Freight traffic utilizes both railways and waterways, but private vehicles are by far the dominant mode of passenger transportation in Germany. Even public transportation relies mainly on street traffic. By 1989, new road and highway construction had expanded the road system for intercity traffic in western Germany to 8721 km of interstate expressways (Autobahnen), 31 108 km of federal interstate highways, 63 441 km of regular highways, and 70 382 km of county roads. Added to this total are approximately 317 000 km of city streets. As of 1989 there were 34.7 million registered motor vehicles in Germany, with a ratio of 48 passenger cars per 100 inhabitants.

As of 1989, the road system in the GDR consisted of 13 170 km of state roads and 34 031 km of district roads (the 1960 totals were 12 335 km and 33 144 km, respectively).

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