Speed limit in Germany debate

Image by Erich WestendarpIn the coalition negotiations, the parties are arguing about many important issues, but a rigid speed limit on the autobahns is not one of them. It can be introduced with the stroke of a pen, but we hope that at least the Free Democrats will not be duped by the bogus arguments that supposedly support it.

The first of these is that everyone else already has it. This is the weakest, because nothing can be deduced from it. If all states are up to their ears in debt, does that make it right?

In the case of some of them, the suspicion also arises that it's more about revenue. What they all have in common is that speed limits date back to a time when cars were unsafe and intelligent traffic control was unknown. Today, there are variable regulations that take traffic volume and weather into account, and the permitted speed is then often well below the rigid restriction under discussion. This serves safety on our safest roads more than inflexible regulations. On the other hand, it is hard to see why a sales representative, for example, who has been driving at 160 km/h on a free stretch of road in the early morning, should be restricted by a limit.

Time is money, and a high average speed has already saved us several nights in hotels. The claim that a speed limit costs nothing is therefore wrong. Surveys show that the majority is in favor of it. This is dishonest, to say the least, because it is always easy to ban something that one does not need oneself. Those who often drive long distances on highways would have to be asked, and as far as is known, the majority of them are against it.

But isn't the speed limit an important element in the fight against climate change? According to the Federal Environment Agency, 130 km/h could save just under 2 million tons of CO2 a year. That sounds like a lot until put in relation to the roughly 700 million tons that Germany emits overall, it's pure climate cosmetics. On top of that, the possible savings are taken from coffee grounds, even if the figure comes from officials. The report contains a lot of assumptions whose realism is questionable; it is not enough just to read the summary. Above all, one would have to know how fast the cars actually drive in order to calculate the possible savings, preferably everywhere and at all times. No one knows, the study is based on old data from a few measuring stations.

The Institute of the German Economy has just presented a new evaluation, according to which only a few drive faster than 130, and if they do, then at night - at least in North Rhine-Westphalia. There is no denying that the faster a car drives, the more fuel it consumes. That would argue in favor of zero speed. But beware, electric cars by definition do not emit any pollutants; the idea of exempting them from a limit would then only be logical. Something like this could even boost sluggish sales.

That won't happen, but the rigid speed limit probably will. It is a symbolic policy driven by car haters, as a result of which a piece of freedom will be lost. As a precaution, we are shedding a tear for free driving and will then no longer check the manufacturers' specifications for the maximum speed. It wouldn't matter anyway.

Image by Erich Westendarp


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