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 A8), 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. 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 R52 expressway of the Czech Republic.
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.
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. 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. In 2014, there was a total of 3,377 road fatalities, while autobahn deaths dropped to 375.
|Road Class||Injury Crashes||Fatalities||Injury Rate*||Fatality Rate*||Fatalities per 1000 Injury Crashes|
* per 1,000,000,000 travel-kilometresIn 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. 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 or weather conditions. 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
Speed limits in Germany
Highway tolls in Germany
Phone-based map apps have taken much of the pain out of finding our way on road trips. But what about when we're overseas, where a phone connection might not be all that cheap, or fast? No road trip is without its wrong turns — but deciding on the best map apps, whether to use a GPS device, and arming yourself with some key tips for navigating in Europe can go a long way toward saving time and frustration.
My best tip for navigating unfamiliar terrain: Don't rely blindly on your phone's mapping app or a GPS device for directions. Always have at least a vague sense of your route, keep a paper map handy, and pay attention to road signs so you can consider alternatives if you feel the GPS route is Getting Pretty Screwy.
Whether it's a map app on your phone or an old-school driver's atlas, a well-designed map of any kind is a must-have on any European road trip.
Mobile Mapping Apps
The mapping app on your phone works fine for navigating Europe's roads. The downside is that to get real-time turn-by-turn directions and traffic updates, you'll need Internet access (a concern abroad, where you are likely paying more for data).
For most travelers concerned about data roaming, the best option is an app that works offline: Google Maps, Here WeGo, and Navmii will give you turn-by-turn voice directions without a data connection — and if you make a wrong turn, will recalibrate and send you on the right way. They essentially offer nearly all the advantages of a dedicated GPS system, but on your smartphone — for free.
Download your map before you head out (it's smart to select a large region). Then turn off your cellular connection so you're not charged for data roaming. Call up the map, enter your destination, and you're on your way. For the best performance in Google Maps, use standard view (not satellite view) to limit data demands.
Be aware that Google Maps' traffic setting does not work offline, so check for slowdowns and detours before you hit the road or use data roaming for a brief period to get current conditions. And bring a car charger for your device, since mapping apps, even offline, gobble up battery life. It's also smart to bring a car mount for your phone that works for lots of vehicles.
As of the last update to this article, other navigation apps — such as Apple Maps and Waze — do not offer turn-by-turn directions offline. GPS apps from TomTom, Garmin, CoPilot, and others do work offline but tend to be very expensive.
If you'll be traveling without a smartphone, or want the convenience of a dedicated GPS, consider renting a GPS device with your car ($10–30 per day). It'll give you real-time turn-by-turn directions and traffic without the data limitations of a phone app. Note that the unit may come loaded only with maps for its home country; if you need additional maps, ask. Also make sure the device is set to English before you drive off.
The other option is to bring a GPS from home. You'll likely need to buy and download European maps before your trip (check that the maps available through the manufacturer are detailed enough for the areas you're visiting). Remember to bring your unit's car charger and a portable car mount.
Paper Maps and Atlases
Even when navigating primarily with a phone app or a GPS device, I always have a paper map on hand. It's invaluable for getting the big picture, understanding alternate routes, and filling in when my phone runs out of juice.
The free maps you get from your car-rental company usually don't have enough detail. Better maps and atlases are sold at European gas stations, bookshops, newsstands, and tourist shops. Michelin offers good individual regional maps and road atlases for each country (with good city maps and detailed indexes). Though they can be heavy, atlases are compact, a good value, and easier for drivers to use than big foldout maps.
Sometimes the best regional road maps are available locally. For example, if you're exploring your roots in the Norwegian fjord country, Cappelens 1:200,000 maps are detailed enough to help you find Grandpa Ole's farm. Other quality European brands include Hallwag, Freytag & Berndt, Marco Polo, Berndtson & Berndtson, AA (Britain's AAA-type automobile club), Road Editions (for Greece), and Kod & Kam (for Croatia and Slovenia).
Your trip will go more smoothly if you familiarize yourself with the quirks of navigating in Europe.
Signs and Symbols
All of Europe uses the same simple set of road symbols; it takes just a few minutes to learn them (see image). Many superhighway rest stops have local driving almanacs (or cheap maps) that explain such signs, roadside facilities, and exits.
European countries (except the UK) use kilometers instead of miles. One kilometer is six-tenths of a mile. To convert kilometers to miles, cut the kilometers in half and add 10 percent of the original number (360 km = 180 + 36 = 216 miles; 90 km/hour = 45 + 9 = 54 mph — not very fast in Europe). Some people prefer to drop the last digit and multiply by 6 (if 80 km, multiply 8 × 6 = 48 miles), though this can be challenging with large numbers (340 km × 6 = ?). Choose whichever formula works for you.
When estimating how long a drive will take, figure you'll average 100 kilometers per hour on expressways (about the same as going 60 mph back home). Determining how much ground you can cover off the freeway is a crapshoot. I use a trick an Irish bus driver taught me: Figure a minute for every kilometer (covering 90 km will take you about an hour and a half). Double that for slow, curvy roads, such as in Italy's Dolomites or along its Amalfi Coast.
Navigating by Road and Town Names
Study the roads and major interchanges you'll be using before you set out. If you're headed for a small or midsize town, know which big city is nearby (and most likely to be signposted) to keep you headed in the right direction.
In some countries, road numbers can help you find your way: For example, take road A-1 to London, then B-23 to Bristol, then C-456 to Bath. Normally, the more digits the road number has, the smaller it is; so in Britain, M-1 is a freeway, A-34 is a major road, and B-4081 is a secondary road. In other countries, local signs ignore the road numbers (which can change along the way), so it's necessary to navigate by town name. Signs are often color-coded: yellow for most roads, green or blue for expressways, and brown for sightseeing attractions.
Most international European expressways are designated with an "E" (similar to the "I" designation on American freeways), but they may also be labeled on maps and signs with their national letters (for example, the main route between Paris and Lyon is known as both "A-6" and "E-15").
You can drive in and out of strange towns fairly smoothly by following a few basic signs. Most European towns have signs directing you to the "old town" or the center (such as centrum, centro, centar, centre-ville, Zentrum, Stadtmitte). Most tourist offices, normally right downtown, are clearly signposted (i, turismo, VVV, or various abbreviations that you'll learn in each country). The tallest spire often marks the center of the old town. Park in its shadow and look for the tourist information office. When leaving a city, look for "all directions" signs (toutes directions, alle Richtungen, etc.) pointing you out of town.
When you reserve your hotel room, ask your hotelier — or at least check their website — for tips on avoiding anything potentially tricky about reaching the hotel by car (especially if your hotel's in a dense Old World maze of streets). If possible, figure out your arrival route before you enter the city limits. While some small towns helpfully post signs directing you to individual hotels, in many cases you're on your own. If your hotel is within a restricted driving area, ask your hotelier to register your car ahead of your arrival or direct you to legal parking.
Highway tolls in Europe
Tolls.eu is a website whose goal is to build a complete overview of prices paid road sections in Europe. Here you will find listings of prices vignettes and charges for individual states, including maps highlighting the toll. When traveling in unfamiliar international locations you can use to plan your journey overview of fuel prices in Europe.
Germany motorway maps
Figuring out how to get around in Europe is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get Rick’s best advice on deciding between your options and navigating Europe’s roads, railways, and urban transit.
Trains & Rail Passes
Boats & Buses
Highway toll in Europe
Going by car to a European country and do not know how to pay fees for crossing roads and motorway sections? On this page we have better clarity around the web tolls.eu prepared a complete list of individual European states divided into categories according to the method of levying tolls. Here you will find three different sections divided according to the method of payment of tolls. It is a payment through vignettes, payment of fees at toll gates and the states in which the free passage of highway sections.
Toll collection in Europe /for vehicles weighing up to 3,5t/
In some countries, where the passage is free highways, may be levied for passage of some tunnels or bridges.
Traffic laws and enforcement
Driving in Germany is regulated by the Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (road traffic regulations, 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, thus allowing easier enforcement of laws such as tailgating. Notable laws include the following.