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Autobahn (engl. motorway) is the name for freeways (large streets) in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Those in Germany are famous because in many parts of the roads, there are no speed limits and drivers can drive as fast as they want to.
Autobahn in General
Usually an autobahn consists of two lanes in each direction. Sometimes there may be more than two lanes for one direction (or an additional lane for stuck cars).
All drivers are supposed to drive on the outer-most right lane unless they overtake other cars or trucks.
Autobahn in Germany
Many autobahns in Germany have no speed limit. There is only a speed recommendation of 130 km (80.8 mi) per hour. However, drivers going faster than 130km/h can be made responsible for an accident that they are involved in. The German traffic law says that it is only permitted to drive as fast as the track conditions allow.
An emergency telephone is located at a German autobahn every 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) . Junctions between two autobahns are called Dreieck (Triangle), if one autobahn ends there or Kreuz (Cross). Junctions with normal roads are called Anschlussstelle. All junctions of an autobahn are numbered sequentially.
Autobahn in Austria
On autobahns in Austria there is a general speeding limit of 130km/h. However there were some test sections where 160km/h was allowed before April 2007. It is legal to drive with a car, truck, motorbike... if you can drive with it more than 60km/h.
Austrian autobahns are not free of charge. Car drivers have to buy a vignette (which permits driving on the autobahn for a few days or months or even a year). Trucks do have to pay a distance-dependent toll (as in Germany). On some sections you have to pay toll and need no vignette, like big tunnels and other expensive buildings in the mountains.
Junctions among Austrian autobahns are called Knoten (instead of Kreuz) and there is often a speeding limit of 100km/h.
On the Wiener Süd-Ost Tangente (engl.: Vienna South-East Bypass) are about 200,000 cars every day. There is the most traffic in Austria and it is an important autobahn of the capital city Vienna.
Autobahn in Switzerland
Autobahns in Switzerland have a speed limit of 120km/h. Until 1997 they were called Nationalstrassen (and labeled with an "N" instead of "A"). As in Austria, car drivers have to buy a vignette which is always valid for one year (calendar year). Junctions between autobahns in Switzerland are called Verzweigung.
- "Talk of speed limits on autobahn revs up Germans - The New York Times". nytimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/16/world/europe/16iht-journal.4929661.html. Retrieved October 31, 2010.