driver being deemed at least partially responsible due to "increased operating danger" (Erhöhte Betriebsgefahr).

The Federal Road Research Institute (Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen) solicited information about speed regulations on autobahns from the sixteen States and reported the following, comparing the years 2006 and 2008:

Parameter[28] 2006 2008 Change
Autobahn total length 24,735 km 25,240 km +505 km
No tempo limit (advisory limit only) 69.2% 65.5% -580 km
Variable limit (with advisory maximum) 4.2% 4.1% -5 km
Permanent or temporary speed limit 26.7% 30.4% +1,090 km

Except at construction sites, the general speed limits, where they apply, are usually between 100 km/h (62 mph) and 130 km/h (81 mph); construction sites usually have a speed limit of 80 km/h (50 mph) but the limit may be as low as 60 km/h (37 mph).[29] In rare cases, sections may have limits of 40 km/h (25 mph),[30] or on one ramp 30 km/h (19 mph).[31] Certain stretches have lower speed limits during wet weather. Some areas have a speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph) in order to reduce noise pollution during overnight hours (usually 10pm – 6am) or because of increased traffic during daytime (6am – 8pm).

Verkehrszeichen auf der Bundesautobahn 20090320 001
Dynamic traffic signs on an autobahn

Some limits were imposed to reduce pollution and noise. Limits can also be temporarily put into place through dynamic traffic guidance systems that display the according message. More than half of the total length of the German autobahn network has no speed limit, about one third has a permanent limit, and the remaining parts have a temporary or conditional limit.

Some cars with very powerful engines can reach speeds of well over 300 km/h (190 mph). Major German car manufacturers, except Porsche, follow a gentlemen's agreement by electronically limiting the top speeds of their cars—with the exception of some top of the range models or engines—to 250 km/h (155 mph).[32] These limiters can be deactivated, so speeds up to 300 km/h (190 mph) might arise on the German autobahn, but due to other traffic, such speeds are generally not attainable except during certain times like between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. or on Sundays (when trucks drivers have to rest by law). Furthermore, there are certain autobahn sections which are known for having light traffic, making such speeds attainable during most days (especially some of those located in Eastern Germany). Most unlimited sections of the autobahn are located outside densely populated areas.

Vehicles with a top speed less than 60 km/h (37 mph) (such as quads, low-end microcars, and agricultural/construction equipment) are not allowed to use the autobahn, nor are motorcycles and scooters with low engine capacity regardless of top speed (mainly applicable to mopeds which are typically limited to 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph) or 45 kilometres per hour (28 mph) anyway). To comply with this limit, heavy-duty trucks in Germany (e.g. mobile cranes, tank transporters etc.) often have a maximum design speed of 62 km/h (39 mph) (usually denoted by a round black-on-white sign with "62" on it), along with flashing orange beacons to warn approaching cars that they are travelling slowly. There is no general minimum speed but drivers are not allowed to drive at an unnecessarily low speed as this would lead to significant traffic disturbance and an increased collision risk.

Public debate

German national speed limits have a historical association[33] with war-time restrictions and deprivations, the Nazi era, and the Soviet era in East Germany. "Free driving for free citizens" ("freie Fahrt für freie Bürger"), a slogan promoted by the German Auto Club since the 1970s,[34] is a popular slogan among those opposing autobahn speed restrictions.[35][36][37] Tarek Al-Wazir, head of the Green Party in Hesse, and currently the Hessian Transport Minister has stated that "the speed limit in Germany has a similar status as the right to bear arms in the American debate... At some point, a speed limit will become reality here, and soon we will not be able to remember the time before. It's like the smoking ban in restaurants."[38]

Early history

The Weimar Republic had no federally required speed limits. The first crossroads-free road for motorized vehicles only, now A 555 between Bonn and Cologne, had a 120 km/h (75 mph) limit when it opened in 1932.[39] In October 1939, the Nazis instituted the first national maximum speed limit, throttling speeds to 80 km/h (50 mph) in order to conserve gasoline for the war effort.[40] After the war, the four Allied occupation zones established their own speed limits until the divided East German and West German republics were constituted in 1949; initially, the Nazi speed limits were restored in both East and West Germany.[41]

After the World Wars

In December 1952 the West German legislature voted to abolish all national speed limits, seeing them as Nazi relics,[42] reverting to State-level decisions. National limits were reestablished incrementally. The 50 km/h (31 mph) urban limit was enacted in 1956, effective in 1957.[43] The 100 km/h (62 mph) limit on rural roads—except autobahns—became effective in 1972.

Oil crisis of the 1970s

Just prior to the 1973 oil crisis, Germany, Switzerland,[44] and Austria[45][46] all had no general speed restriction on autobahns. During the crisis, like other nations, Germany imposed temporary speed restrictions; for example, 100 km/h (62 mph) on autobahns effective 13 November 1973.[47] Automakers projected a 20% plunge in sales, which they attributed in part to the lowered speed limits.[48] The 100 km/h limit championed by Transportation Minister Lauritz Lauritzen lasted 111 days.[49] Adjacent nations with unlimited speed autobahns, Austria[45][46] and Switzerland,[44] imposed permanent 130 km/h (81 mph) limits after the crisis.

However, after the crisis eased in 1974, the upper house of the German parliament, which was controlled by conservative parties, successfully resisted the imposition of a permanent mandatory limit supported by Chancellor Brandt.[50] The upper house insisted on a 130 km/h (81 mph) recommended limit until a thorough study of the effects of a mandatory limit could be conducted.[51] Accordingly, the Federal Highway Research Institute conducted a multiple-year experiment, switching between mandatory and recommended limits on two test stretches of autobahn. In the final report issued in 1977, the Institute stated the mandatory speed limit could reduce the autobahn death toll but there would be economic impacts, so a political decision had to be made due to the trade-offs involved.[52] At that time, the Federal Government declined to impose a mandatory limit.[53] The fatality rate trend on the German autobahn mirrored those of other nations' motorways that imposed a general speed limit.[54]

Environmental concerns of the 1980s

In the mid-1980s, acid rain and sudden forest destruction renewed debate on whether or not a general speed limit should be imposed on autobahns.[55][56] A car's fuel consumption increases with high speed, and fuel conservation is a key factor in reducing air pollution. Environmentalists argued that enforcing limits of 100 km/h (62 mph) limit on autobahns and 80 km/h (50 mph) on other rural roads would save lives as well as the forest, reducing the annual death toll by 30% (250 lives) on autobahns and 15% (1,000 lives) on rural roads;[57] the German motor vehicle death toll was about 10,000 at the time.[58] The Federal Government sponsored a large-scale experiment with a 100 km/h (62 mph) speed limit in order to measure the impact of reduced speeds on emissions and compliance.[59] Afterward, again, the Federal Government declined to impose a mandatory limit, deciding the modest measured emission reduction would have no meaningful effect on forest loss.[60] By 1987 all restrictions on test sections had been removed, even in Hesse where the state government was controlled by a "red-green" coalition.[61]

German reunification

Prior to German reunification in 1990, eastern German states focused on restrictive traffic regulation such as a 100 km/h (62 mph) autobahn speed limit and of 80 km/h (50 mph) on other rural roads. Within two years after the opening, availability of high-powered vehicles and a 54% increase in motorized traffic led to a doubling of annual traffic deaths,[62] despite "interim arrangements [which] involved the continuation of the speed limit of 100 km/h (62 mph) on autobahns and of 80 km/h (50 mph) outside cities". An extensive program of the four Es (enforcement, education, engineering, and emergency response) brought the number of traffic deaths back to pre-unification levels after a decade of effort while traffic regulations were conformed to western standards (e.g., 130 km/h (81 mph) freeway advisory limit, 100 km/h (62 mph) on other rural roads, and 0.05 percent BAC).[63]

Since reunification

In 1993, the Social democratic-Green Party coalition controlling the State of Hesse experimented with a 90 km/h (56 mph) limit on autobahns and 80 km/h (50 mph) on other rural roads.[64] These limits were attempts to reduce ozone pollution.

During his term of office (1998 to 2005) as Chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder opposed an autobahn speed limit, famously referring to Germany as an Autofahrernation (a "nation of drivers").

In October 2007, at a party congress held by the Social Democratic Party of Germany, delegates narrowly approved a proposal to introduce a blanket speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph) on all German autobahns.[65] While this initiative is primarily a part of the SPD's general strategic outline for the future and, according to practices, not necessarily meant to affect immediate government policy, the proposal had stirred up a debate once again; Germany's chancellor since 2005, Angela Merkel, and leading cabinet members expressed outspoken disapproval of such a measure.[66]

In 2008, the Social Democratic-Green Party coalition controlling Germany's smallest State, the paired City-State of Bremen and Bremerhaven, imposed a 120-kilometre-per-hour (75 mph) limit on its last 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of speed-unlimited autobahn[67] in hopes of leading other States to do likewise.[68]

In 2011, the first ever Green minister-president of any German state, Winfried Kretschmann of Baden-Württemberg initially argued for a similar, state-level 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) limit.[69] However, Baden-Württemberg is an important location for the German motor industry, including the headquarters of Daimler AG and Porsche;[70] the ruling coalition ultimately decided against a state-level limit on its 675 kilometres (419 mi) of speed-unlimited roads—arguing for nationwide speed limit instead.[71][72][73]

In 2014, the conservative-liberal ruling coalition of Saxony confirmed its rejection of a general speed limit on autobahns, instead advocating dynamic traffic controls where appropriate.[74] Between 2010 and 2014 in the State of Hesse, transportation ministers Dieter Posch[75] and his successor[76] Florian Rentsch,[77] both members of the Free Democratic Party, removed or raised speed limits on several sections of autobahn following regular 5-year reviews of speed limit effectiveness; some sections just prior to the installation of Tarek Al-Wazir (Green Party) as Transportation Minister in January 2014[78][79] as part of an uneasy CDU-green coalition government. In 2015, the left-green coalition government of Thuringia declared that a general autobahn limit was a Federal matter; Thuringia would not unlaterally impose a general Statewide limit, although the Thuringian environmental minister had recommended a 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) limit.[80]

In late 2015, Winfried Hermann, Baden-Württemberg's Green minister of transportation, promised to impose a trial speed limit of 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) on about 10% of the state's autobahns beginning in May 2016.[81] However, the ruling green-social democratic coalition lost its majority in the March 2016 elections;[82] while Mr Hermann retained his post in the new Green – Christian Democratic government, he put aside preparations for a speed limit due to opposition from his new coalition partners.[83]


In 2014, autobahns carried 31% of motorized road traffic while accounting for 11% of Germany's traffic deaths. The autobahn fatality rate of 1.6 deaths per billion travel-kilometres compared favorably with the 4.6 rate on urban streets and 6.5 rate on rural roads.[58]

Between 1970 and 2010, overall German road fatalities decreased by almost 80% from 19,193 to 3,648; over the same time period, autobahn deaths halved from 945 to 430 deaths.[58] Statistics for 2013 show total German traffic deaths had declined to the lowest count ever recorded: 3,340 (428 on autobahns); a representative of the Federal Statistical Office attributed the general decline to harsh winter weather that delayed the start of the motorcycle-riding season.[58][84] In 2014, there was a total of 3,377 road fatalities, while autobahn deaths dropped to 375.[85]

Road class Injury crashes Fatalities Injury rate* Fatality rate* Fatalities per 1000 injury crashes
Autobahn 18,901 375 0.082 1.6 19.8
Urban 209,618 983 1.052 4.9 4.7
Rural 73,916 2,019 0.238 6.5 27.3
Total 302,435 3,377 0.408 4.6 11.2

* per 1,000,000,000 travel-kilometres

In 2012, the leading cause of autobahn accidents was "excessive speed (for conditions)": 6,587 so-called "speed related" crashes claimed the lives of 179 people, which represents almost half (46.3%) of 387 autobahn fatalities that year.[86] However, "excessive speed" does not mean that a speed limit has been exceeded, but that police determined at least one party travelled too fast for existing road[87] or weather conditions.[86] On autobahns 22 people died per 1,000 injury crashes; a lower rate than the 29 deaths per 1,000 injury accidents on conventional rural roads, which in turn is five times higher than the risk on urban roads—speeds are higher on rural roads and autobahns than urban roads, increasing the severity potential of a crash.[86]

Safety: international comparison

A few countries publish the safety record of their motorways; the Federal Highway Research Institute[88] provided IRTAD statistics for the year 2012:

International Killed per 1,000,000,000 veh·km
Country All roads Motorways
Austria 6.88 1.73
Belgium 7.67 2.07
Czech Republic 15.73 2.85
Denmark 3.40 0.72
Finland 4.70 1.94
France 1.70
Germany 5.00 1.74
Slovenia 7.77 3.17
Switzerland 5.60 2.90
United Kingdom 3.56 1.16
United States 7.02 3.38

For example, a person yearly traversing 15,000 kilometres (9,300 mi) on regular roads and 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) on motorways has an approximately 1 in 11,000 chance of dying in a car accident on a German road in any particular year (1 in 57,000 on an autobahn), compared to 1 in 3,800 in Czech Republic, 1 in 17,000 in Denmark, or 1 in 7,200 in the United States.

However, there are many differences between countries in their geography, economy, traffic growth, highway system size, degree of urbanization and motorization, and so on.

Travel speeds

The Federal government does not regularly measure or estimate travel speeds.[89] One study reported in a transportation engineering journal offered historical perspective on the increase in travel speeds over a decade, as shown below.

Parameters Year
(for light vehicles) 1982 1987 1992
Average (mean) speed 112.3 km/h (70 mph) 117.2 km/h (73 mph) 120.4 km/h (75 mph)
85th percentile speed 139.2 km/h (86 mph) 145.1 km/h (90 mph) 148.2 km/h (92 mph)
Percentage exceeding 130 km/h 25.0% 31.3% 35.9%

Source: Kellermann, G: Geschwindigkeitsverhalten im Autobahnnetz 1992. Straße+Autobahn,[90] Issue 5/1995.[91]

The Federal Environmental Office reported that, on a free-flowing section in 1992, the recorded average speed was 132 km/h (82 mph) with 51% of drivers exceeding the recommended speed.[91]

In 2006, speeds were recorded using automated detection loops in the State of Brandenburg at two points: on a six-lane section of A 9 near Niemegk with a 130 km/h (81 mph) advisory speed limit; and on a four-lane section of A 10 bypassing Berlin near Groß Kreutz with a 120 km/h (75 mph) mandatory limit.[3] The results are shown below:

Average speed Autobahn cross-section
Speed regulation 130 km/h advisory 120 km/h mandatory
Vehicle class A 9 (6 lanes) A 10 (4 lanes)
Automobiles 141.8 km/h (88 mph) 116.5 km/h (72 mph)
Trucks 88.2 km/h (55 mph) 88.0 km/h (55 mph)
Buses 97.7 km/h (61 mph) 94.4 km/h (59 mph)
All vehicles 131.9 km/h (82 mph) 110.1 km/h (68 mph)

At peak times on the "free-flowing" section of A 9, over 60% of road users exceeded the recommended 130 km/h (81 mph) maximum speed, more than 30% of motorists exceeded 150 km/h (93 mph), and more than 15% exceeded 170 km/h (106 mph)—in other words the so-called "85th-percentile speed" was in excess of 170 km/h.[92]

Toll roads

On 1 January 2005, a new system came into effect for mandatory tolls (Mautpflicht) on heavy trucks (those weighing more than 12 t) while using the German autobahn system (LKW-Maut). The German government contracted with a private company, Toll Collect GmbH, to operate the toll collection system, which has involved the use of vehicle-mounted transponders and roadway-mounted sensors installed throughout Germany. The toll is calculated depending on the toll route, as well as based on the pollution class of the vehicle, its weight and the number of axles on the vehicles. Certain vehicles, such as emergency vehicles and buses, are exempt from the toll. An average user is charged €0.15 per kilometre, or about $0.31 per mile (Toll Collect, 2007).

Traffic laws and enforcement

Polizei-BMW - München
German police car (Bavaria, green)
VW Passat Polizei Niedersachsen
German police car (Lower-Saxony, blue)
Autobahnpolizei Niedersachsen Fahrzeug
High Visibility German police car (Lower-Saxony, blue)

Driving in Germany is regulated by the Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (road traffic regulations,[93] abbreviated StVO). Enforcement on the federal Autobahnen is handled by each state's Highway Patrol (Autobahnpolizei), often using unmarked police cars and motorcycles and usually equipped with video cameras,[94][95] thus allowing easier enforcement of laws such as tailgating. Notable laws include the following.

  • The right lane should be used when it is free (Rechtsfahrgebot) and the left lane is generally intended only for overtaking unless traffic is too dense to justify driving only on the right lane. It is legal to give a short horn or light signal (flashing headlights or Lichthupe) in order to indicate the intention of overtaking, but a safe distance to the vehicle in front must be maintained,[96] otherwise this might be regarded as an act of coercion.
  • Penalties for tailgating were increased in May 2006 to a maximum of €375 and three months' license suspension:[97] "drivers must keep a distance in metres that is equal to half their speed. For example, a driver going 100 km/h on the autobahn must keep a distance of at least 50 metres (165 feet)". The penalty increase followed uproar after an infamous fatal crash on Autobahn 5 in 2003.[98]
  • In a traffic jam, drivers must form an emergency lane (Rettungsgasse) to allow emergency services to reach the scene of an accident. This improvised alley is to be created on the dividing line between the two leftmost lanes.[99]
  • It is unlawful to stop for any reason on the autobahn, except for emergencies and when unavoidable, like traffic jams or being involved in an accident. This includes stopping on emergency lanes. Running out of fuel is considered an avoidable occurrence, as by law there are petrol stations directly on the autobahn approximately every 50–55 km (31–34 mi). Drivers may face fines and up to six months' suspension, should it come to a stop that was deemed unnecessary by the police. In some cases (if there is a direct danger to life and limb or property e.g. cars and highway infrastructure) it may also be considered a crime and the driver could receive a prison sentence (up to 5 years).
  • Overtaking on the right (undertaking) is strictly forbidden, except when stuck in traffic jams. Up to a speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) it is permitted to pass cars on the right side if the speed difference is not greater than 20 km/h (12 mph) or the vehicle on the left lane is stationary. This is not referred to as overtaking, but driving past. Even if the car overtaken is illegally occupying the left-hand lane, it is not an acceptable excuse; in such cases, the police will routinely stop and fine both drivers. However, exceptions can and have sometimes been made.

In popular culture

Film and television

  • Alarm für Cobra 11 – Die Autobahnpolizei (Alarm for Cobra 11 – The Autobahn Police, 1996–), a famous German TV series focusing on the work of a team of motorway police officers and their investigations, set in the autobahn-intertwined Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area.
  • Reichsautobahn (documentary/b&w) by Hartmut Bitomsky (West Germany, 1986)


Video games

Need for Speed: ProStreet, Burnout 3: Takedown, and Burnout Dominator use autobahn as one of their tracks. Euro Truck Simulator, German Truck Simulator, and Euro Truck Simulator 2 features the Autobahn in its open world map. Burnout 3: Takedown named them as Alpine while Burnout Dominator divided them into two (Autobahn and Autobahn Loop). Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed also had a track that had the player drive across different sections of the autobahn. The entire game world of Crash Time: Autobahn Pursuit is set on the autobahn. On Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6, a trophy is awarded to those who have driven the same distance as the autobahn total length. In December 2010 video game developer Synetic GmbH and Conspiracy Entertainment released the title Alarm für Cobra 11 – Die Autobahnpolizei featuring real world racing and mission-based gameplay. It is taken from the popular German television series about a two-man team of Autobahnpolizei first set in Berlin then later in North Rhine-Westphalia.

See also


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  85. ^
  86. ^ a b c "Unfallentwicklung auf deutschen Straßen 2012 (Crashes on German Roads 2012)" (PDF). Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistics Office). Statistisches Bundesamt. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. (Seite 19) Mit 29 Getöteten je 1 000 Unfälle mit Personenschaden ist das Todesrisiko auf Landstraßen fünfmal höher als auf Innerortsstraßen und auch höher als auf Autobahnen, auf denen 22 Personen je 1000 Unfälle starben. Ein Grund für das wesentlich höhere Risiko auf Landstraßen und Autobahnen ist, dass hier wesentlich schneller gefahren wird als auf Innerortsstraßen und dadurch die Unfallschwere steigt.. (Seite 20) Hauptunfallursache auf Autobahnen ist die „nicht angepasste Geschwindigkeit“. Im Jahr 2012 waren mehr als ein Drittel aller Unfälle mit Personenschaden auf Autobahnen Unfälle, bei denen mindestens einem Beteiligten dieses Fehlverhalten zur Last gelegt wurde. Bei insgesamt 6 587 sogenannten Geschwindigkeitsunfällen kamen 179 Menschen zu Tode, das heißt nahezu die Hälfte (46,3 %) aller Getöteten auf Autobahnen... (Seite 20) Hierbei ist allerdings zu berücksichtigen, dass die Unfallursache „nicht angepasste Geschwindigkeit“ häufig nicht bedeutet, dass die zulässige Höchstgeschwindigkeit überschritten worden ist. „Nicht angepasste Geschwindigkeit“ wird von der Polizei bei einem Unfall auch dann als Ursache erfasst, wenn ein Beteiligter für die vorliegenden Straßen- oder Witterungsverhältnisse zu schnell gefahren ist.
  87. ^ "A 95: Polizei geschockt über "immenses Tempo" [Translation: A 95: Police Shocked At High Speed]". Merkur Online [The Mercury online version]. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013. den stellvertretenden Kommandanten der Feuerwehr aus Hohenschäftlarn (Kreis München), Daniel Buck... war mit seinen Kollegen einer der ersten an der Unfallstelle, an der ein Porschefahrer (51) so schnell in den Toyota einer 67-jährigen Weilheimerin bretterte, dass sich ihr Auto mehrmals überschlug. Die Frau musste noch vor Ort reanimiert werden, starb jedoch später im Krankenhaus. Die beiden Männer im Porsche kamen mit leichten Verletzungen davon... Auf Höhe des Dreiecks Starnberg verlor er auf der linken Spur die Kontrolle über sein Auto. Er kam ins Schleudern, schoss rechts über einen Grünstreifen und kam auf dem Zubringer aus Starnberg wieder auf die Fahrbahn. Dort rammte er die 67-jährige Weilheimerin in ihrem Toyota... Zeugen vor Ort schätzen, dass der Sportwagen mit rund 300 Kilometer pro Stunde unterwegs war... Ein Zeuge hatte seinen Tempomat auf 140 Stundenkilometer eingestellt und war von dem Sportwagen überholt worden. „Er schätzt, der Porsche war doppelt so schnell“, sagt Buck. Und: „...Schneller wie 160 Kilometer pro Stunde ist hier absolut unangemessen.“. [Translation: deputy commander of the fire brigade from Hohenschaeftlarn county (Munich), Daniel Buck...was one of the first with his colleagues at the accident site where a Porsche driver (age 51) bashed into the Toyota driven by a 67-year-old Weilheim in Oberbayern resident, rolling her car over several times. The woman had to be resuscitated on site, but died later in hospital. The two men in the Porsche escaped with minor injuries... At the peak of the Starnberg interchange in the left lane he lost control of his car. He went into a skid, shot right through a grass strip to ram the 67-year-old Weilheimer resident in her Toyota... Witnesses on site estimated that the sports car was traveling about 300 kilometers per hour... One witness had his cruise control set at 140 kilometers per hour and was overtaken by the sports car. "He estimates the Porsche was twice as fast," says Buck. And: "This is simply irresponsible; even as fast as 160 kilometers per hour is absolutely inappropriate. "]
  88. ^ "International Traffic and Accident Data: Selected Risk Values for the Year 2012" (PDF). Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen (Federal Highway Research Institute). Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen. December 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  89. ^ "SPEED Fact Sheet. German Autobahn: The Speed Limit Debate" (PDF). European Transport Safety Council. February 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2010. In Germany, measurement to estimate mean or average speeds on the motorways network was stopped in 1993...
  90. ^ "Straße und Autobahn die Zeitschrift / Fachzeitschrift – Wegebau Straßenplanung Straßenentwässerung Flüsterasphalt Reparaturasphalt Geokunststoffe Straßenfertiger Straßenerhaltung Straßenwalzen". Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  91. ^ a b Gunnar Gohlisch & Marion Malow (June 1999). "Umweltauswirkungen von Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen [Environmental Impacts of Speed Limits]" (PDF). Umweltbundesamt[Federal Environmental Office]. Retrieved 28 September 2013. Auf Autobahnabschnittten, die eine weitgehend freie Geschwindigkeitswahl zulassen, lag die mittlere Pkw-Geschwindigkeit 1992 bei 132 km/h. Mehr als die Hälfte der Pkw-Fahrer (51 %) überschreitet auf derartigen Abschnitten die Richtgeschwindigkeit.
  92. ^ "Lärmaktionsplan 2008 der Stadt Gera". Gera. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-11. Quote: "Die real gefahrene Geschwindigkeit auf 'freigegebenen' Autobahnabschnitten liegt jedoch deutlich höher, wie das in Abb. 54 dargestellte Beispiel von der A 9 im Bereich Niemegk zeigt. Die V85 liegt teilweise bei über 170 km/h. Im Schnitt fahren deutlich über 60 % der Verkehrsteilnehmer schneller als 130 km/h. Mehr als 30 % der Verkehrsteilnehmer fahren im Schnitt schneller als 150 km/h."
  93. ^ "StVO 2013 – nichtamtliches Inhaltsverzeichnis". Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  94. ^ von Stefan Jacobs. "Mit dem Videowagen unterwegs beim Blitzmarathon: Der ganz normale Wahnsinn auf Berlins Straßen". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  95. ^ "Autobahn-Polizei: Mit der Kamera gegen Raser". Kölner Stadtanzeiger (in German). 9 October 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  96. ^ "StVO – Einzelnorm". Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  97. ^ Geoff Ziezulewicz (4 May 2006). "Fines go up as Germans get tough on tailgaters". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 24 September 2013. Drivers who ride the bumper of the car in front of them can now expect a fine of up to 375 euros (nearly $470), a rise of nearly 100 euros from the previous maximum, said Sven Stadtrecher, a German police liaison officer to the U.S. military in Heidelberg. Drivers can also lose their license for up to three months. Before the new regulations went into effect, a monthlong suspension was the maximum penalty, he said. Fines will start at 35 euros for a speed of 80 kilometers an hour, Stadtrecher said, adding that drivers must keep a distance in meters that is equal to half their speed. For example, a driver going 100 km/h on the autobahn must keep a distance of at least 50 meters (165 feet). Fines and penalties will increase at higher speeds and will also take into account how long the driver tailgates.
  98. ^ Melissa Eddy (28 October 2003). "DaimlerChrysler car tester charged in fatal tailgating crash on German autobahn". Jacksonville Times (AP). Retrieved 24 September 2013. The 34-year-old German man faces charges of manslaughter and endangering traffic as well as fleeing the scene the July 14 accident [that killed a young mother and her 2-year-old daughter]... According to the indictment, he was barreling down the highway behind the wheel of a company-owned, 476-horsepower Mercedes-Benz CL 600 coupe when he tried to overtake the woman on the far left shoulder. The 21-year-old woman lost control of her car after swerving sharply to the right to avoid the Mercedes, which prosecutors said approached at up to 250 kilometers an hour (155 mph) to within a few meters of her bumper. She spun across two lanes and smashed into a bank of trees.
  99. ^ "StVO – Einzelnorm". Retrieved 21 March 2014.

Further reading

External links

Bundesautobahn 2

Bundesautobahn 2 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 2, short form Autobahn 2, abbreviated as BAB 2 or A 2) is an autobahn in Germany that connects the Ruhr area in the west to Berlin in the east. The A 2 starts at the junction with the A3 near the western city of Oberhausen, passes through the north of the Ruhr valley, through the Münsterland and into Ostwestfalen, crossing the former inner German border and continuing through the Magdeburger Börde to merge into the Berliner Ring shortly before reaching Berlin. Major cities such as Magdeburg, Braunschweig, Hannover and Dortmund are situated very close to the A 2. The A 2 is one of the most important autobahns, connecting several large industrial areas with each other.

The A 2 was modified in the late 1990s, and completely rebuilt in the former East Germany. All of the A 2 has 3 travel lanes and a breakdown lane in each direction.

Bundesautobahn 27

Bundesautobahn 27 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 27, short form Autobahn 27, abbreviated as BAB 27 or A 27) branches off the A 7 at Autobahndreieck Walsrode to the northwest, crossing A 1 at the Bremer Kreuz and continuing eastwards of Bremen, toward Cuxhaven.

Due to the large ports (especially in Bremerhaven) alongside the Autobahn, there is a lot of heavy truck traffic present.

Its northernmost part, between Bremen and Cuxhaven, largely replaced the Bundesstraße 6, although some maps still show the B 6 within the city limits of Bremerhaven.

Bundesautobahn 38

Bundesautobahn 38 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 38, short form Autobahn 38, abbreviated as BAB 38 or A 38) is an autobahn in Germany. It connects the A 7 near Göttingen with Leipzig.

Bundesautobahn 39

Bundesautobahn 39 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 39, short form Autobahn 39, abbreviated as BAB 39 or A 39) is an autobahn in northern Germany. It currently connects the cities of Salzgitter, Braunschweig and Wolfsburg, with a planned extension to Lüneburg.

The A 39 begins north of Wolfsburg and ends at the A 7 close to Salzgitter. It crosses the A 2 south of Wolfsburg close to Königslutter.

Bundesautobahn 391

Bundesautobahn 391 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 391, short form Autobahn 391, abbreviated as BAB 391 or A 391) is an autobahn in Braunschweig, also known as the Braunschweiger Westtangente. Its purpose is to connect the A 2 with the A 39, passing the city of Braunschweig on the western side.

Bundesautobahn 45

Bundesautobahn 45 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 45, short form Autobahn 45, abbreviated as BAB 45 or A 45) is an autobahn in Germany, connecting Dortmund in the west with Aschaffenburg in the southwest. It is colloquially known as the Sauerlandlinie (Sauerland line) as it runs through the hilly, rural Sauerland region between Hagen and Siegen. The A45 has a large number of bridges to cross valleys, the highest of which is the Sichter Valley bridge (Talbrücke Sichter) between Lüdenscheid and Meinerzhagen at 530 metres above mean sea level. It is mostly two lanes each way with frequent climbing lanes between Dortmund-Hafen and the Gambacher Kreuz intersection. In March 2013 30 people were injured in a pile-up on the A45.

Bundesautobahn 48

Bundesautobahn 48 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 48, short form Autobahn 48, abbreviated as BAB 48 or A 48) is an autobahn in western Germany. From the junction with the A 1 it connects to the A 3 and A 61 near Koblenz and is fully part of European route E 44.

Bundesautobahn 5

Bundesautobahn 5 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 5, short form Autobahn 5, abbreviated as BAB 5 or A 5) is a 445 km (277 mi) long Autobahn in Germany. Its northern end is the Hattenbach triangle intersection (with the A 7. The southern end is at the Swiss border near Basel. It runs through the German states of Hessen and Baden-Württemberg and connects on its southern ending to the Swiss A 2.

Bundesautobahn 60

Bundesautobahn 60 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 60, short form Autobahn 60, abbreviated as BAB 60 or A 60) is an autobahn in Germany. During its entire course it forms a part of the E 42.

Bundesautobahn 61

Bundesautobahn 61 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 61, short form Autobahn 61, abbreviated as BAB 61 or A 61) is an autobahn in Germany that connects the border to the Netherlands near Venlo in the northwest to the interchange with A 6 near Hockenheim. In 1965, this required a redesign of the Hockenheimring.

The autobahn runs parallel to the A 3 on the opposite side of the Rhine. Between Mönchengladbach and Bergheim in the north and Worms, Ludwigshafen and Speyer in the south, it cuts through the landscapes of Eifel and Hunsrück, avoiding areas of dense population while still in proximity to Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz and Bingen.

The A 61, built in the 1970s, is the most western connection from the Netherlands and Belgium to southern Germany so many trucks and tourists from these countries frequent the A 61.

Between Kreuz Mönchengladbach and Wanlo, the speed limit is 120 km/h.

The section between the junctions Wanlo and Jackerath was upgraded to three lanes in 2005. The speed limit there is 130 km/h, paid for by RWE Power that in return received permission to close a section of A 44 for their Garzweiler surface mining operation. By 2017, the A 44 will be restored and the Wanlo-Jackerath-section of the A 61 will be closed instead.

Between Dreieck Erfttal and Kreuz Bliesheim the A 1 and A 61 run concurrently. The motorway has three lanes each way and a variable speed limit here.

Since 4 April 2012, the A 61 continues into the Netherlands as A74. This short motorway connects the A 61 at the border with the Dutch A 73. Previously, all traffic had to go through the city of Venlo. Part of the A61 motorway near the village of Gelsdorf had been designed for use as a runway to service travel to the nearby Government bunker facility and in an emergency a section would have been dedicated for use as an airport with spacious aircraft parking spaces at both ends disguised as roadside car parks.

Bundesautobahn 62

Bundesautobahn 62 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 62, short form Autobahn 62, abbreviated as BAB 62 or A 62) is an autobahn in southwestern Germany, connecting the A 1 with the A 6. It also connects numerous communities throughout the central Hunsrück. The highway was constructed in the early or mid-1980s.

Bundesautobahn 648

Bundesautobahn 648 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 648, short form Autobahn 648, abbreviated as BAB 648 or A 648) is a very short Autobahn and connects the western part of Frankfurt am Main with the Alleenring. The A 648 is the most important way to the city and to the Frankfurt Trade Fair.

Bundesautobahn 66

Bundesautobahn 66 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 66, short form Autobahn 66, abbreviated as BAB 66 or A 66) is an autobahn in southwestern Germany. It connects the Taunus to Fulda, passing close to Frankfurt am Main. The first part of the autobahn between Wiesbaden and the Nordwestkreuz Frankfurt, was opened as early as 1934, then called the Rhein-Main-Schnellweg. It became an autobahn in 1965.

The autobahn is incomplete; there still is a gap within Frankfurt city limits. A tunnel was proposed as a solution; however, this has not been implemented because of the high cost of construction. A new section of roadway to close a second gap southwest of Fulda was opened to traffic on 13 September 2014. The section includes a 1.6-kilometre (1.0 mi) cut-and-cover tunnel and replaces a diversion which saw traffic routed onto the B 40 for approximately 9 kilometers before rejoining the A 66 just prior to the junction with the A 7; the new segment cost 154 million euros. A portion of the Kinzig Valley Railway line was also rerouted along the new autobahn segment, which required an additional 60 million euros.

Near Frankfurt-Höchst, the highway is one of the busiest in Germany with an average of more than 130,000 vehicles per day.

Bundesautobahn 67

Bundesautobahn 67 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 67, short form Autobahn 67, abbreviated as BAB 67 or A 67) is an autobahn in Germany. It connects the A 3 and A 6, passing cities such as Rüsselsheim and Darmstadt.

Bundesautobahn 8

Bundesautobahn 8 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 8, short form Autobahn 8, abbreviated as BAB 8 or A 8) is an autobahn in southern Germany that runs 497 km (309 mi) from the Luxembourg A13 motorway at Schengen via Neunkirchen, Pirmasens, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg and Munich to the Austrian West Autobahn near Salzburg.

The A 8 is a significant East-West transit route. Its construction began in March 1934 during Nazi rule as a Reichsautobahn, the section between Karlsruhe and Salzburg having been completed by the time road works were discontinued in World War II. Although most parts have been modernized and extended since, significant sections remain in their original configuration from the 1930s - 2+2 lanes, no emergency lanes, steep hills and tight curves. In combination with today's traffic this makes the A 8 one of the most crowded and dangerous autobahns in Germany. Especially in the wintertime the slopes of the Black Forest, the Swabian Alb near Aichelberg, as well as the Irschenberg become bottlenecks when heavy trucks crawl uphill.

Modern sections with 3+3 lanes and more are e.g. (2016): Karlsruhe - Pforzheim-North, Pforzheim-South - Stuttgart - Mühlhausen, AK Ulm/Elchingen - Augsburg - Munich-Eschenried, and AK Munich-South - AD Inntal. Other sections in Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Munich have 2+2 in modern standard.

Old standard or not completed sections are (2016): near Merzig (under construction), AK Neunkirchen - Zweibrücken (no emergency lanes yet), Enz crossing near Pforzheim (modernizing planned), Alb crossing Mühlhausen - Hohenstadt (planned), Hohenstadt - Ulm-West (under construction), Ulm-West - AK Ulm/Elchingen (planned) and AD Inntal - Salzburg (planned). At least, complete section Karlsruhe - Salzburg will be extended to 3 + 3 lanes.

Bundesautobahn 9

Bundesautobahn 9 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 9, short form Autobahn 9, abbreviated as BAB 9 or A 9) is an autobahn in Germany, connecting Berlin and Munich via Leipzig and Nuremberg. It is the fifth longest autobahn spanning 529 km (328.71 mi).

Bundesautobahn 93

Bundesautobahn 93 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 93, short form Autobahn 93, abbreviated as BAB 93 or A 93) is an autobahn in Bavaria with a length of 276 km. It consists of two parts: one is a short track, from the A 8, near the Austrian border, to the Inntal Autobahn (A12) in Tyrol, Austria, the other from Hof A 72 in the north of Bavaria to Holledau A 9. A connection between the two parts was planned but not implemented. For a connection of the two tracks Bundesstraße B 15n is in construction and will be the foundation of the Autobahn A 93 later on.

Bundesautobahn 96

Bundesautobahn 96 (translates from German as Federal Motorway 96, short form Autobahn 96, abbreviated as BAB 96 or A 96) is a motorway in southern Germany, leading from the Austrian border (A14) near Lindau (Lake Constance) through Memmingen, Landsberg am Lech to Munich. Two European routes lead through the autobahn: E 43 and E 54.

It was first planned to build a direct connection between Munich and Lindau before World War II, south of Ammersee. During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, a section from Munich to Oberpfaffenhofen and Germering was built. A 25 km (16 mi) part of the road during those games were used for the road team time trial cycling event.The last two-laned section, from Wangen-Nord to Leutkirch-Süd, was upgraded in 2009.

Dual carriageway

A dual carriageway (British English) or divided highway (American English) is a class of highway with carriageways for traffic travelling in opposite directions separated by a central reservation. Roads with two or more carriageways which are designed to higher standards with controlled access are generally classed as motorways, freeways, etc., rather than dual carriageways.

A road without a central reservation is a single carriageway regardless of the number of lanes. Dual carriageways have improved road traffic safety over single carriageways and typically have higher speed limits as a result. In some places, express lanes and local/collector lanes are used within a local-express-lane system to provide more capacity and to smooth traffic flows for longer-distance travel.

Autobahn system in Germany
Major routes
Local routes
See also
Sovereign states
States with limited
Dependencies and
other entities

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