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]