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First time driving in Germany and Austria

I will be driving a rental car in mostly Germany, and Austria. While I am learning the signs and rules of the road, I would appreciate any info which might assist me in my driving travels.

Posted by
2703 posts

Hi Brian,
In Austria, be sure to buy a "vignette", which is a sticker (for the windshield) for use of the highways. I think it's about 7 Euros for a 10 day sticker. Driving is very easy in Austria and Germany. After yur first day you'll be ok. On the Autobahns, be sure to stay to the right, except when passing. Cars can come up behind you VERY quickly if you stay in the passing lane. Take a look in Rick Steves' Germany book to get familiar with some of the road signs.

Paul

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the reply. I will take your advice.

Posted by
26 posts

When you're driving in Austria, you need to have your headlights on at all times.

Also, for parking, look around for an automated machine. A lot of streets and parking lots have one machine at the corner where you enter your parking spot number and the appropriate Euro amount for an hour, etc

Have fun! Driving in the Alps is an experience that you will love!

Posted by
2779 posts

Do follow Paul's advice, stay as far to the right as possible, especially in Germany. Passing cars on the left lane approach you with 130 miles per hour (!) and flash their head lights to get you to move to a right lane. Don't block the center lane either, there are undercover police cars searching for center lane blockers. HK- and AD- license plates are American forces in Germany, in case you see them at rest stops, gas stations and need some English language advice.

Posted by
152 posts

Be sure and get an International Driver's Lisence. They are worth the small cost and time. You can get them at AAA.
We saw two bad accidents within two days of getting to Stuttgart, one on the military post. I have seen postings on other boards that you don't need one. You won't if you don't have a problem. Get a print out from the card you are renting with about what is covered in Germany and Austria. They always send it to me in writing.

Posted by
147 posts

The drivers in Germany and Italy are fantastic. They drive fast but observe good etiquete by staying out of the fast lane!

Posted by
112 posts

Brian, if you see someone turning off and on their
headlights in any foreign country, it means the
police are ahead checking the speeds.
No problem driving in Austria or Germany.

Posted by
2779 posts

Only if they're coming from the direction you're headed. If they flash behind you on freeways it means you're blocking the line.

Posted by
12040 posts

And don't fall for this one: "Exit the Autobahn at the town of Ausfahrt."

Posted by
2779 posts

And there are no 4-way stops in Germany. There's either clear signage of who's got priority (give way signs etc). If there are no signs at all the car coming from the right has got the right of way.

Posted by
3 posts

Brian, all of the above info is great. Observe, observe, observe and then follow. Some extra notes about driving in towns:

A crosswalk with painted stripes on the road and blue crosswalk signs over it means it is MANDATORY to stop for pedestrians at all times. And Germans won't pause to look both ways before stepping into the crosswalk.

At other crosswalks, there will be a button for pedestrians to push to get a green light to cross. The traffic light for drivers will most likely be on the sidewalk, and not above the road and turn red within a few seconds.

You CANNOT turn right on red unless there is a green arrow, or a seperated turning lane with a yield sign.

And on the autobahn, a speed limit sign with the words "bei nasse" is only in force when the road is wet.

Have fun!

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you to all who have taken the time to reply to my question. I have obtained an international drivers permit and look forward to my upcoming trip. Danke.

Posted by
144 posts

and be sure that your rental car has one of those cardboard clock things with a movable dial--should be in the side pocket or glovebox. when there is free parking for a set amount of time, you set the time you parked on the little clock thing and leave it on your dashboard.

parking tickets are a pain in the neck to pay, so try not to get one!

Posted by
2779 posts

What Carrie just described is what we call a "Parkscheibe" or parking wheel. You set the time of your arrival and can park free for whatever amount of time is mentioned on the signs. In case you're short of a Parkscheibe just hand write your arrival time on a peace of paper and leave it on the dash board. You can round up to the next quarter of an hour unit, e.g. is your arrival time is 13:32 you can put down 13:45h. Please note it has to be in the European 24 standard as 1.45pm (nobody over here knows what the pm is supposed to be) is automatically assumed to be a 1.45 at night.

Posted by
101 posts

Rent your car through Hertz and request a navigation system. Did this last summer. Although you can't request a navigation system if booked through Travelocity, etc. , you can by calling Hertz directly. We got our car at the airport in Franfurt. That is where I requested the navigation system..NO PROBLEM. It took us all over Bavaria and Austria without a single wrong turn.

Posted by
154 posts

I just drove through Austria. What an experience. I had a good time but it is challenging. If you can get a tom tom get one. That helps alot !