Germany’s Climate Crusade May Put An End To No Speed-Limit Autobahns

From The Daily Caller

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Your chance to fly down Germany’s famous no speed-limit autobahns may be slipping away if the government decides to move forward with proposed regulations aimed at climate change.

A German government committee proposed fuel tax hikes, electric vehicle quotas and lower speed limits to meet European Union targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. If targets aren’t met, Germany could face massive fines.

Germany, known for making high-performance and luxury vehicles, is also known for its autobahns, portions of which have no speed limits. While the recommendations aren’t final, they mirror proposals pushed by the neighboring French government as part of its climate agenda.

France’s government planned on raising carbon taxes on fuels at the beginning of 2019, but scrapped the planned fuel tax increases after weeks of violent protests. France also cut speed limits last year to reduce traffic fatalities.

French officials also touted lower speed limits as a way to reduce pollution and fight global warming by cutting auto emissions 30 percent. Drivers were not happy.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Athens

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (not pictured) hold a joint news conference at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Costas Baltas.

Protests sparked in November over fuel taxes have since taken aim at lower speed limits. CNN reported in early January that 60 percent of France’s traffic cameras were vandalized. France is still plagued with riots over President Emmanuel Macron’s policies.

The German committee’s draft proposal suggests “a motorway speed limit of 130 kmh [about 80 miles per and fuel tax hikes from 2023, the abolition of tax breaks for diesel cars and quotas for electric and hybrid car sales could deliver half the greenhouse gas emissions cuts that are needed,” according to an outline seen by Reuters.

The worry now is, will speed limits on autobahns anger the car-loving Germans as much as the French? What about when combined with increased fuel taxes? (RELATED: The Inside Story Of How Ocasio-Cortez’s Staff Came Up With The ‘Green New Deal’ Is Going To Surprise You)

“So it’s official, ‘climate’ activists ruin everything,” says the U.S.-based Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). ATR said the policies, if adopted, “will likely lead to a similar form of Yellow Vest protests as the most recent demonstrations against the attempt of French President Macron to raise fuel taxes.”

However, the city-state of Bremen put a speed limit on its freeways in 2008 over environmental concerns, and the region did not descend into mass rioting. Bremen already had speed limits on most highways to limit congestion and noise.

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119 thoughts on “Germany’s Climate Crusade May Put An End To No Speed-Limit Autobahns

  1. The US forced a wildly unpopular nationally imposed speed limit of 55 mph (88 kph) during the ’70s oil embargo as a means of reducing fuel usage. As soon as the political lunacy abated so did the torpid pace of commerce.

      • The 55 MPH NMSL was the most ignored and hated law since Prohibition.

        The Safety Nazis and the Anti-Destination League ‘cooked the books’ in order to justify keeping 55, saying that it saved lives. But once one took a look at all of the stats, including the death rate per 100 million passenger miles, the lie was exposed. The reason the total number of traffic fatalities went down during the oil embargo (and 55 MPH speed limit imposition) was because fewer people were driving. The death rate saw no appreciable decline outside the already declining trend.

        • The arguments in favor of the 55MPH speed limit were a classic example in how to lie with statistics. The graph of the highway death rate shows a dip during the oil embargo, and the imposition of the 55 MPH limit, and then returns to the same trend of a steady decrease. It rather looks like a bite out of a fairly smooth curve.
          I do remember Ralph Nader calling Bill Clinton a “mass murderer” for signing the repeal.

  2. We have some experience with reducing the speed limit to conserve fuel. link

    The plan was to reduce fuel consumption by 2.2%. The result was closer to half or quarter of that. Reducing speeds to limit CO2 emissions will have similar disappointing results at best.

    • Think of ALL the carbon spewing unnecessarily into the atmosphere while automobiles remain idling STOPPED at stoplights with no cross traffic! Before slowing down drivers … how about applying our myriad technologies to KEEP TRAFFIC MOVING!! Road widening, so there are no more morning traffic jams!! Someone should do the calculation. I am convinced we could massively clean up the atmosphere and SAVE oil simultaneously. Sequence every signal light. Sensors that FREE traffic, rather than JUST stop it.

      But that has NEVER been the goal of “environmentalists”. Their goal is GET YOU OUT OF YOUR CAR. They want to IMPEDE your progress … not facilitate it and make it efficient. This is WAR!! A WAR against YOUR FREEDOM of movement.

      • My town has been gradually replacing stop signs and stop lights with traffic circles.
        Traffic flow has definitely improved. Now we we could just teach the idiots that they don’t have come to a full stop before entering a circle.

          • steve case

            Just read the regulations for using them and they are an aid to making progress on the roads. The UK is littered with them and they are very good.

            Assuming everyone else has read the same literature!

          • I used to feel like that. Traffic circles take a bit of getting used to, but now that I’ve seen them in appropriate places and gotten comfortable with them, I like them. However, I do find that many of them are too small, being retrofit into neighborhoods that don’t expand the right-of-way to give them a large enough diameter. In the residential areas where I encounter them in S. Florida, the alternative is a 4-way stop at nearly every intersection. Nobody needs that aggravation.

        • MarkW

          I understand that the American versions of roundabouts (traffic circles) which do indeed aid traffic flow, favour the vehicle approaching the roundabout over those on it. I may well be mistaken. In the UK and Europe, traffic on the roundabout have unimpeded right of way over those joining it.

          The reason I ask is that a relative lives in Bermuda whose traffic system largely mimics the UK (it’s a British colony) and American visitors for whom it is popular, were getting wiped out on roundabouts when they believed than on approaching one, they had right of way.

          As for the German proposition to reduce speed limits, the speed limit on British dual carriageways (Motorways for want of a better description) with two or more lanes in either direction is 70mph. They are the safest roads anywhere in the country by a large margin, in the most part because pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed on them.

          However, the speed limit is routinely disobeyed, not least by me travelling at 95mph wherever possible. Travelling at over 100mph carries automatic penalties out of all proportion to the extra 5mph if one is caught. Yes we do have speed (safety) cameras but they are mostly static and predictable so serve little if no purpose other than money generators for the government.

          I’m perfectly capable of travelling at speed because I’m amongst the top 1% of drivers in the country, relative to training, nor am I boasting here, it’s simply an accumulation of circumstances.

          My contention is that with specific regulation, relative to driver training, and vehicle power to weight ratio, I believe there is a sound case for any country to have de regulated Motorway speed limits. E.g If one passes the basic driving test one can only drive a small, low powered car and are restricted (not by vehicle governance) to certain speeds.

          As one gains experience and progresses through driver training, the power to weight ratio of the car is increased and the respective speed of progress is also increased.

          It could be accomplished through, say, a three stage process, which already exists in the UK as a voluntary scheme, and would result in better educated drivers, travelling at higher speeds, in safety, in the knowledge that those around them are unlikely to do anything incredibly stupid.

          Speed itself doesn’t kill, the impact does, but ignorance causes the crash.

          We all imagine ourselves to be great drivers, but until one has taken a secondary (advanced, but I despise that elitist term) driving course, much like taking a higher education qualification, they don’t realise how incredibly ignorant (and dangerous) they are.

          Ultimately the result would be safer drivers, making better progress, with fewer crashes and consequent delays, more lives preserved, and lower emissions.

          I’m not sure I understand why the collective intellectual might of governments can’t imagine this a viable way forward, EV’s or otherwise.

          In the UK, and I suspect the rest of Europe, one can sit the basic qualifying driving test in a Ferrari, and drive it away from the testing station, unaccompanied. The concept is beyond ridiculous.

          • “I’m perfectly capable of travelling at speed because I’m amongst the top 1% of drivers in the country, relative to training, nor am I boasting here, it’s simply an accumulation of circumstances”.
            Idiotic argument, for two reasons.
            1) Surveys have consistently shown that people overestimate their own skills.
            2) People who flout the rules cause anger / confusion among other drivers. These other drivers need to take actions to avoid the speed-devils. That causes them to make mistakes, and potentially trigger accidents.

          • Bob Turner

            1) My skills have been professionally assessed on numerous occasions at the highest standard. I am very well aware of my capabilities and limitations.

            2) Having been trained as a pursuit driver by Strathclyde Police in Scotland I am, again, well aware of when and where I can drive quickly, safely without inconveniencing, endangering, or enraging other drivers. No one has ever had to take evasive action to avoid me.

            Much like I’m sure you have studied your profession for many years and consider yourself far more capable at it than me (quite rightly) I have studied driving and driver behaviour at a professional level for over 40 years.

          • HotScot,

            The German licensing is difficult, as my daughter found when she moved to Germany. California does not have reciprocity with B-W and she had to go through the full training course and on the road testing. This took considerable time and money.

          • HotScot – a perfect example of someone who overrates his abilities. I too spent many years driving fast, skillfully and considerately. Not so fast now that, unlike him, I have to pay for my own fuel.

        • The entrance to a traffic circle is a yield and doesn’t require a full stop. Anyone already in the circle has the right of way unless there’s enough space in front of them for the car entering to safely accelerate in front of them. Most of the fuel savings comes from not having to stop and re-accelerate. Otherwise, you’re just using gasoline to heat up the brakes.

          • Strangely enough, most people in the UK misunderstand the laws of priority at roundabouts, and anyone who does understand and tries to follow the rules will get a BMW in his driver’s door within the day. Either the Highway Code needs rewriting more simply, or the law needs changing to match common usage.

        • I got used to round abouts (traffic circles) when I was stationed in England in the 1970s and thought they were great. There was very little full stopping and traffic flow adjusted automatically to the rates of flow into the circle. Of course, in the UK people were polite and well mannered and made it work smoothly. We may never have that sort of citizenry here to achieve the same.

  3. Having driven small cars on German autobahns since 1963, I know that looking in your rear vision mirror for lunatics driving at 200 kmph is essential every few seconds. I would not miss those 200 kmph. guys. As for the rest of the CO2 lunacy reasoning, it would not be missed either.

    • You would only need to check for “lunatics driving at 200 kph” in your rearview mirror every few seconds if you were in the left (passing) lane. Stay to the right except when passing and you should never have trouble with the speeders. Checking your rearview mirrors every few seconds at all times, regardless of being in the left lane on a German autobahn, is prudent defensive driving. Driving a motor vehicle is an active task, not a passive one, that requires alertness. Unfortunately too many drives treat it otherwise.

      • Yeah, but when they come from behind in 250, it is a matter of seconds before you are close to being pulped.

        • If you are in the correct lane the issue is upon them to moderate their speed accordingly or change lanes.

          • Rocketscientist

            When everybody understands, and plays by the rules, it works fine. But most people pass a rudimentary driving test and have no concept of how to drive slowly never mind quickly.

          • HotScot, …… I agree.

            And I truly believe that most drivers, excluding OTR truck drivers, pays little to no attention to the traffic flow on either side or behind them ……. until they decide to “change” lanes.

            The automobile is the most complex/complicated piece of machinery ever devised that one must learn to operate to move it from point “A” to point “B” without wrecking it, …… yet tens-of-thousands of licensed drivers either claim or are diagnosed with being unable to learn to perform productive work.

      • I might go one step further. I concur completely that if you are going to be operating a deadly machine out in public, you had better be well aware of your surroundings at all times, not just occasionally. There is no reason why you should ever be caught surprised while driving.
        But, don’t rely on your mirrors. That’s why your neck swivels.

        • Rocketscientist

          Every time you move your neck it has an effect on your steering, ask any competent motorcyclist.

          You should be alternating your vision between out your windscreen, your mirrors and your speedometer every 10 seconds or so, irrespective of where, or what speed you are driving at.

          You should pay more attention to your mirrors when you are in fast moving traffic so you can asses the speed of approaching vehicles from the rear.

          Cruise control is a real road safety benefit if used properly (switch the damn thing off and use the engine to decelerate instead of braking!) as it allows you to concentrate on looking through your windscreen and into your mirrors.

          And the best thing a driver can do is to STF up and concentrate on driving instead of chattering to a passenger or drinking coffee. A car is, as you say, potentially a lethal weapon if driven badly.

          • I drove a motor cycles for many years (in New York and Boston). Oddly enough I can turn my head from side to side without moving my arms. It’s called coordination.
            Presently I drive 2 hrs every day on LA freeways. It’s quite easy to spot the drivers on their cell phones based upon their driving pattern alone.

            However, I cannot agree with you more on the need for drivers to STF and pay attention!

          • Depends. In a car that I am familiar with, I can do everything – adjust the radio, pick up the drink and sip, talk to other people, etc., without taking my eyes off the road or losing my awareness of other people. Now, I don’t use makeup – but I also don’t make or answer any phone calls / texts, or try reading a map. Anything that requires me to take my eyes out of the “threat scan” cycle. (Oh, and an instrument check is only done about every fifth or sixth cycle – not every one.)

          • Rocketscientist

            Each to their own I guess but the perceived wisdom in the UK by trained motorcyclists is that if you are using your mirrors properly you should be aware of what’s around, and approaching you at all times thereby dispensing with what is known as ‘a life saver’, which is a turn of the head to the left (right in the UK) before making a manoeuvre.

            I’m afraid few motorcyclists are as accomplished as you and usually do wander slightly as they conduct a life saver. And at speed on a motorway it is positively dangerous as the head movement changes the dynamic of the bike and can induce a tank slapper.

          • Oddly enough I can turn my head from side to side without moving my arms.

            If I am a passenger in a vehicle whose driver habitually “turns the steering wheel a wee bit” every time, ….. and in the same direction, …… that he/she turns their head to talk or look, …… it literally scares the bejesus out of me.

        • Swivel when you are changing lanes, or merging (same thing, almost). That lets you see some of the spots that are blind to your mirrors.

          The main thing, in my opinion, that makes a driver safe is planning. Plan for the car in front of you to suddenly slam on its brakes, swerve into your lane, or do some other dangerous thing. Plan for the idiot that is coming up on you at fifty (relative) miles an hour to swing around you, passing lane / zone, room to do it, or not.

          When I was required to take a “defensive driving” course for my county job (ridiculous, I was nowhere near the pecking level that rated a county car), I failed one part miserably. When asked “How far ahead do you look?”, I answered “Just as far as I can see!” I don’t recall what the “right” answer was, as I promptly forgot it.

          Let me see, I’ve been in five accidents in not quite fifty years of driving. Every last one, I was rear-ended (the most recent one, by the poor woman whose car was sandwiched between the texting teenager and me – the guy ahead of me, waiting to make a left off of the single lane, wasn’t touched).

          • Writing Observer

            If you are using your mirrors properly you shouldn’t have to swivel, you should be aware at all times what’s around you. In the UK, the advice when changing lanes is to use the indicators (turn signal) only when it will benefit another, and in plenty of time when necessary.

            There are a couple of things you can do to avoid being rear ended. If someone is travelling to closely behind you (which you will be aware of by good use of your mirrors of course) you can give the necessary signal to move into a lane to your right (left in the UK) and just let them past or, you can gradually reduce your speed by decelerating (not by jumping on the brakes) until the gap between you both, matches the speed you are travelling at. The first one is preferable as the second one is inclined to induce anger, but at least you should be safe.

            I don’t like the term ‘defensive driving’ preferring assertive, making manoeuvres unambiguous with clear signals.

            I’m not sure what your examiner expected you to say when he asked how far ahead you should look. I wouldn’t have had a problem with your answer unless he was experting you to be looking at the horizon. However to be precise one should ideally be scanning from the car directly in front of you to as far as you can see ahead and back again.

            FYI, I was a Police trained pursuit driver, a qualified driving instructor and a RoSPA (Royal society for the Prevention of Accidents) advanced driver (Cars and Motorcycles).

          • If someone is travelling to closely behind you …. you can …..

            You can keep your right foot on the Gas Pedal to maintain your speed ….. and use your left foot to slightly depress the Brake Pedal which will activate your Brake Lights ….. and the driver on your “tail” should react accordingly and ACTUALLLY apply his/her brakes.

            And iffen you look in your rear-view mirror you will probably be getting “the finger”. 😊 😊

          • Samuel C Cogar

            You can keep your right foot on the Gas Pedal to maintain your speed ….. and use your left foot to slightly depress the Brake Pedal which will activate your Brake Lights

            I trust you are joking about that because it’s positively one of the worst things you can do for so many reasons. Just pull over or gently slow until you can pull over. The last thing you want to do is get involved with an idiot like that so let them pass and they can have their crash well away from you.

      • One time I rented a Renault Clio and I must have been passed a thousand times. Another time I had an Audi A4. It was a Sunday morning, clear weather and I opened it up and briefly maxed it out. I will likely never travel that fast in a car again. I nearly missed the exit for the Frankfurt airport.

      • Exactly.
        I’ve had the pleasure of driving very high prformance vehicles in most of Europe, the UK,US and Canada and lately parts of Central America. The Germans win for automotive skills and competence, mainly because all the careless ones are currently deceased. The higher speeds have a definite culling effect on the driving population. Darwin would be intrigued.

        • Agreed! The Darwin Award winners do not last long!

          After many thousands of km driving on the Autobahnen, I never saw any lunatics driving at 200 kph or higher. I did see people flashing their lights at me when they were still 1,000 meters or more to my rear. This allowed plenty of time to move over to let them by. The goal of driving on any highway is to enhance traffic flow, not obstruct it.

          I agree that German drivers are skilled and keep their eyes on the road far ahead. Most US drivers (according to what I learned at Smith System training) look just beyond their hood and seldom check their mirrors. If you drive in this fashion on an Autobahn, you will get into trouble. In fact, this is the cause of most accidents on US highways.

          The section of unlimited Autobahn is significantly reduced over what it was a few decades ago. As you near a city, the speed limits appear: 120 kph then 100 kph and sometimes 80 kph. The same is true at Autobahn junctions. Each of these controlled sections has much higher congestion because the same number of vehicles per minute are compressed into much less road. Lower speed means increasing the cars per km which worsens congestion.

    • Nicholas William Tesdorf

      I have driven on the autobahns in West Germany and former East Germany. I never had a problem with the fast drivers – they typically flashed their headlights before passing me and were easy to spot.

      My problem, particularly in former East Germany, were the slow-moving Trabants – round a curve and there they were, almost stopped as they plodded along with their 24hp two-stroke engines, a “marvel” of Soviet engineering, spewing ten times the pollution of a modern Mercedes, and almost invisible from their trailing cloud of white smoke.

      After the Berlin wall fell, there was so much construction on the autobahns that there were frequent episodes where the entire traffic line would completely stop. This was exciting – round a bend at speed and both lanes are stopped – you and the car beside you are running parallel, brakes in full lock-up, skidding a half-mile to a stop with a few feet to spare… … those German cars are well-engineered, and skid remarkably straight in full lock-up. And it’s way better than coffee for a wake-up call. 🙂

      • ALLAN MACRAE

        Travelling too fast for the conditions mate.

        The one simple rule of safe driving is one must be able to stop safely, within the distance one can see to be safe ahead.

        If you’re stonking round a bend and have to lock the thing up to stop, you can be 100% certain you have violated that fundamental concept.

        It is the golden rule of motoring and saves lives. Unfortunately too many people are simply unaware of the physics and practicalities of driving. On that occasion, so were you, and we have all been guilty of it at some time, thankfully we survived.

        • The #1 requirement for SAFE driving? Vision. Visibility. It is EVERY drivers obligation to SEE EVERYTHING. Yes … EVERYTHING within visible distance of your automobile. Both sides, front and back. Your eyes should be scanning, recording (in your brain), and processing (in your brain) all that you see. Your eyes should scan the horizon, sides, and rear … constantly!! Driving is an active, FOCUSED endeavor. Driving is not a “multi-task” along with applying makeup, or reading the newspaper, or texting a friend. Driving is THEE task. Driving is NOT a “passive” activity, wherein your “connected” automobile “virtually” drives itself. No, it does not.

          Inattentive driving is the #1 cause of accidents.

          I watched my own children require TIME and EXPERIENCE before they became competent drivers, which included a number of fender benders and a high speed, airbag deployment crash caused by an abandoned vehicle in the middle lane of a 5-lane freeway. Hint: please work your way to the shoulder, when you feel your car starting to die … it could save many lives.

          Pay Attention!! Sadly, the vast majority of drivers I encounter on the freeways NEVER, or rarely check their mirrors side, or rear. Then they act “surprised” when passed. Hey! Regardless of the speed you’re driving! Pay attention! Wake the fkcu up !!

          • Kenji

            You can still see lots when you are driving too fast for the conditions or not able to stop in the distance ahead you can see to be safe. It is the number one rule of safe driving. To put it crudely, if you are stationary you cannot be the culprit in a crash.

            Why on earth would you want to scan the horizon? It’s seven miles away on a straight, flat road? Nor is there any point in scanning the horizon to your side for similar reasons.

            Observations are important, but they are only a single element of driving safely.

            Forgive me for asking but did you enrol your children on any advanced driving courses after they had their fender benders. It would have accelerated their learning curve dramatically.

        • No argument here, HotScot my friend. You are correct.

          Fortunately, I am accident-free after about 55 years of driving – although some of that was good luck and skill rather than good judgment – and you will be pleased to know that I have slowed down.

          Some young men and women seem to need a higher degree of risk in their lives – and it too often results in serious injury or death – typically through fast driving, extreme sports, etc. Calgary and region are home to many extreme sportsmen – mountain free-climbers (no equipment), ice-climbers (who climb frozen waterfalls), base-jumpers, Everest teams, extreme skiers, kayakers, bicyclists, etc.

          We lose a few every year – but they do live exciting lives.

          Check these videos of base jumpers:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q971MCu8MyY
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh06wlg9RmU

          • that video is a an editing fantasy bye the way, the only person to do a controlled , injury free landing in a wingsuit is Gary Connery in the UK. I know of one other who flew unintentionally into trees while terrain following, but he had significant injuries.

          • Yarpos – kindly Google:
            Raphael Dumont Lake Garda wingsuit Sept 30th 2013.
            You will find several pages of articles.

            You weren’t there, and neither was I – your opinion is this stunt was faked and my opinion is that it was real – just as real as the previous jump onto cardboard boxes by Gary Connery on May 23, 2012 in Britain.

      • Trabants were a serious problem right after the wall came down. With their maximum speed of 85-90 kph they were like a crawling roadblock. The DDR drivers had little idea how to drive on the Autobahn.

        Ordinarily, I found driving on the Autobahn to much more predictable than driving on 101. Before driving on the unlimited sections of the Autobahn, one must understand the German rules of the road. It is illegal to pass on the right, therefore you simply can not cruise slowly in the left lane. At 160 -200 mph you can spend more time in the left lane, but you must keep checking your mirrors.

        • The Trabant problem was reduced in so far as in old East Germany you had a speed limit at 100 km/h and you had to be aware of a lot hidden speed controls.

          At 160 -200 mph you can spend more time in the left lane, but you must keep checking your mirrors.

          Partly wrong, it’s more impotant to have a look in front of you paying attention to drivers n o t looking in t h e i r mirrors and try changing the lane.
          It’s always important to have an idea what couldt happen and to be aware of it.

          Btw, once I have the drive speed I choiced or in case of a limit allowed, I see no reason to look at any instument, because it’s to have the feeling for accelerating and to drive to fast.

          • Krishna Gans

            Partly wrong, it’s more impotant to have a look in front of you paying attention to drivers not looking in their mirrors……

            Too bad if you have a 250mph Ferrari approaching you, you won’t see it if you’re not checking your mirrors properly.

            I see no reason to look at any instument……

            Too bad if a warning light flashes up on your dashboard. At those speeds an engine will expire extremely rapidly.

          • “… in old East Germany you had a speed limit at 100 km/h”

            Rather easy to stay below that limit in a Trabie, with a top speed of perhaps 90km/h.

            Now if you were driving the Wartburg – longer, lower, more powerful – well, look out!

            And if you were among the elite, and drove a Zil limousine? Man, what a chick magnet!

            Bu the really hot wheels were driven by the Stasi – they had VW microbuses! In July 1989 we had a Stasi driver, and we blew past those Trabies like they were standing still (which they actually kinda sorta were)! 🙂

    • As you have driven on German Autobahns since 1963 yioy have vastly more experience of them than I do (mostyearssince 1999) so I yield to your greater experience. My experience is that the stretches of Autobahns with no speed limit were not very common. Most stretchers had some limit or other. Indeed one of the annoying things about driving on German Autobahns is the frequency with which the speed limit changes. As for stretches with no limit I don’t think I ever got overtaken by somebody driving at 200kph. That’s not to say nobody does; I’m just saying what was my experience. My experience, by the way, relates to Autobahns in the north, in the south, in the east and in the west. One other comment worth making about German Autobahns is STAU! Say ‘Stau’ to a German and they will instantly groan as what will come to mind are the long queues that are frequently experienced. Some intersections of Autobahns are infamous.
      As for HotScot he may well be the most advanced and skillful driver – ever. That, however, does not mean that every driver who chooses to drive well above the speed limit is equally skilled. The general experience of speeding drivers is that they are a unique class of ultra-selfish drivers. I just hope that if the houses of these selfish drivers are burgled while they are ignoring the law, they do not complain about other people chosing to ignore the law.
      A Man For All Seasons – Clip “Give The Devil Benefit Of Law”

    • Yes. And following the gilets jaunes grabbing Macron by the pair, the government backtracked saying that on country roads it would revert from the newly introduced 80 back to 90kph where the new 80 “does not make sense”. Whatever.

  4. My experience from this summer, driving from Denmark via Hamburg, Berlin to Tschekkia, is that to fly down German motorways is outright impossible.

    Like in US, you have plenty of trucks, unlike US they keep to the left of the mostly two lanes, drive 20 km below the general speed of other trffic based on highway code and small engines stuck underneath the driver to optimize the length of the cargo area. But unlike US they do not constantly overtake other trucks driving 2 miles faster in the left lane.

    To the left no matter what speed you drive (I chickened out at around 190 kmh, around 120 mph), you are overtaken by rude drivers in Audis who makes it abundantly clear that they have the right of way, forcing you to immediately reduce speed to 120 kmh while they tailgate you with all headlights on and force you turn over to the right.

    Only thing that works is that they never pass on the right side. Then add a LOT of maintenance work, inconvenient, by I admit often sadly missing in the US.

    But compared to US freeways, the German ones are in my perception a congested mess, and the freed speed is one reason for this, even if free speed is not as common as believed

    • RPT

      I don’t want to be critical here, but if you were tailgated at 120mph on an Autobhan you probably weren’t paying as much attention to your mirrors as you thought you were.

      German drivers travelling at speed will usually flash their lights at you some distance away if they are going much faster than you are.

      In the UK it’s somehow considered a challenge despite the Highway Code clearly stating that flashing ones lights to make other aware of your presence is not only acceptable but good practise.

      But the last time most people read the Highway Code was when they passed their driving test, despite it being updated every year.

      We still have drivers in the UK believing that the speed limit on single lane carriageways (one lane in each direction) on an ‘unrestricted’ road is 50mph, which it is what the government temporarily reduced it to in the 1970’s during the fuel crisis!

  5. Well, Angela Merkel is on the way out anyway, so enacting an unpopular law cannot hurt her. What it does to her party, though. . .

  6. This won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back from the environmentalists but there will be one for Germany, and every other country going down the energy retrograde worm hole. Hopefully people around the world will start asking the right questions and get a better understanding of what AGW is really all about. Up to now saving the world only involved personal contrition but once it involves personal well being the game changes.

    • So, how does it change to the point that well being can be maintained while meeting the scientific organization recommendations for substantial GHG emission reductions in the coming decades? How can an acceptable way to tackle heat trapping gas emissions be formed?

      • Missing the point; there ARE NO “heat trapping gases,” according to any actual empirical evidence. There is nothing to “tackle,” and all such “non-solutions” would do absolutely NOTHING about it, even if the alarmist claims were factual.

  7. Was talking to a German guy (now living in Waterloo Ontario Canada) a few weeks ago. He had just come back from spending a month with relatives in Germany. He mentioned that anywhere not on the special sections of the Autobahn nobody goes more than the speed limit. Radar every few kilometers on every road. Especially if you are coming from a highway into a town where the limit drops.

    • This was my experience was well when I drove to Cologne from Holland a few years ago. There were speed limits near towns and where road maintenance was ongoing.

  8. British servicemen and their families serving in Germany used to be warned that if they were in a car crash to insist on being taken to a British or American services hospital on the grounds that German hospitals had a strong preference for amputating limbs in preference to trying to repair damage. 5his was because you could rehabilitate comparatively quickly from a lost hand or foot and be back at work more rapidly.
    Perhaps a modest reduction in speeds might reduce the chances of this problem. An Audi wouldn’t be my choice to do this sort of speed anyway.

    • Moderately Cross of East Anglia

      An Audi wouldn’t be my choice to do this sort of speed anyway.

      Why on earth not?

      • My Audi 80 V6 Avant was quite happy at 101mph in 1994, until I got nicked just outside Newbury on the M4. The coppers thought I had stolen it. It was the best car for sustained motorway speed I had ever driven.

  9. I guess all Porsche owners will engage in a march on the capital. Why own one if you can’t give it a little “exercise”. Almost 40 years ago I was driving on an Autobahn at a speed of approximately 100 MPH when a Porsche passed me as if I was stopped.

  10. Truck traffic on the Autobahn is restricted to 100 kph max, and may only operate on Sundays with special permssion. But like RPT said there are many problems with congestion, reported on SVR1 or which ever radio station you tune into as an “X kilometer Stau.” There are also many places on the Autobahns that have a restricted speed limit due to geography, urbanization and the like. It’s true, though, passing on the right is not done. I drove my Mercedes E430 kombi from Kaiserslautern to the airport in Frankfurt in about 40 minutes. I was peeling it back, maybe running 130 mph. Those were the salad days.

    • You’ll come into big trouble with 100 km/h and “earn” very expensive tickets in great numbers.
      Speed limit for trucks on a German Autobahn is 80 km/h.

    • I thought that the speed limit for trucks in EU is 90 KmH.
      And AFAIK they have build in limit, so they can’t go above that. Maybe the official rule still is 100 in DE but in countries like NL it is 90 and I’m pretty sure that the max is now hard-wired into the controls (but again that may be limited to Western European trucks).

  11. It is usual to have a speed limit of 130 km/h in north Germany, the free speed is mainly in the south, home of the Mercedes and BMW.

    Driving with a big speed difference between the lanes is tiresome, my German friends say their average Autobahn speed is 100 km/ h , due to the need for breaks.

  12. I once blew the engine of a Mercedes A-class on the Autobahn and I was driving in the slow lane. OK it was a rental, I was keeping it under 90 mph, and this car wasn’t one of Mercedes better efforts. But I am still proud of this.

  13. I didn’t see any forecast of how much “climate change/global warming” will be averted by the lower speed limits. Anyone?

  14. “Bremen already had speed limits on most highways to limit congestion and noise.”

    This is an example of Green anti-logic. If you lower speed limits then you increase the amount of time cars spend on the roads, which increases congestion. Nanny state here we come 🙁

  15. “A German government committee proposed fuel tax hikes, electric vehicle quotas and lower speed limits to meet European…” Lower speed limits? A tank full of fuel will produce X amount of CO2 regardless of rate it is burned. Lower speed limits is meant to collect more money. Why aren’t the electric vehicle paying something to help road repairs?

    • Yes. In some ways, the existing system could be described as very reasonable by socialist standards: At higher speeds your fuel consumption rises much more than linearly (but the 30% claimed is not credible), so you already pay more in extra fuel taxes if you choose to travel at a higher speed. Seems like a good thing to have that choice, other things being equal.

      (They also claim reduced road deaths from the lower speed limits. That is true, but is really just part of the equation that you can reduce road deaths to ~zero if you reduce speed limits to zero. The only real question is at what speed does reality trump ideology.)

      • Cars have an optimum cruising speed, below that there are few savings from lower speeds. Fuel consumption is mostly determined by acceleration (especially stop/start), much less by friction.

        The danger is that they will put 130 on autobahn, too slow for longer distances because normal cruise speed in DE is about 150/160.
        But biggest danger is that the idiots will then put even lower limits near cities (90, 80), which means too low limits which will certainly increase the chance for traffic jams. We see that all the time near Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, or cities in NRW (Koln for example).
        And the most fuel is consumed in such traffic jams, stop/start, and in cities (traffic lights).

  16. Communists hate everything nice, and every expression of free people.
    I’m not sure what could happen in Germany if they really made this.
    No limits autobahn are the demonstration that every single common assertion on speed limits in motorways is, simply, totally wrong.
    They become literally mad for this demonstration, and so they want to destroy this every time, since years and years.
    Germany car industry is the result of the no limits motorways.
    Italy, for example, started destroying its car industry in the 70s, when useless limits were introduced, for fuel consumption reasons. But the whole country started to decline, following stupid leftist ideas.
    Before that in Italy probably there was a luxury car industry better than in Germany, that of course spent many years to recover from wwii.
    More or less the same happened in the US: “nice” car are basicly until that period.
    I think a real riot, worse than what seen in France, could be the only correct answer for this in Germany.
    Remember also that Merkel comes from DDR, and I don’t know if western Germany could accept such a thing from her.
    This global warming fake story is the worst idea humans have ever created: an instrument to control every aspect of people’s life, to completely destroy freedom, to create real socialism.
    This must come to an end.

  17. German auto industry progressed because the country had the opportunity to safely use cars at high speeds on a daily basis.

    Without this incentive, Germany will most probably degrade it’s automobile standards and loose a significant number of jobs.

    We often use France, where speed limits have always existed to compare how freedom leads to quality.

    All is made to force the introduction of electric vehicles.

    A typical unnamed midsize electric with a 60kWh battery car will consume about 280 Wh per km when driven at 60 km/h.

    The putative range with a supposed 100% efficiency, all other consumers off, could be as much as 214km.

    Which sets the power equilibrium between drag and forward force at about 17kW.

    At 120 km/h, with supposed aerodynamic resistance increase only, this same vehicle would require 2 * 2 power 2, that is about 8 times more power, an interesting 136kW.

    Which leads to an energy consumption of 1133Wh per kilometer, logically 4 times the energy requirement at 60 km/h.

    The midsize car in question and it’s 60kWh battery capacity would have a putative range of 52km only when driven at a sustained speed of 120km/h with a theoretical but never achieved in practice global efficiency of 100%.

    And of course no heating, lights, music, AC.

    That’s why they try IMHO to level everything to the low(est) conceivable speed limit.

    Electric battery only cars would be totally unusable on high speed roads. That’s why, despite claimed acceleration and top speed, not many electric cars are seen on the autobahn’s.

    • Flight Level

      Agreed. Manufacturers quote the operating range of electric vehicles under their optimum conditions. Say, 50mph steady, probably with everything switched off. Exceed that even to 70mph and watch the range tumble.

      • It’s worse that that dear HotScot.

        Here’s my first hand experience. A home was for sale, up in a small mountain village with a 40km leg of curvy steep road before the highway.

        Taught a Leaf would be the most financially opportunistic and taxwise optimal purchase for commuting. The announced range would fit with a recharge while at the job.

        The dealer categorically refused a test. Became quite obnoxious in the process.

        Happens, Nissan and Renault specify their ranges in the following conditions:
        -Flat dry road
        -Zero winds, 20 degrees Celsius
        -1 person and no luggage in the car
        -All windows closed
        -No extra drain such as heating, lights, AC, music
        -Steady speed of 23 km/h

        Yes you read it right, steady speed of 23 km/h ! But why ?

        Happens some norm allows for as this would be the average speed in a crowded city.

        Reasons that dealer finally disclosed when I threatened with consumer laws.

        Happens, we didn’t buy that home, case implicitly closed.

  18. “French officials also touted lower speed limits as a way to reduce pollution and fight global warming by cutting auto emissions 30 percent.”

    Thirty percent?
    lol. In their wet green dreams.

    ” Drivers were not happy.”

    Reality won’t be very impressed, either.

  19. Along with the specious fuel-saving mantra of the 70’s, there was the notion that “55 Saves Lives.” However, Road and Track carried an article around that time which showed that the highway death rate in the US increased after the imposition of the 55 mph speed limit.

    It was predictable. When speed limits were initially imposed, it was as a result of empirical measurement. Traffic would be monitored and the speed distribution tallied. Speed limits were set 5 mph below the 90th percentile upper speed driver on a given road. The speed distribution about that speed limit tended to be very tight.

    When the same roads had speed limits reduced to an arbitrary 55 mph, the difference in maximum and minimum speeds varied enormously. Good drivers went at the speed the road would handle. Submissive drivers went the speed limit. Collisions were thus largely fatal (70 mph vs 55 mph). I remember when KFI 640 morning host Bill Handel commented on the lifting of the 55 mph speed limit, saying that it would result in carnage. It did no such thing. He’s funny, but an idiot in many respects.

    As for energy usage, it makes no difference whatsoever.

    I’m just glad I had a chance to drive the Autobahn system before this nonsense emerged. It was the best driving experience of my life (and I lived in Southern California for 28 years).

  20. Interesting comments on different vehicles. I guess my favorite was a supercharged Suzuki GSXR 750 motorcycle. Acceleration bordered on warp drive, even at 160mph. Triple digit wheelies were the rule, rather than the exception, rear tire life was short.
    The biggest problem with it, nobody would ride with you!

    • I rode gsxr1100 (with the 1150 eng) that was valved and geared for track. topped out around 165 but got there quickly.
      rode zx1100 with muzzi stage 4 kit. had to 178 before ran out of road.
      this is mph not kph

  21. I would venture a guess that if the Bundestag moves to drop the Autobahn speed limits, they may be surprised to find that German drivers also have yellow vests in their trunks.

    • The german attitude is rather phlegmatic on such protests.
      Germans are more subserviant to open protests like the French or other people do.
      I haven’t seen such protests for a loooong time here in Germany.
      Unfortunately!

  22. Usual bunch of loonies at work.
    They don’t get it do they?

    The main reason why so much progress has been made on engine efficiency is PRECISELY because of German’s lack of speed limits, + great incentives to improve drag coefficients at high speeds despite the much larger increase in vehicle weights.
    France has no such luck, so they pushed CR diesel cars until NOx emissions went through the roof.
    Wow, – that was intelligent!

    A low speed limit repression policy released plenty of police to do other more useful things & put German vehicle engineering at a global pinnacle of technology particularly for petrol engines.
    It’s no accident the average high tech German car uses as much fuel per km at 200km/h as its equivalent non aerodynamic low tech car from 1980 at 110km/h.

    If people REALLY wanted to have lower fuel consumption as a target then all they have to mandate is a 30% DECREASE in weight, and mandating more than one person in a car (ie. covoiturage/car sharing like blablacar).
    Both those measures would bring a quantum leap improvement in traffic management and fuel bills.
    It’s sitting in traffic jams that reduces engine fuel efficiency to near 100% loss, and wastes 100s of man hours per year, not speed.

    The greens have been on and on about speed limits for decades, while doing nothing about jams.
    They got their way in France, the kings of hypocrisy, where they got 80km/h & increased taxes via speed cameras and higher fuel prices.
    Nothing was done to lower public transport costs or to invest in alternatives.

    We can only hope that Germany keeps common sense and ignores the b-sh.t
    So far that was done by the industry.
    I’m not optimistic, as the hatchet has been out for the industry – a major employer for 20 years.

    • I agree with you about having sensible traffic management improvements to reduce fuel consumption. Here in California, the looneys in charge are making things worse, not better, with what they foolishly call “traffic taming”.

      A new development nearby exits onto what was a 4 lane road. For some insane reason, they put a traffic circle at the entrance after shrinking the road to one lane. Add considerable traffic and shrink the road equals instant traffic jam. I sincerely doubt whether the people who “plan” this idiocy are capable of thinking.

      Timed traffic lights would help smooth traffic flow and reduce fuel consumption from stop and go driving. You would think that the green campaigners would demand this. They don’t and you stop at each light – what a waste. Considering that Microsoft’s first income was from a traffic signal timing program, one might expect that this would be everywhere. Sadly, it is the exception rather than the rule.

      This effort in Germany is all about virtue signally.

    • We can only hope that Germany keeps common sense and ignores the b-sh.t

      If the BS is just green enough they’d even devour it with a bright smile and w/o belching.

  23. My personal wheeled speed record of 235kph was set on the autobahn north of Bern. Still havent gone any quicker despite doing occasional track days (short straights, less grunty cars). Sorry to hear it may be consigned to history.

    • Beware Yarpos, I know that region very well. A lot of plainclothes Passat/BMW 3 with what it takes to send you in jail for attempted premeditated murder and have your ride confiscated under the new madness, the ViaSecura set of laws.

  24. Surprised no -one seems to have pointed out the sentence:
    -“If targets aren’t met, Germany could face massive fines”-
    Who has the authority , and the military might , to impose fines on a sovereign nation state ? China? Russia, President Trump?
    Why are so many leaders of the West so abject? It would not be Germany that is paying fines to some mystical supranational power , but the people of Germany. We know Germans are immensely rich by general European standards but surely they do not yield up their income so nonchalantly. They must be a gift to scammers.

      • Thank you Jaap, but that makes the situation more peculiar. I can understand that , if failing climate objectives leads to massive fines, they would want to implement the measures described. But it is generally thought (in UK anyway) that it is the French and Germans who set the rules of the EU. If so , why set up a system that would result in massive fines if they fail?
        Either they have so much money that they simply don’t care or they never expected to fail climate objectives.
        There is another possibility. France, with 95% low carbon power generation via nuclear and hydro know that they will not fail any system , so suckered the Germans into a system that they knew the Germans would fail. Is there not something about a dish best eaten cold?
        (Am I trying to drive a wedge of distrust between France and Germany – definitely)

        • Sometimes EU is similar tu US, sometimes to USSR.
          It’s a strange thing, because really sometimes it defends freedom, free and competitive markets, and so on.
          Other times it forces stupid things, in a totally undemocratic way.
          I think EU needs to change, and an important thing to change is its enviromental policies.
          We are not free anymore to buy a normal incandescent light bulb (because “not efficient” in their head), vacuum cleaner power is limited to 900W, to make a couple of examples.
          No debate about these: they are banned, and stop.

    • About from 50% to 66% of german motorways are without limits.
      Due to variable limits in some parts.
      Being there is really like to move into the free world from ddr.
      Difficult to explain, but it’s a beautiful thing.

  25. I pretty much learned to drive on the autobahn at 18yrs old.
    as an MP I also saw what happens when rules of road not obeyed by idiots.
    best training ever.
    we rented a ferrari one day, 200+ MPH was a rush.
    rode with polezei in supercharged opels too. fast as hell (high geared) on autobahn.
    best training ever.
    prob why I got a few felony speeding tickets after getting back here….
    like 153 in a 25….
    that cost me.

    • This is absolutely stupid p..nis size stuff all over again!
      Why are people so obessed with size and power?

      Chapman had a point.
      He was right about accelerating small weights to high speeds could only done with brains not brawn.
      Removing weight is the most beneficial thing you can do, yet here we have yet again the p..nis enlargement contest.
      It’s a fact since 2005 most production cars have gained bloat worthy of a Microsoft OS.

      500bhp for a German car was supposed to be the ultimate pr…k inflation contest.
      Now it becomes 600bhp, the tyres are huge, the weight enormous, and ego even bigger.
      None of this is going to end well.

      The most impressive cars I ever drive are those the go round corners and brake.
      (I make my living doing that kind of stuff).

      How is that supposed to square with increased power and ever higher weight.
      It’s utter stupidity, and it’s precisely this sort of stuff that “Deutschland uber alles” is promulgating.
      POWER AND SPEED IS BORING, just for the same reasons TOP GEAR became infantile and boring.
      I find the macho-4 exhaust-bling and blast current atmosphere utterly repulsive to the point I get on the side of limiting 4wd drive in cities (MUST BE BANNED), and motorcycles, especially German ones x25 flogging their crap around mountains anywhere but in Germany (REMOVE ALL THEIR LICENCES IF THEY GO OVER 87dBA)!

      I said enough about the stupid sheer waste of throwing 85-95% of every tank of fuel away as waste heat, but there in 2019 we live in an absolutely obsolete life style anyhow!

      • I think you are boring. Transports and technologies evolve.
        We have fast trains, we have cheap flights for everywhere, speed is fundamental for everything in our lives, but on car we must move at ridicolous speeds, slower than 50 years ago, with cars that look like starships when compared to those years. Germany demostrates no real safety issue.
        It makes no sense.
        The only sense is to force every person in a Trabant, like they used to do in DDR.
        Why don’t they charge taxes on plane flights instead?
        Because planes are anyway public transport, and so they are “good”?
        Freedom is sacred, and it must be defended.

        • Well said, dmacleo. The left/green illiberals always find ways to restrict others, just because they don’t like their habits. If it concerns their own interests, suddenly there are no restrictions at all. Take a look at the german landscape. Completely destroyed by windmills which can be built everywhere without any problems. Building new roads takes years for planning and end up blocked forever because that road might have touched the path of a green-yellow-striped-tail- frog from Kasachstan that somebody saw there some 20 years ago.

  26. When Germans are in the mood to start a revolution in the RR station, the very first thing they’ll do is to buy platform tickets. Gilets jaunes in Germany? Nevah evah.

  27. “The German committee’s draft proposal suggests “a motorway speed limit of 130 kmh [about 80 miles per and fuel tax hikes from 2023, the abolition of tax breaks for diesel cars and quotas for electric and hybrid car sales could deliver half the greenhouse gas emissions cuts that are needed,” according to an outline seen by Reuters.”

    I am always amazed at the complete lack of any logical thought from these Eco-Nazis.

    Reduced speed limits may get some fuel savings from aerodynamic drag, but increased congestion from vehicles occupying the available road space for a longer period to go the same distance is likely to cancel that “savings.”

    Abolition of tax breaks for diesel powered cars won’t affect emissions of those already on the road, which many will probably be for a decade or more. And anyone with common sense will still favor fossil fuel powered vehicles over EVs, given the inadequate range (not to mention its gross exaggeration – see the information about Nissan/Renault’s “conditions” for calculating EV range above).

    And the crown of stupidity, the “quotas for electric and hybrid cars” will increase the amount of the transport energy mix coming from electricity, which, being generated mostly by coal, will probably mean a net INCREASE in CO2 emissions compared with gasoline or diesel fuel.

    Dummkopfs!

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