Canada Kicks Ass
Autobahn speed limits: Germany's love of the fast lane

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martin14 @ Wed May 15, 2013 10:02 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22538856

$1:
When German politician Sigmar Gabriel suggested a speed limit on all stretches of the autobahn, there was a collective drawing-in of breath and raising of eyebrows. His party was perceived to have skidded on the slippery road to September's general election.

Why, many wondered, would a politician trying to win votes suddenly come up with a proposal so clearly doomed to lose them?

He might have suggested banning sausages for all the support he got, even from within the Social Democrat Party (SPD) - and he's its chairman.

It was, after all, a former chancellor from the SPD, Gerhard Schroeder, who described the land of BMWs and Porsches as an Autofahrernation - a nation of drivers.

So the proposal to put the brakes on in Germany went down like a flat tyre in the fast lane.

As a commentator in Bild put it: "With his go-it-alone suggestion of a 120km/h speed limit on motorways, Gabriel has confirmed an important judgment on himself: every day, he's good for a newspaper story and some days for two!"

Germans seem to regard it as a basic human right to get into their BMWs (or Mercs or Audis or Porsches) and scorch down the autobahn at warp speed.


You can have your own foot flat to the floor only to be passed by a car which disappears in a blur of speed and go-faster machismo.

Others in the top echelon of the SPD were not amused, particularly as the party has been suffering in the polls against Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic party with the election just over three months away.

Peer Steinbruck, the SPD's candidate for chancellor and the other half of the centre-left party's leadership, said: "I do not think it's sensible to activate and ignite this debate. The issue is not in our programme for which I am answerable."

Bild's headline, by the way, was "Steinbrück pfeift Gabriel zurück" (Steinbruck whistles Gabriel back).

Sigmar Gabriel's argument was that studies show that speed limits decrease serious injuries and deaths from road accidents - as the rest of the world has long accepted.


And it should be said that some stretches of autobahn - like junctions, areas of construction and accident black-spots - do have speed limits. In some built-up areas, there's a speed limit to keep noise down. The authorities have the power to impose restrictions where necessary but it is true there is no general restriction.

On the best estimate, about an eighth of the whole network of 13,000km (8,000 miles) has no speed limit and about a third has a permanent limit, with the bit between coming and going according to need.

What's it like pushing a car to its limits on an autobahn without limits? Three years ago, Automobile magazine did a road test on the A95 between Munich and Garmisch in southern Germany.

"We're in a 480-horse-power Porsche 911 Turbo cabrio, pedal to the metal in fifth - make that sixth - gear," wrote the reporter.

"At this speed, you need four eyes: one for the road directly in front of the car, one to scan the horizon for slower vehicles, one for the mirrors, and one for the instruments. The speedo shows 297km/h... 301...306... 311... 314... 314... 314... That's 195mph.

"On the return run, we'll briefly hit 200mph on the short downhill section near Murnau. This is white-knuckle, eye-wateringly fast. Even though your concentration is sharply focused, a clear picture stabilises for only fractions of a second."

   



bambu @ Wed May 15, 2013 10:35 pm

martin14 martin14:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22538856

$1:
When German politician Sigmar Gabriel suggested a speed limit on all stretches of the autobahn, there was a collective drawing-in of breath and raising of eyebrows. His party was perceived to have skidded on the slippery road to September's general election.

Why, many wondered, would a politician trying to win votes suddenly come up with a proposal so clearly doomed to lose them?



Road safety.
Maybe there have been crashes.

There's some reason he did it.

Maybe 'climate change'...using less fuel...that's popular among many these days.

   



xerxes @ Thu May 16, 2013 5:52 am

There is a reason: he's an idiot who wants to lose his seat.

German roads are quite safe despite their speeds. To get their drivers licenses Germans have to go through much more comprehensive training and testing program than is even possible here.

   



jeff744 @ Thu May 16, 2013 6:12 am

xerxes xerxes:
There is a reason: he's an idiot who wants to lose his seat.

German roads are quite safe despite their speeds. To get their drivers licenses Germans have to go through much more comprehensive training and testing program than is even possible here.

That and the autobahn is designed specifically for those speeds to keep it safe.

   



BartSimpson @ Thu May 16, 2013 8:55 am

The Germans live in such a tightly controlled society that they need the Autobahn as it is just to have an outlet where they can have a moment of transitory freedom. And then they have to go back to their lives where there's regulations for everything from who tall your grass is allowed to be to how you have to sort your recyclables.

I'm thinking Canada could use one of these, too. In the US (for the time being) we can still take our AR-15s to the shooting range (or the elementary school :P ) to get our ya-yas out.

   



DrCaleb @ Thu May 16, 2013 9:04 am

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
I'm thinking Canada could use one of these, too.


I've driven these speeds on a track, and there is no way with our driving ability and the toll our weather takes on the roads that this would ever be a good idea. One patch of rocks on the side of the road, one misplaced pothole or heaving from ground frost and you'd have a car full of organ donors.

We see the outrage when people are going slightly over the limit and not knowing how to control their vehicles and they cause horrific accidents. Having it happen regularly wouldn't last long.

   



Unsound @ Thu May 16, 2013 9:50 am

I agree that unlimited sppeds wouldn't work here. The cars, road, and drivers are all inadequate for that.

I do think that some highways could easily be bumped up to 130 or so.

   



andyt @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:00 am

I found driving the Autobahn quite relaxing in one way, as you never look at your speedometer, just drive according to conditions and how you feel like driving. Thing is they're so congested that often you can't go as fast as you want, and you get into these packs that are all going hell bent for leather sitting on each others bumpers, giving each other the "light horn". Move into the slow lane and it's death - way too slow. They may be well trained drivers, but they're not observing the 2 second rule, so when they have a crash, it's a good one.

   



BartSimpson @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:00 am

DrCaleb DrCaleb:
BartSimpson BartSimpson:
I'm thinking Canada could use one of these, too.


I've driven these speeds on a track, and there is no way with our driving ability and the toll our weather takes on the roads that this would ever be a good idea. One patch of rocks on the side of the road, one misplaced pothole or heaving from ground frost and you'd have a car full of organ donors.

We see the outrage when people are going slightly over the limit and not knowing how to control their vehicles and they cause horrific accidents. Having it happen regularly wouldn't last long.


Looks like you folks need to insist that your petrol taxes start paying for your roads instead of just getting squandered in the general fund.

US 50 between Fallon, NV and Austin, NV is a rural and well maintained road and I've had the S80 out there a few times and been up to 130mph + and it's safe and smooth. And you folks pay a boatload more fuel taxes than we do.

Seems to me you're getting ripped off. :idea:

   



xerxes @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:16 am

Depends. I remember the last time I drove through Kansas. It has lower income per capita in the us but had the best highways I e even driven on.

   



xerxes @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:17 am

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
The Germans live in such a tightly controlled society that they need the Autobahn as it is just to have an outlet where they can have a moment of transitory freedom. And then they have to go back to their lives where there's regulations for everything from who tall your grass is allowed to be to how you have to sort your recyclables.

I'm thinking Canada could use one of these, too. In the US (for the time being) we can still take our AR-15s to the shooting range (or the elementary school :P ) to get our ya-yas out.


I'd still live there. If I could get a job that is.

   



BartSimpson @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:20 am

xerxes xerxes:
I'd still live there. If I could get a job that is.


You're from Germany? Where? My wife's family is from Heidleberg and she's got cousins who live there. We're looking at visiting next year.

I'm a big fan of the girls who sunbathe along the Neckar in the summertime. 8)

   



peck420 @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:21 am

DrCaleb DrCaleb:
I've driven these speeds on a track, and there is no way with our driving ability and the toll our weather takes on the roads that this would ever be a good idea. One patch of rocks on the side of the road, one misplaced pothole or heaving from ground frost and you'd have a car full of organ donors.

We see the outrage when people are going slightly over the limit and not knowing how to control their vehicles and they cause horrific accidents. Having it happen regularly wouldn't last long.


We have the ability, just not the political will, to build an autobahn style highway in Canada. We can build roads that are, for all realistic timetables, impervious to the elements. Granted, they cost a fortune, upfront, but the lifetime costs are significantly lower then standard roadwork. Expect to see them start to appear, now that most government purchasing departments have to analyse lifetime costs as equal to upfront costs.

As for drivers...well, we would have plenty of time to retrain them...the superior roadworks, mentioned above, would take a long, long time to lay down.

   



PublicAnimalNo9 @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:24 am

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
DrCaleb DrCaleb:
BartSimpson BartSimpson:
I'm thinking Canada could use one of these, too.


I've driven these speeds on a track, and there is no way with our driving ability and the toll our weather takes on the roads that this would ever be a good idea. One patch of rocks on the side of the road, one misplaced pothole or heaving from ground frost and you'd have a car full of organ donors.

We see the outrage when people are going slightly over the limit and not knowing how to control their vehicles and they cause horrific accidents. Having it happen regularly wouldn't last long.


Looks like you folks need to insist that your petrol taxes start paying for your roads instead of just getting squandered in the general fund.

US 50 between Fallon, NV and Austin, NV is a rural and well maintained road and I've had the S80 out there a few times and been up to 130mph + and it's safe and smooth. And you folks pay a boatload more fuel taxes than we do.

Seems to me you're getting ripped off. :idea:

You uh, you normally have frost and winter road problems in NV do ya?

   



xerxes @ Thu May 16, 2013 10:25 am

BartSimpson BartSimpson:
xerxes xerxes:
I'd still live there. If I could get a job that is.


You're from Germany? Where? My wife's family is from Heidleberg and she's got cousins who live there. We're looking at visiting next year.

I'm a big fan of the girls who sunbathe along the Neckar in the summertime. 8)


Not quite. Poor grammar as usual. My family is from there and I've gone there on vacation a few times. My family is largely from Westphalia.

But I love it there. The scenery is gorgeous, I love the architecture, and like you alluded to, the girls are hot and not too many German guys are so it's more of a level playing field for me.

   



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