Majority of public back Autobahn speed limit

Majority of public back Autobahn speed limit
File photo: DPA
A new survey published on Thursday shows that a majority of Germans are in favour of speed limits on the Autobahn – the country's highways which until now have been famously limit-free.

The number of countries with no nationwide speed limit on highways is vanishingly small. Other members of the club besides Germany include Afghanistan, North Korea, and the Isle of Man, a British dependency in the Irish sea.

Now pollsters from YouGov have found that 56 percent of the public would be in favour of a nationwide speed limit of 150 km/h on Germany's 12,950 kilometres of motorway – but that lower limits were still out of the question.

Just 40 percent would support a limit of 130 kmh/h – the same as France – while a tiny 11 percent would be OK with national limits of 100 km/h, just under the British national limit of 70 mph (112 km/h).

Across the Autobahn network, many stretches already have a speed limit – and there's a 'suggested' speed of 130 km/h across the network.

Police patrols may also pull over the especially speedy if they're driving too fast for the conditions.

Motorists say it's a no-go

But motorists' organization ADAC rejects the idea of a nationwide limit.

“In our opinion, we don't think it would be safer,” ADAC spokesman Andreas Hölzel told The Local.

“If you look at international comparisons, Germany – with no generalized speed limit – performs just as well on safety.

“Britain is a bit better, but France, Belgium, the USA and Japan all have worse accident rates.”

In fact, the YouGov results showed that only 48 percent of the general public believed that a speed limit would make the Autobahn safer.

Under a road safety programme launched by the federal government in 2011, the number of people killed on the Autobahn fell 17 percent by 2014 to 375.

Conditional speed limits

Hölzel said that an annual survey of ADAC'S 19 million members consistently showed a majority against national speed limits, with 65 percent saying they were against the idea in last year's poll.

He added that “we're not against having any speed limits at all, but we're against one that covers the whole country.

Cars driving through fog on the A7 Autobahn near Rendsburg, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

“They can make sense under certain conditions, like when there's snow or fog, [or] when there's large volumes of traffic.”

Older people want to go slow

YouGov pointed out that older drivers were much more likely to be in favour of one of the lower speed limit options.

An older driver climbs into his vehicle. File photo: DPA

Half of over-55s said that they would support a 130 km/h nationwide limit, compared with just over a third of 18- to 24-year-olds.

The YouGov poll covered a representative sample of 1,198 people in Germany, who were interviewed between October 9th and 13th 2015.

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