• Dec 29, 2006
Over the past several years, environmentalists have established the autobahn, Germany's high-speed national motorway, as one of the primary battlegrounds on which to wage a war on greenhouse emissions. While about one-third of the autobahn's roads are limited to 130 KPH (80 MPH), other portions are devoid of a set speed limit, instead relying on the age-old deterrent of excessive speed: common sense.
The prevailing rule on Germany's freeway system is "safe and prudent," or what we were all taught in driver's ed., "never drive faster than it is safe for current conditions." Although Germany enjoys one of the lowest per capita death rates in the world (not so when gauged by miles driven), environmentalists and other supporting parties maintain that if the speed limit was set at 120 KPH (75 MPH), emissions would be reduced by around 30-percent and subsequently, the health of the nation would be improved.

The Transport Minister of Germany, Wolfgang Tiefensee, is adamant that emission-reducing measures are a top priority, but has said on numerous occasions that a general speed limit "does not make sense."

Our favorite quote on the matter, courtesy of Timm Krägenow of the Deutschland Financial Times was, "Derestricted driving on the autobahn is to the Germans what pesto is to the Italians and the baguette is to the French. No one in Italy or in France would dare to try and ban the cultural characteristics of their country."

We won't argue with that logic.

[Source: Automotive News –- Sub. Req., Deutschland Financial Times]


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  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      The sentence about the french and the italians makes a lot sense. It's simple as that: the party establishing a general speed limit on the Autobahn will simply loose the next elections, no matter what else they have to offer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Same as environmentalists here: loud and intrusive.

      Stop wondering about carbon emissions. It has nothing to do with the environment and you would know it if you stopped for a second or two.

      It's all about social control.

      They won't stop until you are forced to consult them before you begin breakfast--and I am not joking.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Seriously, this is a great idea. Slow down for mommy earth!

      If they were serious about saving the planet (which I'm told my many scholarly scholar-types), we'd all ride bicycles.

      Actually, that's a lie. If you work, eat, or live, your carbon footprint is too big. Hybrids are a joke. Do you know the amount of resources that are required to build a hybrid? Bying a Prius is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

      All your frantic puny efforts will fall woefully short.

      We must embrace the final solution - now.

      If you're SERIOUS about avoiding the catastrophe called Global Warming, go to the kitchen and get a SHARP knife. Slit your wrists in the back yard (so you can feed the plants in your last unselfish act).

      Too radical you say? Eh, you know the line: "How do you boil a live frog?" Slowly.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As a Brit living in Germany I can tell you, the high speed of the Autobahns becomes normal very soon. It's much better in my opinion to not have to spend time looking at the speedo all the time, and to use the road and traffic conditions instead to gauge what speed I should be driving. Last week we had some fog and we were all driving at 40mph on an unrestricted section of Autobahn. The next day it was a bright clear day and that same section was at 150mph. The conditions dictated the speed, not a sign by the side of the road.

      As for lane discipline, it's not perfect. On a 100 mile journey you'll encounter 3 or 4 people that won't get out of the left lane despite the next person they could overtake being half a mile ahead. But I've driven in the states and UK (of course) and it's MUCH worse there.

      What you do see a lot of here is respect for a faster car. You find a lot of people move over very quickly if you're driving a Porsche/Ferrari/Lamborghini :)

      I once got stopped by German police because the personalized license plate I had ("300") on my Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo looked suspicious. They thought I might have stolen the car straight from a dealership. Once we'd cleared it up that it was a genuine number, both officers were keen to talk about how fast it went and what I got it up to on the Autobahn. Petrolhead cops - gotta love it. It was 186mph (300km/h) if you're wondering.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey, all, what global warming there is is the result of many things and human activity is on the list... dead last, of course. #1 on the list is by far the oldest of sources: solar activity.

      Drive your car as fast as the laws allow, and elect people who will vote to raise those limits where they are restrictive.

      Life is too short to let the wackos run it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ausfahrt, that's what is was. I remember seeing that the first time and I thought "what a horrible name for a town" and then I noticed it again when we got off in Essen which was 20 minutes away and though "Ass Fart must be the biggest city in Germany! I wonder if they keep that a secret because their embaresed we'll laugh at them" and then I realized it had to stand for something else and put 2 and 2 together and figured out it just must mean exit.

      Beautiful country, and I would love to take my Subaru Spec B over there and drive, but if I never eat pork again I'll be happy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hessi - Thanks for the information! The AutoNews article I cited misrepresented those speeds and I'll make the correction in a bit.

      James - It was late. The figures are fixed. Thanks.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I like what's been said about high speed driving and its negligible impact, but to "Jason," I am surprised to hear that anyone literate enough to use a computer still believes that carbon emissions are not directly and seriously impacting the environment. The link is pretty well proven (at least in every serious institute of higher learning I'm aware of); are we going to be the generation remembered for whining and looking for ways to avoid responsibility at a critical time? The debate is about whether we'll stop whining, not whether it's a critical time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Good thing this article doesn't go on any further, god only knows how slow 130km/h would be after a few more paragraphs!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Although actors, actresses, entertainers, leftists politicians and social sciences professors agree that man is causing the end of the world, real climatologists do actually agree that the earth is warming. But they can't say exactly why. There's tons of hypothesises, but no consensus. That coupled with the slight percentage that comprises man's contribution. Gases from cow sphincters are now thought to be greater than man's contribution. A little funny, but a hugely embarrassing example on how little data we have on the entire phenomenon. And with the limited knowledge we have... we'll let's just shitcan our entire economy (although Kyoto lets China & India dump all the stuff they want - reeeal smart). Sorry, carbon footprint too big.

      The only real solution that they dare not speak is a severe depopulation. Instead, they'll just hound your work-a-day ass until you're in too much of a stupor to argue back and you'll just accept Chairman Gore's Ecological Revolution. You can sign up now, there are plenty of roles on the "winning" side of this Revolution: Politician, informant, lawyer, meddler, "activist", AutoBlog Green contributor, poetry slam competitor, browshirt, keyboard monkey with a social conscious. Join the fun!
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's not just the Germans who have lane discipline, pretty much every civilized country realizes that the passing lane is ONLY for passing, etc.

      It's rather stunning when you see some drivers actually impressed by that, it should be the norm, and, frankly, the cops in the U.S.A. should be putting a lot of drivers in jail for parking their cars in the left lane, etc.

      That might help pull the U.S.A. out of the third world backwards driving habits that plague it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I hate to agree with 'Bob_Ericson' but he is 100% right. If you want to stop the problems caused by our current systems is to destroy the current population down to a few million. Run everything off solar with enough power to make new panels as the old ones ware out.
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