Last month, a commission appointed by the German government floated the idea of a national speed limit on the autobahn. It not only sank like a stone but nearly caused rioting. The far-right opposition raged against the “stranglehold” of the state, and the transport minister, contradicting his own experts, declared the notion “contrary to every common sense” and shelved it.
With few exceptions, there are highway speed limits everywhere. But Germany, birthplace of the car, has a quasi-religious need for unbridled speed.
By the numbers: A limit of 120 kilometers an hour, or 75 miles per hour, would significantly reduce carbon emissions, environmental experts say, and at no cost. In 2017, 409 people died on the autobahn, almost half because of inappropriate speeding, according to the German statistics office. But that hasn’t swayed public opinion in a highly regulated society where the autobahn is the one place not rife with rules.
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