Call Goes Out for Speed Limits on Autobahn

VW Derf

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I can confirm this. When I was in Germany in June this was first in the newspapers. Polls done at the time were giving a slight edge to those wanting a speed limit on all autobahns.


As a background for those who haven't been there, not all autobahns are without speed limits. Trucks are limited to 100km/h (sometimes 80km/h) and cars with trailers have a limit as well. Also hills, sharper corners, around cities, etc have limits ranging from 80-120km/h. For the rest there a "Richtgeschwindigkeit" (recommended top speed). The Richtgeschwindigkeit is the speed limit where most insurance companies consider you a fault no mater what. I believe some don't even cover you at those speeds.

That said it's a lot of fun cruising at over 200km/h (even in a Fiat Stilo) or looking down at your trip computer and seeing an average speed of 180+km/h;) I'd venture to guess this may not be legally possible next time I make it to Germany. In comparison most other European countries are limited to 120/h or 130km/h. It has also been stated that there are less fatalities on the Autobahns than US freeways.

Here is another article on this from Germany: www.dw-world.de/english/0,3367,1430_A_1255905_1_A,00.html.

Fred

PS, as you can imagine, my gas Fiat got passed by MANY <font color="red">TDI </font>s ...
 

Philip

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It is the Germans fault for voting for the green party, this is thier wrong doing!

i hope this does not go through
 

TDIde

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Yes it's true that there have been calls for limits on the autobahn here, I think that one of the biggest factors to this was sometime last year, there was a man who killed a woman and her child. Apparently he was running at or near 250kph when he ran into the back of the womans car. The autobahn has been changing for the last few years, there are less and less places ( and driving situations ) where you can open it up and just cruise. I find that most of my driving is done in the 160-180kph, the traffic is so heavy most of the time that higher speeds are just not possiable. If the Germans did "limit" the speeds here, I imagine it would be limited to 160kph (France is 130kph)
 

Mike_04GolfTDI

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Yes it's true that there have been calls for limits on the autobahn here, I think that one of the biggest factors to this was sometime last year, there was a man who killed a woman and her child. Apparently he was running at or near 250kph when he ran into the back of the womans car. The autobahn has been changing for the last few years, there are less and less places ( and driving situations ) where you can open it up and just cruise. I find that most of my driving is done in the 160-180kph, the traffic is so heavy most of the time that higher speeds are just not possiable. If the Germans did "limit" the speeds here, I imagine it would be limited to 160kph (France is 130kph)
I believe the real story is that she saw him approaching fast and she got scared and crashed her own car. He didn't even run into her. It was her own inexperience which lead to the crash... This is just off the top of my head. Maybe someone can find the real story...
 

Mike_Van

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It used to be that the auto makers in Germany had nearly the political influence of the gun lobby in the US. Has that part of the equation actually changed? Many Germans, like my own grandfather, approached driving fast as a given. He used to tell a story of his client asking not about when he could get there for a meeting, but asking what sort of car he drove.

I've lived there and have driven there a fair amount. Aside from driving really fast being just a little contemptuous of the concept of conservation, in my experience, things start to happen quite fast around you at above 120 mph (200 kmh). It is not a relaxing way to travel, especially if you're pushing your vehicle to it's limits. With roads as crowded with trucks as they are in Germany five days a week, a speed limit for cars makes sense to me. If it's too fast for your insurance to want to cover you, is it worth the thrill? I'll admit it's a major rush to drive fast, but I'm not convinced it's all that smart or safe.
 

jmasciulli

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The audio link to the NPR story talks about the incident. Apparently, there was a man riding her tail at 140 MPH, when she lost control of the car. The rule on the Autobahn, AFAIK, based on what I've read, because I've been there, is when someone flashes their lights and rides up on you, you need to get out of the way. If someone does the same thing on the interstate here in the States, I get out of their way.
 

jmasciulli

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I guess it all depends on what you want. I drove from Vacaville, CA to and from Reno on I-80 last weekend, and it was a blast in my Bimmer. The car could take the curves at 80 and I never lost traction. You gotta love German engineering!
 

saabguru

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Last time this came up, the German automakers all agreed to speed limit the cars to 250 KPH, instead of the drivers. Maybe we can start a petition as VERY LOYAL buyers of German cars to influence this. It could spread to the Mercedes-Benz, BMW and other bulletin boards.
 

jscoffin

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I could see this coming, I was fortunate to work for Porsche during the early 90's and there had been talk about putting a limit on it then. At that time BMW and Mercedes already had speed limiters on there cars (155mph) but, Porsche still had the pride of the Germans having the right to drive as fast they want to. Traffic was getting heavy back then and was hard to open up the car I had over there (944S2). There were times I could safely drive at 120mph to 150mph, a few times to 170mph, but most of the time with the traffic I was doing 70mph. Don't know how accurate the speedo was, but a couple of time I had it doing a indicated a pegged 270kph and 6500rpm at redline. It was a thill I will never forget. I will be a sad day when they put a speed limit on the last unlimited stretch of autobahn.
 

jackbombay

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From that audio story it sounds like that notorius crash was totally the fault of the woman, she stacked her car while changing lanes. If you cannot change lanes at 140 stay out of the fast lane, it is really quite simple, she should not have been going that fast because she was lacking the required driving skills, or her car was a POS, either way she was totally at fault.

-Jack
 

TDForNow

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It's inevitable. With the added congestion and attitude changes as well as increased in-car distractions, I'm surprised it hasn't come about sooner. Believe me, I'd hate to see it happen, but if they're suffering the same increased lack of consideration and education as we have here, it'll most likely happen. Flash you're lights at some poke in the left lane here now, at best you'll get the finger. At worst, a ticket for "aggressive driving"!
 

saabguru

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I think that a completely unsympathetic attitude like yours, bombayjack, does NOTHING to help the case for keeping segments of the Autobahn unlimited. We have all figured out she probably just couldn't hack it. She was somebody's daughter, and somebody's mother, too. Maybe not everyone in Germany belongs on the autobahn.
 

BleachedBora

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...Maybe not everyone in Germany belongs on the autobahn.
Isn't that why they have a right lane?
 

Cincy_Mike

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Well, they probably have roads running parallel to the autobahns for people who need to travel but can't handle the autobahns..heh
 

GetMore

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Not that I have any personal experience, but I was under the impression that if someone came up behind you on the Autobahn you were required to pull over to let them pass. The only people that should be in the left lane should be passing.
Of course we have that same law here: The travelling lane is on the right. How many people obey that? It would make driving much nicer if everyone did.
By the way, I heard from someone that there is/was a law in CA that if you have more that three cars behind you (being slowed down by you) you were supposed to pull over so they could pass, regardless of speed. I don't think this was limited to highways. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
 

michael.

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80mph seems kinda low.

Maybe start with 100mph and then lower as needed.

I just wish areas of the US had a higher speed limit. Across the middle US - limits should be raised. Isn't that the point of a "free"way? Get their fast?

m-
 

rdkern

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"Free"way as opposed to a "turnpike" - no fees. They've always has speed limits.

The California law concerning pulling overwith 3 cars behind you applies to the 2-lane roads with pulloff sections - but I've never seen it enforced.
 

shalwechat

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80mph seems kinda low.

Maybe start with 100mph and then lower as needed.

I just wish areas of the US had a higher speed limit. Across the middle US - limits should be raised. Isn't that the point of a "free"way? Get their fast?

m-

german municipalities are looking for extra sources of revenue. revenue from speeding tickets would go a long way to support their local police/fire. it would really add to to a speeding tax and an excuse for higher car insurance rates.

did they have a no speed limits in montana? from what i remember the insurance companies complained about the potential for more claimes. i also remember that local law enforecment complained, along with otr trucking firms.
 

TDIde

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jackbombay,

Your not thinking like a German. Yes the lady was out in the passing lane (and should probably have been back in the right hand lane) it is the responsibility of the 'other driver' to ensure that he/she is being safe. Remember this is a Socialist society here, when you use your turning signal, its to inform others of your intent, and doesnt give you the right to put THEM in an unsafe situation. Another example of this is the law that pertains to bicycle's - if you hit a person (while they are on foot) while riding your bicycle, its YOUR fault, and you have a chance of loosing your DL. Bottom line is, yes you can have the 'autobahn' and cars that will do unlimited speeds, but it doesnt give you the RIGHT to put others at risk.

Just my $.02
 

jackbombay

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TDIde, your post sounds great, but from the audio clip it sounds as if her car crashed without being touched by the passing vehicle. Two people dying is bad no doubt, but IIRC 40,000 die in the US every year from vehicle accidents, but lower speed limits are not the answer IMO. Here is a study that shows that the least fatalities occured on the Interstate in Montana when there was no speed limit, I feel that to some degree the extra danger of high speed travel is offset if not completley overcome by the fact that when hauling ass people actually pay attention instead of talking on the phone, reading the paper/map, etc...

-Jack
 

greencow

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People will still get from here to there quickly enough, they'll still buy fast cars, and they'll be a bit safer overall. There will always be small airports and racetracks rented for public use where you can more safely redline, and if you say that it's not the same if you're not passing people..putting them at risk..then that's rather selfish.

Of course all that said I typically take a 70 mph stretch of open highway at 90 mph because the rush is good and it's more convenient than paying for time at a speedway. But I would drive about the same speed if the limit were 100 mph because that's the speed I feel safe at. The thing that makes it seem most unsafe to me is I'm checking my mirrors for cops every mile or two and if I see one I slow down quicker than I'd like to.

In the US there will be less accidents when the speed limit is lower because the level of training for getting your license isn't adequate. I didn't get collision avoidance and high speed training until I went to a company outing at the speedway. That should be mandatory, as should a driving age of 18. But the second big reason for speed laws out here is to make money, those tickets probably make the state millions and lawmakers will never say it, but you know they're thinking it.
 

gardentender

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i remember getting a speeding ticket on the Autobahn from Kaiserslautern to Frankfurt a.M. back in '73. too fast for a section going through mountains.

a total autobahn speed limit was a controversial subject back then. and that was when it was only "Wessies" were driving high speeds on them.

there were other German traffic laws that were unique in their placing responsibility on the driver. a non-autobahn example was that if while waiting to turn left on a two lane roadway one was not to delay traffic behind you. it your attempt to turn left caused a stack-up of even one other car, you were to abandon your left turn and move on.
sounds drastic, but it makes a certain sense.
"Alles muss in Ordnung sein!"
 

shalwechat

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whatever happed the one who hits, is the one who is liable.

see and avoid

better the be right and alive, opposed to right and dead.

or the smith system of driving and accident avoidence.

sounds german, "im righ, im dead right"
 

PlaneCrazy

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Personally, this old aviator thinks that nobody has any business going at autobahn speeds that close to the ground.

Sixty-five knots (rotation speed on my Beechcraft) sounds about right to me on the ground. That works out to about 75 mph. Faster is OK if a professional pilot in a Boeing or Airbus or some other Big Iron, but only for up to about 10,000 ft of ground run.

In aviation, speed is life, and altitude is life insurance. On the highway, there's no life insurance!

Heck, in 2 weeks I'm going to ride the 300 km/h German ICE train, and even that seems way to fast on the ground even though it's on rails. Give me an old 4-6-2 puffing away at 60 mph with heavyweight coaches behind it, any day.
 

Mike_M

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I just wish areas of the US had a higher speed limit. Across the middle US - limits should be raised. Isn't that the point of a "free"way? Get their fast?
Are you freaking kidding!?!? Here in the States?!?!? Where driver's licenses are almost like birthrights!?!?!? No way should we be going any faster than we're going. I'd love to personally, and have proven myself able to handle it (a few contralegal jaunts on the rural byways), but we don't have, by and large, as good a group of drivers as in any one European country.

People here just don't know how to drive! (And I'm 100% red-blooded American...this is no outsider making a comment like this.)

Mike
 

shalwechat

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I just wish areas of the US had a higher speed limit. Across the middle US - limits should be raised. Isn't that the point of a "free"way? Get their fast?
Are you freaking kidding!?!? Here in the States?!?!? Where driver's licenses are almost like birthrights!?!?!? No way should we be going any faster than we're going. I'd love to personally, and have proven myself able to handle it (a few contralegal jaunts on the rural byways), but we don't have, by and large, as good a group of drivers as in any one European country.

People here just don't know how to drive! (And I'm 100% red-blooded American...this is no outsider making a comment like this.)

Mike

lil off the subject of autobahn but...

"Where driver's licenses are almost like birthrights!?!?!?"

that what the government wants. according to the provision of the usa patriot act, one can be detained (not arrested) by law enforcement for NOT having a drivers license even as a pedistrian. the detention can last as long as needed to verify your identity.
 

Tarbe

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I just wish areas of the US had a higher speed limit. Across the middle US - limits should be raised. Isn't that the point of a "free"way? Get their fast?
Are you freaking kidding!?!? Here in the States?!?!? Where driver's licenses are almost like birthrights!?!?!? No way should we be going any faster than we're going. I'd love to personally, and have proven myself able to handle it (a few contralegal jaunts on the rural byways), but we don't have, by and large, as good a group of drivers as in any one European country.

People here just don't know how to drive! (And I'm 100% red-blooded American...this is no outsider making a comment like this.)

Mike
AMEN! I saw plenty of them yesterday during my 500 mile jaunt. Too many ought not to be driving, let alone being given more latitude to be stupid!

Who in their right mind goes 10-15mph over the limit in the right lane, when that lane is occupied by a vehicle going the limit (mine!)? Maybe we can give more latitude after we require more training.

I swear I'm gonna mount that burp gun in my grill one of these days


Tim
 

BleachedBora

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In Finland drivers licenses cost ~$1200 (1000€)--and come with three months of intense drivers education in either a BMW, Mercedes or AUDI. They go through days of working with skids like Police over here do, etc... In the end, Finns are known to be some of the best drivers in the world. In fact, (I spent two years there) on the day I left the country the headline in the national newspaper was, "Girl drives off road!" (translated headline) Anyway, their licenses are good for 50-years, but they go through the training to get them! Yesterday I was cosmic bowling, ran into a girl that looked like she was 20--she finally told me that she was turning 16 in 5-days, and because everyone thought she was a lot older she has been driving for over 2-years already, never been caught, and was looking forward to getting her license so that she could drive legally. IMHO, people like that, people that yack on their cell phones all day without paying attention, people that drive while practically falling asleep,
people that shave or play the trumpet, or do make-up while driving (all seen by me before) should be shot; or at least have their licenses taken away.

In Finland when a drunk driver hits someone, the insurance company will pay for the damage to the other driver, but not to the drunk. I wish we had a law like that here; it might cut down on drunken drivers. I've driven from Provo, Utah to Vegas with the cruise set at 100 almost the whole way... (Got 36 MPG
) I'd love to be able to do that legally, but unfortunately too many wackos are not capable of handling those speeds. Oh well, time to get off my soap box now...

Cheers,
-BB
 

RogueTDI

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Some over-blown news coverage of some autobahn accidents, and people are ready to dump a major part of their national heritage? This whole thing, including that NPR bit, is crap, pure and simple.

None of the reasons offered by the speed limit proponents really holds merit. Reduced emissions? A drop in the bucket - not too many drivers drive fast anyway. Lowered accident rates? Again, not likely a major difference. Gas prices or saving fuel? Let the driver decide.

I could go into much more depth, so don't think I am being naive/simplistic. This whole thing is a load of hogwash, especially the comments from that party proponent. A speed limit is "a symbol of mature civilization" ???
"This is simply reducing accidents..." BS. Oh, Germany's neighbors have speed limits? Wow! Thats a great reason for Germany to adopt one, after almost 70 years of not needing one!
What a load of garbage.

Also, the NPR piece was inaccurate and mischaracterized the reality of the matter. The Autobahn largely unregulated? Nonsense. Rethinking their attitudes? These ideas are hardly new - its just that the liberals are more in control now in Deutschland. Stay out of the left lane unless going 140mph or faster??? Again, more nonsense. Lots of left lane driving happens at ~100mph. Politicians in "almost all of Germany's mainstream parties" are calling for speed limits? What does that mean? Not much - and an ambiguous and misleading statement. Economic incentive because of fuel prices?? Not at all.
 
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