I want to write about my first time to go on a road trip in snow. I learned many things about road safety, the Autobahn and traveling in winter and I want to take note of them in case we go on a road trip in the future where we will have to drive ourselves. Last time I was on the Autobahn was on a road trip to Hamburg but that is a different way and the conditions were very different too.
On the day we were leaving for Frankfurt I awoke to snow. Snow is finally here. For real this time because last December it snowed for only short periods and it was very little. This time snow was falling continuously and I felt like I was in winter wonderland.
The drive to Frankfurt takes about 6 to 7 hours depending on how fast you drive and the road conditions.
Marché Rest Stop
We stopped at this beautiful rest stop to use the toilet. Like our last time in the Autobahn, it has the turnstile toilet entrance where you drop € 0.70 to get in and the toilets are very clean.
The selection of food and refreshments is wide from the convenience store and the Marche cafe itself, which is cafeteria style. There is also an assortment of cute gift items.
Snow and Low Visibility
For most of the drive there was snow, visibility was low because of the fog and we also had to slow down because we wanted to be careful with patches of ice on the road which can cause the car to slip and this would be disastrous in the Autobahn where cars drive at high speeds. Thankfully the colleague of TD who was driving is very used to the drive between Berlin and Frankfurt.
Teufelstal Rest Stop
We stopped again at another rest stop to buy sausages. This is a great idea if you want to buy “pasalubong” or gifts for people you are visiting.
Once again there is a lot of snack options and I finally tasted the Magnum No. 3 Passionate Kiss in Tiramisu. YUM. At rest stops they also have books.
Winter Road Safety
Here are some things that I learned on the trip. I was asking TD’s colleague a lot of questions because she has been in Germany for many years and is used to driving here.
- Understanding and following German road signs is so important. Despite the extremely high speeds in the Autobahn it is quite safe, however not all stretches are free of speed limits, but if you don’t understand the signs you will find yourself in trouble. I found this and this very helpful and I’m starting to understand the meanings of the signs.
- Using proper winter tires to you feel secure on the road because all-season tires will not have as much traction and grip on the road (even if it is dry) once the temperatures hit below 7. She also mentioned that some car insurance companies will not cover you if you don’t change to winter tires during winter. Personally I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Slow down when the road looks wet or icy. Even if it looks dry, there can be patches of ice on the road and this is a recipe for disaster. To be safe it’s better to slow down, especially when you are not used to the route and conditions.
- Make sure to be on the correct lane. Unlike in the Philippines, people here use the left most lane only for over taking and once you’ve over taken you have to go back to the right lane. Really fast cars stay on the left lane so to avoid accidents over-take and go back to your lane. Being in the correct lane for exits is also important to avoid accidents. German roads are well labelled and they use pictographs so this should not be a problem for foreigners.
- Using winter wiper fluid (which are available in the convenience store) is a must because the ordinary wiper fluid will freeze. We experienced this ourselves on the drive. One of the wiper fluid sprays froze over and wouldn’t work. The snow and wiper fluid got stuck to the windshield and it was hard to see the road clearly. In the rest stop, the windshield had to be wiped clean.
Do you have any other tips for Winter road safety? This was my first time so I am sure there is still a lot to learn. I would love to hear from you if you have more tips and advice!
Going back to Berlin from Frankfurt we left at about 3pm and arrived in Berlin at 9pm. I found the scenery to be hauntingly beautiful (I was reminded of that TV show, The Killing, a couple of times – can you see why?)