Speed limits could be restricted to 81 mph.
The German autobahn is famous for its lack of speed limits. In unrestricted sections, it's legal to plant your foot to the floor and drive as fast as you dare without being penalized with a speeding ticket or driving ban. There aren't many places in the world that give you the freedom to max out a Ferrari 812 Superfast at over 200 mph on a public highway.
Unsurprisingly, these unrestricted sections have caused controversy over the years. Back in 2019, the German government was considering imposing speed limits on every section of the famous highway to spoil everyone's fun, but no limits were actioned. Now, discussions about autobahn speed limits have reignited once again during the recent federal elections.
As reported by Deutsche Welle, the Social Democrat (SPD) party, which narrowly won the election over the Free Democrat party to form a new government, is proposing a nationwide speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph). The party argues that enforcing a speed limit on the autobahn could lower Germany's CO2 emissions by two million tons per year and improve safety by reducing the number of accidents. Following the election, the SPD is expected to form a coalition with the Green party.
No autobahn speed limits were altered the last time this happened when the SPD was in power between 1998 and 2005, but it might be different this time around. The Green party also wants to add a 30 km/h (19 mph) limit in cities and 80 km/h (50 mph) on country roads. As of last month, most roads in Paris are also restricted to a snail's pace at 19 mph.
The topic sparked furious debate during the elections as the Free Democrats (FDP) were not in favor of introducing a speed limit to Germany's famous highway. ADAC, the country's local motoring association, also used to oppose autobahn speed limits as accidents and deaths were no higher than countries like Belgium, France, and the US, which feature highways that have a speed limit. However, 50% of the ADAC's 21 million members now support limits, while 45% want to keep the autobahn unrestricted. The remaining 5% are undecided.
Stefan Bratzel, Center of Automotive Management, doesn't think it's a huge issue, arguing that upcoming electric car drivers are less likely to drive at high speed on the autobahn anyway. “Drivers of electric cars usually move at about 120 to 130 kilometers per hour [75-80 mph], no faster, because otherwise, the battery range decreases considerably,” he said. We'll be following this, as we'd like one last jaunt before the whole highway is restricted.