It is one of Germany's most controversial questions: should a general speed limit be put in place on the Autobahn network which is famous for having zones with no speed limit restrictions?
Now the Green party has vowed to introduce curbs on speeding as a “first measure” if they get into government after the 2021 elections.
When Green co-party leader Robert Habeck was asked by news portal “The Pioneer” whether the Greens would introduce this a general speed limit he replied: “Yes. at 130”, reported Spiegel on Tuesday.
This initiative would be a dealbreaker for the Greens in a coalition agreement. “This is probably the first measure of a new government, if the Greens are involved,” Habeck said.
He said all that was needed was a change in the law to move to a maximum speed of 130 kilometres per hour.
Habeck said the mood of the country regarding driving had changed in recent years.
There are now more people who want the speed limit, Habeck said. “Even the ADAC (Germany's biggest motoring association) is for it. Who is actually still arguing against it?” he said.
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The coronavirus pandemic has also changed people's view on the issue, he argued. “The accusation that a speed limit is an undue restriction of civil liberty on the Autobahn now somehow sounds even more ridiculous than it already does – now that churches, schools and so on have been closed down,” he said.
Habeck slammed the fact that in Schleswig-Holstein, among other places, there are stretches of road which speeders go to, “in order to drive 250 km/h for 40 kilometers”.
“That's not justifiable,” he said. Everyone should have their hobby, “but not endanger others in order to have fun”.
Why is it controversial?
Germany is a country known for its love of cars and driving – and that passion, many say, is reflected in its freedom to drive fast on parts of its highway.
For lots of people outside Germany, the speed limit-free motorways are a strong part of the country's auto culture and history.
In a survey by The Local, just over 70 percent of readers rejected the idea of imposing a general speed limit on the Autobahn.
However there are growing calls for the move. A speed limit of 130 km/h could save around 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 per year, according to a a study presented by the Federal Environment Agency in February.
Do the Greens have a shot at governing Germany?
Perhaps. In the last two years the Greens have been enjoying a surge in German politics.
But during the coronavirus crisis Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats have gone up significantly in opinion polls, with one survey showing the Union (CDU/CSU) would get 40 percent of the vote if an election was held.
That poll suggested the Greens are the second most popular party in Germany with 19 percent of the vote, ahead of the Social Democrats with 15 percent.
It remains to be seen how the pandemic will affect the behaviour of voters when the country goes to the polls next year.