German in Germany

Cars and Driving

A pedestrian zone sign, picturing a woman walking with a child

The automobile is quite popular in Germany. A family with two adults usually owns two cars. One can get a driver’s license at age 18; there is a two-year probation period for a new license. Numerous, large, chain car rental companies such as Hertzcar and Europcar make renting a vehicle convenient.

The speed limit in town is 50 km/hr or less; however, if there is a sign, “children playing,” it is necessary to slow down to walking speed. When approaching a crosswalk, a driver is required to stop even if pedestrians are only approaching.

Between cities, the speed limit is 100 km/hr; on the highways, the recommended speed limit is 130 km/hr. The speed limit is rarely observed in Germany; when actually observing the speed limit, people will either find themselves being passed or tailgated. One can only pass on the left, so it is a good idea for a foreign driver to stay far to the right. It is the responsibility of the slower driver to make way for the faster driver. Those who are caught speeding are apprehended through the use of hidden cameras. Police do not issue tickets in person; the ticket is sent several weeks later by mail. Unlike in the United States, one cannot turn right on red.

In Germany, parking is ample, and the lots have specially designated parking spots for women. These parking areas are usually well lit and close to an exit. In parking garages one normally pays a cashier or an automated payment machine before returning to one's car and exiting the garage. The cashier or machine validates the ticket, indicating payment has been made, and then the driver inserts the validated ticket into a machine slot before the gate to the garage will open so that the car can exit. For street parking, tickets are purchased from a dispenser and left on the car's dashboard indicating the length of parking time purchased.


  • "Buying a Parking Ticket" (Video 1)
    No transcript
  • "Buying a Parking Ticket" (Video 2)
    No transcript
  • "How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Car?"
    Transcript document:
  • "Crossing a Street"
    No transcript