ROADS IN GERMANY
Germany has the world`s second largest road system (after the US) - pretty amazing for such a small country. There are 395,192 miles of roads, with over 137,323 miles of this total being trunk roads and highways, providing paved access to even the most remote corners of the country. These roads carry a huge and growing volume of traffic. In 2009, there were over 55 million registered vehicles, up from 36 million in 1990 and 17 million in 1970. In addition, Germany serves as the crossroads of Europe funneling much of the continent's east-west and north-south traffic.
You will find that the roads in Germany are well-engineered and maintained; rarely will you find a pothole, and snow removal is almost instantaneous. Signage is uniform and comprehensive. Germany's roads are first class.
Most of the roads in the former East Germany have now been rebuilt or upgraded from their previously dilapidated condition. Unfortunately, the expense of doing this has resulted in delays in maintenance and expansion of roads in the west. Still, the overall quality of the road system is excellent.
Roads and streets in Germany and in Europe in general tend to be narrower than Americans are used to. That is one reason (along with high gas prices) that small vehicles are the rule here.
Germany has a hierarchical road system ranging from unpaved forest paths to the world-renown Autobahn.
Forest/country lanes (Waldweg, Feldweg) - Paved and unpaved one-lane roads. These are in generally good repair. Forest lanes are usually restricted with access controlled by a barrier.
City streets (Straße) - All town and city streets are paved, sometimes with cobblestones. Generally in good repair. Frequently narrow with tight corners, but usually with enough room for two cars to pass. Usually named (although signs may be hard to find at times). Variable traffic.
Community link roads (Gemeindeverbindungsstraße) - Two lane roads connecting villages and smaller towns. Usually well-maintained. Light traffic.
County roads (Kreisstraße) - Two lane roads connecting small and medium-sized towns. These roads have official numbers starting with a 'K' or with the official county code. Sometimes these numbers may appear on guide signs or maps, but usually not. Universally well-maintained. Light to moderate traffic.
State roads (Landstraße or Staatsstraße) - Very similar to county roads. Usually connect larger towns. Again, these roads have official numbers (usually four digits) starting with an 'L' or 'St', but these numbers do not usually appear on signs. Universally well-maintained. Moderate to heavy traffic.
Federal roads (Bundesstraße) - Somewhat larger and usually significantly busier than state and county roads. The routes are numbered with 'B' numbers (e.g. B35) and marked with signs. These roads are usually two lanes but frequently, especially in cities and busy tourist areas; they may have four or more lanes. In larger cities, they may even be expressways (Kraftfahrstraße, Schnellstraße), or so-called 'Autobahn-similar' (Autobahnähnlich) roads, marked with signs. Federal roads connect large towns and cities and tourist areas. Usually equipped with emergency phones at 5-10 km intervals. Universally well-maintained. Generally heavy traffic.
Motorways (Autobahn) - An extensive network of limited-access freeways that can usually provide a driver with a speedy route from city to city.
European Highways (Europastraße) - These aren't separate roads, but rather are co-designated with other highways, usually Autobahns. The European Highway System, with routes designated with an 'E', provides for continuous numbering between countries, regardless of domestic route numbers. For example, near Saarbrücken, the German A6 crosses into France and becomes France's A32. However, both roads carry the E50 designation making it easy for international travelers to follow the route.