Contrary to popular belief, the German Autobahn resembles a typical freeway, not a 20 lane superhighway with crazy sportscars whizzing by everywhere. Not every driver is driving at intense speeds, either. Parts of the Autobahn even have speed limits, which surprises some people.
When entering the Autobahn, one is more likely to be interested in the highly-maintained, superbly designed, efficient road system. In east Germany, the government had to redo the shoddy Soviet-designed roads to built them into what they are today. The Autobahn is a unified freeway network that stretches for 12,044 kilometers throughout Germany.
The Autobahn is a very mathematically designed system. Autobahn roads are designed to provided a strong, quick traffic flow. Most roads have two to four lanes in each direction. Lanes in rural areas are 3.75 meters wide, while they are typically 3.5 meters wide in urban areas. There is usually a landscaped green median in between these lanes that is 3-4 meters wide.. There is a double-sided guard rail in the center. The curves are usually gentle and well-banked. The ground is freeze-resistant or bituminous. The roadbed and surface are usually 68 cm in thickness. Autobahn roads also provide reflector guide posts at 50 meter intervals, along with frequent rest stops and bathroom facilities so you don’t have to go on annoying trips out on exits. Service areas often have filling stations, hotels and restaurants. There are emergency telephones every 2 kilometers.
The roads are insanely smooth and maintained, which is good for your car. There are crews that inspect every little bit of the roads. When there is a fissure or defect, they will replace the entire road section.
Most Autobahn roads stay out of city centers. There will be off roads from the Autobahn that feed into cities. They are spurs that are called “urban Autobahns.” They will have six to eight lane elevated or depressed roadways, that have closely-spaced diamond interchange spaces. They sometimes leave out the emergency phones on these urban Autobahns.
There are also many superbly constructed tunnels and bridges throughout the Autobahn. There are over 65 tunnels, both in mountains and urban areas. These tunnels all have 24 hour video surveillance and frequent refuge rooms.
You have to play strictly be the rules to drive on the Autobahn. Bikes, mopeds and pedestrians may not use the roads. Any vehicle that goes on the Autobahn has to be able to go above 60 kilometers per hour. Passing on the right lane is strictly prohibited, even unheard of. As in all freeways, stopping or parking is forbidden, unless it is an emergency. It is illegal to run out of gas when you are driving on the Autobahn. You cannot use that as an excuse.
Click here for a video about the Autobahn.