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For and against a speed limit

Germany is the only industrialised country with no general speed limit. That’s why the issue has always been a subject of controversial debate. Here are the new arguments.

Martin Orth, 11.06.2019
The question is: speed limit or driving freedom?
The question is: speed limit or driving freedom? © dpa

Almost no other issue is as passionately debated in Germany as an autobahn speed limit. Since the mass motorisation of the 1950s it has regularly been a hot topic. And it is again today.

Why has this happened?

In spring, the National Platform on the Future of Mobility, a German government commission, published an interim report on Ways of Achieving the 2030 Climate Goals in the Transport Sector, which also floated the idea of a general speed limit on autobahns as part of the public debate. The reason it gave was that “energy-intensive braking and acceleration can be especially reduced on autobahns by a harmonisation of driving speeds”.

Who is in favour of a speed limit?

In addition to the government commission, the main supporters of a speed limit are environmental organisations, climate activists and the German Police Union (GdP). They argue that this is the only way to reduce the number of traffic accidents. In Germany, 3,265 people lost their lives as a result of road accidents in 2018 and almost 400,000 were injured.

Who is against a speed limit?

The German automobile associations oppose it. The ADAC believes that speed restrictions on hazardous routes and structural safety measures make more sense than a general speed limit. The AvD questions the impact a speed limit would have on accident numbers.

What is the situation?

Speed limits already apply to 30% of the German autobahn, or 7,640 kilometres of the network to be more precise. The recommended speed of 130 km/h applies on the remaining 18,150 kilometres.

What is the Federal Government’s position on a speed limit?

Both the Environment Ministry and the Transport Ministry take the stance that a speed limit would do little to protect the environment. Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) puts the reduction in CO2 emissions at less than 0.5%.

Our tip

If you keep to the recommended speed on highways and country roads, you soon notice that journeys do not only require less fuel, making them better for the environment and cheaper, but are more relaxed and almost as fast.


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