**Updated: 26. October 2024**

Let's do away with super-long introductions. I really dislike studying for tests, and the German theoretical driving test is QUITE a study challenge. While the test itself only has 30 questions, those are drawn from a set of 1200 different (but somewhat redundant) questions that you should study in order to pass. The test is quite unforgiving when it comes to getting answers wrong, and often several selections per answer need to be picked in order for it to be correct.

In this post we'll tackle the most important bit first: The "numbers questions" - numbers having to do with speeds, distances, and measurements, mostly. They're hard because they're pretty random, and there's no way you can guess or deduce the right answers - you just have to know them. So, without further ado, let's study them and take this quiz so you'll remember most of them forever (or at least until the test is over).

**1) Reaction, Braking, and Stopping Distances**

This is a super weird one (or three) but it comes up ALL THE TIME in driving classes and is very likely to appear in the German theoretical driving test you'll be taking. It’s weird because it’s a set of related formulas that you will have ABSOLUTELY no chance of actually recalling while you’re behind the wheel – rendering them purely theoretically useful. They’re also almost certainly not even really accurate, just rules of thumb. But you need to know them:

**Reaction Distance (Reaktionsweg):** Imagine you’re driving at 100 km/h. You see some type of craziness in front of you (maybe a deer that’s jumped onto the road) that you have to react to. The point of the Reaktionsweg is the amount of distance you’ll have already covered before your brain realizes what’s going on and can give your appendages the signal to do something about it. And that formula is **(YOUR SPEED / 10) * 3 = Reaction distance in meters**. All mathematical conventions regarding units aside, this would make your reaction distance 30 meters (because 100 km/h divided by 10 is 10, and 10 multiplied by 3 is 30). So your car will have already come 30 meters closer to the disturbance between the time your eyes saw it and your brain being able to react to it.

**Braking Distance (Bremsweg):** This is the distance your car will travel between stepping on the brake and the car coming to a complete stop. It’s **(YOUR SPEED /10) * (YOUR SPEED /10) = braking distance in meters**. So if you’re going 100 km/h then it will take you 100 meters between stepping on the brake and coming to a stop. If you’re going 50 km/h then the Bremsweg is 25 meters (notice that the braking distance quadruples as your speed doubles, meaning that if your speed is halved (from 100 km/h to 50 km/h), the braking distance is reduced to a quarter (from 100 meters to 25 meters). This is a fact driving instructors like to talk about. **IMPORTANT:** If you do an emergency braking maneuver (Gefahrenbremsung), where you step on the brake with all your might, the final result is halved. So if you brake like you really mean it, at 100 km/h, the distance to stop will be 50 m, not 100m.

**Stopping Distance (Anhalteweg):** Logically, you’ll need to add your reaction distance to the braking distance in order to determine the total distance you’ll cover between your brain registering that something is up ahead, until the car comes to a complete stop. So, the stopping distance is the reaction distance plus the braking distance. Or, if we put it pseudo-mathematically: **(YOUR SPEED /10) * 3 + (YOUR SPEED /10) * (YOUR SPEED /10) = Stopping Distance in meters**

Now, even though I am pretty sure this is the kind of formula you won’t be actively noodling through in a real emergency, it’s meant to sensitize you to the fact that the faster you drive, the farther your car will need to travel before it is physically able to come to a halt. If you go 100 km/h, your stopping distance is 30 m + 100 m = 130 m if you’re braking normally, and 30 m + 50 m = 80 m if you’re braking like you’ve never broken before. Note, of course, that the reaction distance does not change no matter how hard you want to brake.

Note also that what’s being described with all of these is an idealized scenario where you’re alert, the road is dry, you have the right tire pressure, etc. In a realistic scenario, those distances would be larger.

The next time you’re on an Autobahn or country road in Germany, take note of the white reflective posts on the side of the road (delineator posts). When the road is straight, they are always 50m apart from one another. This is a good thing to know (also because it might appear on the German theoretical driving test), and it can help you get a good feeling for what a lot of these numbers mean. If you’re going 100 km/h (which is the speed limit on country roads), it will take the length of roughly two of those posts to come to a stop if you’re seeing trouble up ahead.

**KEY TAKEAWAYS:**

**Reaction Distance (Reaktionsweg) in meters:**** **(YOUR SPEED /10) * 3

**Braking Distance (Bremsweg) in meters:** (YOUR SPEED /10) * (YOUR SPEED /10)

**Stopping Distance (Anhalteweg) in meters:**** **Braking Distance + Stopping Distance

**Example:** If you're going 50 km/h, your reaction distance will be 15m, your braking distance will be 25m, and your stopping distance will be 40m.

**2) Speed Limits**

Let’s talk about speed limits in Germany. While Germany’s famous for having “no speed limits on the Autobahn” (which is not always the case btw), it certainly makes up for on other roads.

I will tell you from personal experience, while actually driving, that one of the most important things to know is that **once you pass a yellow rectangular sign with the name of the town/village on it, the speed limit is automatically reduced to 50 km/h**, and it is super common in Germany to put up speed traps soon after those signs to catch people who have not yet caught on. In German, this is called “innerhalb geschlossener Ortschaften” (which translates to “within built-up areas”), and it means that you’re inside a settlement of some sort and can not exceed the speed of 50 km/h. **Once you leave the village/town (rectangular sign with the town name crossed out) then you are “außerhalb geschlossener Ortschaften” and can go 100 km/h** unless otherwise indicated.

Some other important speeds to know for the German theoretical driving test: **In order to use a Kraftfahrtstraße** (a highway/motorway similar to an Autobahn but it can have intersections and traffic lights) **or an Autobahn** (absolutely no intersections or traffic lights, which is why its sign features a bridge going over it), **your vehicle needs to be capable of going OVER 60 km/h**. That means, no bikes or electric bikes on these roads (when I was in my early 30s, I did not know this and often found myself and my bike sucked onto a Kraftfahrstraße, which was NOT FUN). Note that OVER 60 km/h means that a vehicle that can do a maximum of 60 km/h is not acceptable, but 61 km/h is.

When you’re on the actual **Autobahn** there are often speed limits indicated – but when there aren’t, you should be aware of the so-called **Richtgeschwindigkeit**, which means the **recommended speed of 130 km/h**. This is a good one to know. This recommended speed also applies to Kraftfahrstraßen outside of town with either at least two lanes in each direction, or a physical constructed divider between lanes in each direction.

If you are in a **pedestrian walking zone** (verkehrsberuhigter Bereich), **the speed limit is walking speed, which is 7 km/h**. **If there’s fog and or can only see up to 50 m ahead** (remember, that’s five delineator posts), **the maximum speed limit is 50 km/h**.

**When you have snow chains, your maximum allowed speed is 50 km/h.**

There are some more speed limit questions having to do with trucks and trailers, and heavy vehicles, but those go a bit beyond the scope of this blog post, which is focused on the most common and important things to know for the theoretical German driving test. In other cases having to do with heavy vehicles, the answer is usually 80 km/h (obviously make sure you actually know these things if you’re planning on driving trucks and/or attaching trailers!)

**KEY TAKEAWAYS:**

**Max Speed in a town/village ("Ortschaft):**** **50 km/h

**Max Speed outside of an Ortschaft: **100 km/h

Vehicle must be able to go OVER 60 km/h to use Autobahn and Kraftfahrstraße

**Recommended Speed on Autobahn (and certain Kraftfahrstraßen):** 130 km/h

**Max speed in pedestrian walking zone:** 7 km/h

**Max speed during fog or 50m visibility:** 50 km/h

**Max speed with snow chains: **50 km/h

All of these are valid unless speed is otherwise indicated, of course.

**3) Leaving Space between Things**

When the test question asks how far you’re allowed to stop or park away from something (like a bus stop or a railway intersection), the answer will usually have the number 5 in it. Also keep in mind that how far away you park from something outside of a town/village (remember, außerhalb geschlossener Ortschaften, where the speed limit is 100 km/h) is farther than within town limits (where the speed limit is 50 km/h), in order to compensate for the fact that people are going faster and need more time to react and stop. For example, **the distance that you can stop or park in front of a railroad crossing (in German the sign at a railroad crossing is called Andreaskreuz), is 5 meters when you’re inside a town, and 50 meters when you’re outside of a town**.

**Parking in front of an intersection or junction (T-intersection) is 5 meters, but if there’s a bike path on the sidewalk, it’s 8 meters.** The idea here is that cars taking a right turn are able to see approaching bikes on their right without your parked car blocking the view.

**Parking is prohibited for 15 meters in front of and behind bus stop signs. And stopping is only allowed up to three minutes.**

**You must leave 3 m space between your car and the lane boundary **(Fahrstreifenbegrenzung)** when parked, so that other vehicles can still get by.**

**When passing a pedestrian, you must leave at least 1.5 meters space between you and them. When passing a parked car, leave at least 1 meter space. When passing a cyclist, leave 1.5 meters if you're in an "Ortschaft" (remember, with the yellow sign) and 2 meters if you're not.**

Also remember this rule of thumb: **You should keep a distance of half your speedometer (but in meters, not km/h) to the car in front of you, **in order to be safe. So if you’re going 100 km/h, you should be at least 50 meters behind the car in front of you. **Within an Ortschaft, keep 3 car-lengths between you and the car in front of you.**

**If you're driving, say, a tall vehicle, which when parked would obscure a sign or traffic light from other cars, you must park 10 meters behind the light or sign (railway crossing or yield or stop signs).**

**Parking in front of zebra stripes is at least 5 meters. 5 meters is also the distance between two cars if one is towing the other.**

**KEY TAKEAWAYS:**

**Parking in front of railroad crossing:**** **5 meters in town, 50 meters outside of town

**Parking in front of an intersection:** 5 meters, but if there's a bike path it's 8 meters

**Parking in front of or behind a bus stop:**** **15 meters (and stopping max 3 minutes)

**Space between your parked car and lane boundary:** 3 meters

**When passing a pedestrian, leave this much space:** 1.5 meters

**When passing a parked car, leave this much space:** 1 meter

**When passing a bike rider, leave this much space:** 1.5 meters (in Ortschaft), 2 meters (outside of Ortschaft)

**Distance to car in front of you when driving:** 3 car lengths (in Ortschaft), half your speedometer in meters (elsewhere)

If your parked car would hide a traffic light or important sign (railway crossing, yield or stop sign), you must park at least 10 meters behind it.

**Parking in front of pedestrian crossing (zebra stripes):** 5 meters (no specified distance behind the crossing)

**Distance between one car towing another:** 5 meters

*All distances here are "at least".

#### 4) Other Important Numbers

Let's have a look at the last set of important numbers to remember for the German theoretical driving test. On this page we'll cover most numbers but not all. As you can imagine, when you add somewhat out-of-the-ordinary conditions, such as driving a truck or motorcycle, or attaching a trailer or an awkward load to your car (which may or may not need to be illuminated or marked with a flag), and details surrounding the points you earn for infractions, there are a few more numbers to take into account. Those are likely to be on the test, too, but they would implode the scope of this particular blog post so I'll save those for another time. In this last section we'll have a last look at some very common figures that come up all the time in driving school and the test.

**The tread depth of the tires (Profiltiefe) needs to be at least 1.6 millimeters. **Believe it or not, for some reason this fact is central to the whole driving school experience.

This one I'll simplify: **Trucks are not allowed to drive on Sundays in Germany, from midnight until 10pm.**

**Your car needs an official checkup ("Hauptuntersuchung" or often just known as "TÜV") every two years. If your car is brand new, it'll need the first one after three years.**

**If you are getting a drivers' license that is class B, you can drive a vehicle with a total mass of 3.5 tons (this is a very common one). When parking on sidewalks is permitted, you may only do so if your vehicle weights up to 2.8 tons.**

**The probation period for new drivers is 2 years. Within this time period your blood alcohol content must be 0 when driving. Same if you are under 21 years of age.**

**It takes one hour for each 0.1 per mille of alcohol to be metabolized by the body.** In general, if there are number questions about drugs/alcohol, it usually helps to pick the most extreme possibility presented.

**A car must be less than 2.55 meters in width, and 4 meters in height.**

**KEY TAKEAWAYS:**

**Tread depth of tires:**** **1.6 mm

**No trucks on Sundays:** 00:00 - 22:00

**Official inspection:**** **every** **2 years for non-new cars, first inspection for new car after 3 years

**Driver's License Class B:** entitled to vehicle up to 3.5 tons

**Parking on sidewalks: **Up to 2.8 tons

**Absolute zero blood alcohol: **Anyone under 21 years of age, and anyone in 2 year probation peroiod after getting license

**Max dimensions of car:** 2.55 meters in width, 4 meters in height

**Metabolization of alcohol: **0.1 per mille per hour

Ok, that's it!! Take the quiz on the top of the page to see how much of this you retained. I recommend either re-reading this or taking the quiz again until you get 100%. Much success with the German theoretical driving test and let me know your feedback about this article anytime!

Anscheinend ist die Führerscheinprüfung immernoch zu einfach, denn wenn ich mir anschau was da alles auf der Straße rumfährt....

(Evidently the driver's license test is still too easy, because when I see all that's driving around on the road...)

Masteries - (Reddit)

**BONUS (Some other number questions that come up frequently):**

**Ein einachiger Anhänger hat eine tatsächliche Gesamtmasse von 600kg. Wie groß muss die Stützlast mindestens sein? (A single-axle trailer has an actual total weight of 600 kg. What must be the minimum support load?):**** **24 kg (=4%)

**Ihr Kraftfahrzeug verliert etwas Öl. Wie viel Trinkwasser kann bereits durch einen Tropfen Öl ungenießbar werden? (Your motor vehicle is leaking some oil. How much drinking water can already be made undrinkable by just one drop of oil?): **600 Liter

**Sie mussten nach einer Reifenpanne das Notrad montieren. Was ist bei der Weiterfahrt verboten? (After a flat tire, you had to install the spare wheel. What is prohibited when continuing to drive?): **Schneller als 80 km/h zu fahren (and: Mit dem Notrad länger als unbedingt erforderlich zu fahren).