In germany there is a long discussion about a speed limit on freeways. For years, two groups have been irreconcilably opposed to each other, claiming that their view is the only true one. Environmental experts and associations are as insistent in demanding the introduction of a speed limit as the car lobby is in rejecting it. So far the autofriends are winning with nice regularity.
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In germany no speed limit on freeways
Germany is one of the few countries in the world where everyone is allowed to race what the turbo can do. A there is no general speed limit, however exist special restrictions on about 40% of the freeways, temporarily or completely. At the same time, many who do not belong to any of the camps do not understand the excitement. A speed limit of 120 km/h would save about 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Considering that 85 million tons are caused by car traffic every year, this is not exactly a gigantic number. The number of traffic fatalities would probably not be revolutionized by a speed limit either. Already, most fatal accidents occur on roads under the speed limit. So why the uproar?
Many factors play a role. This includes the automotive industry with 720.000 jobs just like the horsepower fan club ADAC. The automotive industry generated sales of 273 billion euros last year, the majority of which were generated abroad. German cars sell extremely well all over the world, especially in the luxury class. The market share of german premium vehicles is 80% worldwide. The VDA, the influential association at the top of the German automotive industry, has calculated that around half of all automotive jobs depend on this premium collection – expensive, heavy and fast cars that are comfortable and safe even at high speeds.
To reduce the fuel consumption of a car, to make it quieter or safer, a number of technical innovations are necessary. All the more so if they are to be or remain fast at the same time. To make matters worse, the germans tend to be a car-driving people. While younger people in many other countries define themselves in terms of status symbols and self-confidence by smartphones, tablets and other means of communication, in germany the car is still regarded as a status symbol, and here it can be a little more than that.
Speed limit in germany is also an environmental issue
That’s why the issue must always be on the agenda for speed limit advocates. For the council of environmental experts, the call for a speed limit has been part of the standard program for environmentally and people-friendly traffic for many years now. In 2005, you proposed speed limits of 120 kilometers per hour outside built-up areas and 30 kilometers per hour inside built-up areas. You argue that the more power the engines can produce, the more difficult it is to reduce CO2 emissions. A 50% reduction in power could cut carbon dioxide emissions by up to a third.
So a speed limit is not just about slower driving being more environmentally friendly, but about building slower, lighter and less powerful vehicles in the first place. So it’s about a disarmament program towards smart and efficient lightweight cars. At least that is the opinion of jochen flasbarth, president of the federal environmental agency.
Such a program would also have an impact on the german freeway network. Currently one kilometer of freeway costs about 10 million euros. Wide roads, mostly impassable for slow traffic and animals, mill through the landscape. One of the reasons for this is the necessary maximum speed on german freeways. Here, too, things could be done differently. The introduction of the seemingly so small and free speed limit would thus have serious changes as a consequence. The business model of the export-oriented automotive industry would also be called into question. No german politician in germany will voluntarily and without need mess with the auto industry. The same applies to the ADAC, which has around 18 million members.
The biggest interest groups are against speed limits in germany
So in the end it is completely irrelevant whether a speed limit makes sense or not. Crucially, the two biggest auto industry interest groups, the ADAC and the industry itself, don’t want a speed limit. Consequently, it is categorically rejected by FDP and union. the greens, the SPD and the left-wing party demand it again and again. It is interesting to note, however, that these demands from the Greens and the SPD only ever come up when both are in the opposition. As government parties, the demand for a speed limit is somehow always forgotten.
in 1998, the green party demanded a speed limit of 100 km/h on highways, 80 km/h on country roads and 30 km/h in built-up areas. two years later, as environment minister, jurgen trittin announced that he had long since given up trying to mess around with this german obsessive-compulsive neurosis. In 2007, the SPD decided at its party conference to set sail for a general speed limit. In the election campaign that followed two years later, this demand appeared nowhere again.
Speed limits in other countries
Until something actually happens with the speed limit in germany, we can compete with a few other countries in maximum speeds and race as fast as the exhaust will take us. In the whole of europe, there are only only one other region where there is no speed limit: the british island of isle of man. No speed limit has been introduced here at all to date, neither on highways nor on byways. An introduction was considered in 2004, but it was rejected by large parts of the population.
Rwanda introduced a speed limit in 2001, followed by australia and tibet in 2007. The U.S. state of Montana had no speed limit from 1995 to 1999, but has now also reintroduced it.
Still perfect without speed limits are the indian states of vanuatu, pradesh and uttar, as well as nepal, myanmar, burundi, bhutan, afghanistan, north korea, haiti, mauretania, somalia and lebanon.
No one will be able to say right off the bat to what extent we can compete with these countries in terms of speed limits. However, one can dare to claim that in all countries without speed limits, except germany, no significant maximum speeds can be reached simply because of the road network – unless you sweep across the roads in a hoovercraft bouncy castle.
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