Germany’s “Autobahn” has always been alluring to me. The idea of being able to drive as fast as I want on the highway seems incredible, especially with how low speed limits in the U.S. and most other parts of Europe are.
When I was in Switzerland recently, locals informed me that they would take trips up to Germany for the sole purpose of racing on the Autobahn, which got me to thinking: Is the Autobahn dangerous?
I have to admit: I’d be more afraid of breaking down on the Autobahn than having an accident there. Can you imagine waiting on the side of a road where people can drive as fast as they want?
Well, not all people. Although drivers of ordinary cars can go as fast as they please on the Autobahn, the German government has imposed some restrictions. Buses carrying standing passengers, for example, can travel at just 60 km/h.
Likewise, speed limits apply at interchanges and construction sites. To make sure you aren’t breaking the law, be on the lookout for any speed signs along the Autobahn, even if you are unlikely to spot one.
Autobahn Accident Statistics
It might surprise you to know that as time passes, the number of people killed on the Autobahn goes down. During the last 20 years in fact, this number has been halved.
Even still it’s a high figure, with 420 people losing their lives on German motorways. More than 40 per cent of these deaths are linked to high speed, which begs the question: Is the lack of a speed limit on the Autobahn really a good thing?
I personally think that if drivers are vigilant it shouldn’t be a problem. But unfortunately, drivers aren’t always vigilant, as we all know well, especially Swiss drivers driving on the Autobahn to race.
Measures To Impose an Autobahn Speed Limit
I’m not alone in questioning the safety of the Autobahn. Over the past 30 years or so, German lawmakers have been debating whether a speed limit should be imposed.
The reasons aren’t just for safety, either. Cars that move faster use more fuel, and Germany has taken a lead in the “green” movement, so it isn’t surprising that many German politicians want to impose a speed limit on the Autobahn.
Unfortunately, Germany’s current government opposes institution a speed limit. So if you’re as thrilled as me by the prospect of a road with no speed limit, get there fast, in case the next government is stricter than this one.