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Do I always have to drive at least 60 km/h on the German motorway (autobahn)?

Question by Guest | 21/01/2018 at 20:33

Is it really true that on the German motorway (autobahn) a minimum speed of 60 km/h (37 mph, miles per hour) is prescribed? So you always have to be traveling at least at this speed?

I mean, there was something like that mentioned in the driving school. But I can not remember exactly.

One question is, why - under that circumstances - a traffic jam can be allowed. After all, you can not reach a speed of 60 km/h in a traffic jam. Would any traffic jam be a crime because you are not traveling fast enough on the freeway?

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No. On motorways there is no prescribed minimum speed, which you always have to drive at least.

Nevertheless, the 60 km/h limit is still written in the law, though in a different context: German autobahns may only be used by motor vehicles that can travel at least 60 km/h, but they do not have to, according to  §18 Abs.1 StVO.

Literally, the crucial sentence is: "Autobahnen (Zeichen 330.1) und Kraftfahrstraßen (Zeichen 331.1) dürfen nur mit Kraftfahrzeugen benutzt werden, deren durch die Bauart bestimmte Höchstgeschwindigkeit mehr als 60 km/h beträgt; werden Anhänger mitgeführt, gilt das Gleiche auch für diese." - Translated: "autobahns (signs 330.1) and highways (signs 331.1) may only be used by motor vehicles with a maximum speed of more than 60 km/h as determined by the design, the same applies to trailers."

This means: only vehicles that can drive faster than 60 km/h are allowed to use the highway. How fast the vehicle is actually driven, however, decides the driver and the traffic situation. If the weather conditions, the visibility or the traffic volume does not allow high speeds, it is clear without saying that slower driving is required.

So, theoretically, you can always drive on the highway as slowly as you like. Practically, however, one has also to adhere to §3 Abs.2 from the German Straßenverkehrsordnung (German road traffic regulations): "Ohne triftigen Grund dürfen Kraftfahrzeuge nicht so langsam fahren, dass sie den Verkehrsfluss behindern." - Translated: "Without a valid reason, motor vehicles may not drive so slowly that they impede the flow of traffic."

Therefore, you can only drive infinitely slow, if you do not interfere with other drivers. That means: on a completely empty three-lane autobahn, nobody will bother with a single, slow driver. The situation is different on a smaller motorway at rush hour, where the traffic flow is quickly disturbed at low speeds. Of course, the line between acceptable and unacceptable is not always that clear.
22/01/2018 at 15:42

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