German Parliament Rejects Autobahn Speed Limits

Some of us here at Jalopnik think that the Autobahn, Germany’s system of motorways with stretches without speed regulation, is overrated. It seems, though, that after a vote this week on whether a speed limit should be enforced over the entirety of the system, Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, disagrees.

A measure to introduce a 130 km/h (roughly 81 mph) speed limit on the network of motorways that has crisscrossed the country since the ‘30s was introduced by the German Green Party was rejected on Thursday by a majority of Bundestag members. Germany is currently the only country in Europe with stretches of unrestricted motorways, with neighboring countries conforming at the very least to the 130 km/h limit similar to the one proposed.

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Deutsche Welle reports that the current government, which is led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and is composed of a coalition of Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc and the SPD, had already rejected the notion of speed limits on the Autobahn earlier this year when the idea was proposed by environmentalists, with transportation minister Andreas Scheuer outright canceling the meeting to discuss the recommendations.

Since the opposition from the governing coalition was so strong, the Green Party didn’t expect the measure to pass but felt it was important to make an attempt in any case. Deutsche Welle reports that Green Party member Cem Özdemir described his motivation for pursuing the vote in an interview with ARD, a German public broadcaster, saying that Green party proposals often start without mainstream support but slowly gain consensus over time.

It should be noted, though, that this isn’t the first time speed limits for the Autobahn have been proposed. On this very website five years ago, a German reader named Mark Linde explored the issue in depth, and it seems like the discourse over there has yet to evolve any further.

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As of now, the status quo remains and a large portion of the Autobahn remains derestricted most of the time. Of course, stretches of these motorways in more densely-populated areas do have speed limits, and weather conditions, construction, and congestion can all cause temporary speed limits to be put in place in areas where normally there are none, but the fact remains that Germany is one of the last places you can really see what your car is capable of (at least in your hands) on public roads.

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Max Finkel

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.