PHOTO: The Autobahn (Photo via Thinkstock)
No doubt, you have heard about the Autobahn.
Even if you don’t know much about this German highway, you are likely familiar with its reputation as a place for speed, where driving isn’t for the faint of heart.
And while that is certainly true, there is much more to learn about this legendary (some would say notorious) road.
Here are a few things that might surprise you about the Autobahn:
1. It’s not completely without speed limits. While most of the road doesn’t have an official speed limit, some sections do, and others have temporary or conditional limits. Obviously, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to sections where you plan to drive.
2. It appeared and expanded quickly—but isn’t likely to grow much more. The initial section of the highway was created in 1932, and within a few years nearly 2,000 miles had been added. It would eventually reach nearly 7,000 miles but seems unlikely to grow much more due to opposition from various groups, including those interested in environmental protection.
3. The ride is surprisingly smooth. Considering the blazing high speeds, potholes and other issues on the highway could have serious repercussions. Fortunately, the Germans are known for keeping their roads in excellent shape. Drivers accustomed to pothole-ridden roads in the northeast United States would probably envy those who can sail along on those smooth rides.
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4. Obeying the rules is a must. Anyone who has ever steamed in frustration while stuck behind someone meandering at a leisurely speed in the passing lane would be thrilled to know that wouldn’t be tolerated on the Autobahn. Driving etiquette and rules are strictly enforced, and you can only be in the left lane if you are moving quickly and passing.
5. The speed record has stood for decades. The record was set in 1938, when a racecar driver reached a speed of nearly 270 miles per hour. He was driving a Mercedes W125.
6. It’s safer than you think. Statistically speaking, at least. The Autobahn has fewer fatal crashes per mile than the average U.S. highway.
7. Running out of gas will cost you. It’s viewed as negligent to run out of gas, since there are ample gas stations located along the route. So if you run out of gas and get stranded, you could be hit with a hefty fine.
8. It was designed to accommodate an airplane. The original plan was to allow planes to be landed on the road, if necessary—and that did happen on occasion during World War II.
9. It inspired a hit song. In the 1970s, a German band named Kraftwerk released a tune called “Autobahn" that is meant to evoke the carefree feeling of zipping down the highway with no limits.
Naturally, an iconic road like the Autobahn is best enjoyed when you are behind the wheel of a great ride. Get the best deals for rental rates on the vehicles you want from Auto Europe.