Rocky Mountain Club B5

Discussion Forums => Off-Topic => Topic started by: jayryan on May 09, 2005, 10:51:38 AM

Title: The Autobahn
Post by: jayryan on May 09, 2005, 10:51:38 AM
Oh my oh my. I'm watching Modern Marvels on the Autobahn. I want to drive it SO BAD NOW!
The dirt:
27" thick vs. 11" for US Interstates
No cracks
No potholes
If a crack does show up. Half the road shuts down to fix it.
Incredibly smooth. -it would have to be for cars to do 150+ very comfortably.
Nice and scenicly curvy vs. straight as possible for US Interstate.
2004: .72 fatalities vs. .84 for the US Interstate.
Grades were originally built at less than 7% then changed to 4% so cars wouldn't have to slow down up a hill
It was built by Hitler with a smiliar idea to the Roman roads. In fact, the modern interstate system was developed by Third Reich engineers.

Other neat facts:
Ferdinand(?) Porsche was commissioned by Hitler to build a car everyone could afford because the Autobahn wasn't being as used as he wanted. Thus begins Volkswagen with the Beetle.
German engineered automobiles are designed with the Autobahn in mind.
It employs some of the coolest technology on the planet regarding traffic jam control and slow speeds.
They have full time tail-gater camera operators to prevent and impose fines on tail-gaters the number 1 cause of accidents.
Insultive and rage-oriented gestures are against the law. All fines are based on the offenders wealth 8O

Yeah...I want to drive it. My Passat origins are based on the Autobahn :P
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: 92UrS4 on May 09, 2005, 10:52:55 AM
The autoahn is fun, but when i drove it, it wasn't all that.  There were a few people flying, porche's and BMWs of course.  I think I only drove about 80 - 90, plus I was only 16 when i drove it. :)
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: kraut-sled on May 09, 2005, 11:09:27 AM
I love the Autobahn!!!  Grew up driving on it more then I drove here in the states.

I will go back sometime soon!
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: jayryan on May 09, 2005, 11:23:13 AM
I'll go with you :P
Title: More Autobahn Facts
Post by: BHase on May 09, 2005, 01:40:33 PM
Being from southern Germany, I'm going to semi-jack this thread to also dispel some ideas that some people might still have about the German autobahn system.

1) There is no speed limit on the autobahn.

That's only partially correct.  I'm from central Bavaria, and my region (A6 and A9 autobahns) are two of the few sections that still allow for unlimited speeds.  In most other states, you will find common speed limits of anywhere from 120-180 km/h.  

Also note that very often, many sections of autobahn have lower speed limits 100 km/h-120 km/h during the night.  My understanding of the purpose behind this is two-fold. First, and most obviously, you can't see as well at night as you are able to see during the day. Second, some autobahns pass close by small German towns, and a car going at 220 km/h makes far more road noise than a car going 100-120 km/h.  

2) Autobahns are generally incredibly smooth and without significant cracks.

That isn't entirely true either.  It is true that the German government has spent inordinate amounts of money on maintaining the German transportation system, with the inclusion of the former East German states and rising fiduciary problems, some of this has been cut back on.  Speed limits (especially the lower ones) can be found in many sections of the autobahn that aren't in a state of repair adequate to accomodate 100+ MPH.

Other asides:

Autobahns aren't always the best way to travel. I've heard some interesting stories about traffic incidents. One more recent version was that cars involved in accidents are pushed off of the autobahn by massive plows. I haven't seen anything like this personally. In fact, accidents tend to be very time-consuming. I've tested the speed of the autobahn emergency teams myself during a very cold winter vacation in Germany with an ex-girlfriend.  That was the "day of the autobahn", as we approached the on-ramp at about 7 AM and the off-ramp at about 3:30 PM, and had traveled a mere 10 miles.  Moral of the story: Autobahn jams are nasty.

While some people are still tempted to completely ignore the posted speed limits (especially in areas where there previously were none), traffic violation penalties can be extreme. For example, I was once caught tailing a slow-moving truck in the far left lane at 120 km/h at a distance of 12 meters. The penalty: 4 month suspension of German license and 250.- DM fee.  Thoroughly unpleasant. The cameras are everywhere.

I also find people not driving as quickly as they can anymore, even in the unlimited speed sections, mainly because it is expensive to do so. The first week of annual or semi-annual vacationing in Germany, I usually spend a lot of time doing somewhere between 180-220 km/h.  Then I realize that gas is over $6.00/gallon and that at that speed, I burn through it far more quickly than say, at 140 km/h, and I restrain myself. I'm assuming the lack of current vitesse by most autobahn travelers is probably due to the very literal cost of speed.

And from the bottom of my heart, please move as far right as possible when the lanes are clear.  While it is true that here in the U.S. it is generally courteous or even recommended by signs that slower moving traffic stay in the right lane(s), in Germany, autobahn traffic laws require it, as passing on the right hand side is illegal, unless you are in gridlocked traffic.  

There. Thread jacked for selfish purposes!

Title: The Autobahn
Post by: verc on May 09, 2005, 01:43:17 PM
I have taken two trips to Germany in the past year.  Both times I had to rent a car and drive from Frankfurt to Karlsruhe, about 100 miles southwest.  The Autobahn roads are great but one common misconception is that there are no speed limits.  The speed limit is frequently 120km/h (~74mph), and there are places where the speed limit changes dynamically depending on traffic and weather.  Out on the open roads where the speed limit is dropped the traffic usually limits your top speed to about 180km/h (~112mph) and I found that cruising at around 100-105mph was comfortable.  When the traffic would open up I frequently got up to about 130 before needing to slow down for the next cars.  My trips from Franfurt to Karlsruhe averaged about 1 hour.

The first car I rented was a Volvo S80 and the second was a Mercedes C240.  Next trip I am going to insist on a BMW or Audi.
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: jayryan on May 09, 2005, 02:05:12 PM
That was some cool stuff. They addressed the MASSIVE traffic jam issues as well as the variable speed limits in the special as well. They made more of a point that now it's become very crowded and less prone to driving as fast as you want.
The Chief of Police for the Autobahn said he ticketed a driver $22K for tailgating. I guess this guy was stupid rich.
They were also talking about "ghosts drivers" who use the Autobahn to kill other drivers. I didn't fully understand how they did it, but it wasn't entirely infrequent. The equate it a drive-by shooting, but with a car instead of a gun.
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: B5_Alex on May 09, 2005, 03:50:17 PM
The "ghost driver" was a term that they were referring to suicide drivers that drive in the opposite direction of traffic.
Although I have lived in the US for over 15 years I still have such strong habits from driving back home that a lot of my American friends don't understand unless they have driven a car in Europe.
For example as soon as I pass a car on the highway I use my turn signal and pull in the right lane. Not only that I am courteous to the other drivers trying to pass in the "fast" (left) lane, but it also protects me from cops with radars set for the left lane.
When someone doesn't want to move from the left lane I try to "remind" them by turning on my left turn signal. (It usually doesn't work :roll: )
When someone is courteous to me on the road and moves out of the way I flash my  hazard lights once.
When traffic suddenly stops on the interstate I turn on my hazard lights to warn the cars coming behind me.
When driving on a two lane road and I notice a cop that has set a trap for the cars in the opposite direction, I try to warn them by flashing my high beams.
I think that diving at high speed on any road, not just the autobahn requires skills and discipline that are beyond the grasp of many drivers in the US. (No offence to anyone here please don't flame me) The soccer mom's (and dad's) in the vans just do not have mentality to handle +100 mph driving. 100 mph is really not all that fast at all ....
I am sure that BHase can testify to the different requirements for acquiring US and German driver licenses.
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: DenverPat on May 09, 2005, 04:21:28 PM
Hey BHase, where are you from specifically?  I spent some time in that part of Bavaria a couple years ago.  (Munich, Ingolstaadt, Wetstetten)
Oh, and our 1.8Ts don't mean crap on the Autobahn.  We're limited to about 140 mph by gearing.  In order to get there, you need to overcome the aero drag, which would limit a stock 1.8T to about 130-132.  In order to be a bid dog on the 'Bahn you need much more displacement.  The 1.8T is great for our speed limits, but isn't crap over there.  I took Audi's 4.2 up to nearly 170 mph a couple years ago, and that was a little scary on such a soft suspension.  Also, it's not easy to drive that fast for that long.  It's mentally draining, as it requires so much concentration.  There are a lot of German cars produced that never see their potential because they're used in the US.  I've driven a super-tuned UrS4, and that thing was about as fast as my car up to 80 mph.  Once you hit 100 mph in that car it starts to get going.  The sad thing is, so many of the larger German cars have soooo much potential at 100+ mph, but no one here can apprectiate it.
Title: The Autobahn
Post by: jayryan on May 10, 2005, 05:48:03 AM
My dad had an '83 and an '84 Benz. Both turbo diesels. That handled and drove better at 100+ than the did below that. My brother and I hit I-40 from Santa Rosa to Edgewater, NM comfortably at 115+ Those two cars were amazing. I'd own one in a heartbeat.