Germany Struggles With the Decision to End Unlimited Speed Sanctions

There are many unique characteristics to the nation of Germany. One of the more prominent features in Germany is the Autobahn, namely its unlimited section. It is here that there is no speed limit, and drivers can fully test how fast their cars can go. This, of course, raises numerous questions about car safety. There has been increasing debate about the lack of speed limits on the Autobahn highway, thanks to one driver maxing his sports car at 259 mph. 

You can drive pretty fast in Germany

A time-lapse of highway rush hour traffic in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rottweil, Germany
A time-lapse of highway traffic in Germany | Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Autobahn is best known for the sections that have unrestricted speed limits. You can drive as fast as you want in these sections. However, not the entire Autobahn is without a speed limit. This may seem confusing, but this did not happen without a lot of consideration from the government. 

One of the reasons fast speed limits are allowed is the strict guidelines for getting a driver’s license. Only the absolute best and well-disciplined drivers are on the road. According to Business Insider, obtaining your driver’s license in Germany can take up to six months and cost more than $2,000. Some requirements for the license are first-aid training and extensive driving lessons. These driving lessons include real-life experience on the Autobahn. There is also a difficult multiple-choice test and a road test. It stands to reason that better-prepared drivers lead to fewer accidents. 

The Autobahn can allow such high speeds because Germany keeps their high-quality roads well-maintained. For example, the Autobahn is built with a freeze-resistant concrete mix for the long winter months. The Autobahn is inspected regularly, and sections are replaced as necessary. The cars in Germany are often inspected to ensure safety, and many seemingly minor traffic violations are heavily regulated. 

There are renewed debates on speed limits in Germany 

According to Jalopnik, the Green Party in Germany is calling for an 80 mph (130 kph) speed limit across all sections of the Autobahn. There are thousands of miles on the Autobahn. This was mainly brought to the forefront because of environmental concerns. Establishing speed limits will stop cars from using so much fuel needed to go at such high speeds. While everyone talks about the derestricted parts of the Autobahn, those parts only constitute about 70% of the highway. The rest of the Autobahn has a speed limit of 62 mph (100 kph). It is still unclear how successful this push for more restricted speed limits will be. The conversation was ditched during the formation of the new coalition of government. 

A Bugatti driver hit 259 mph on the Autobahn 

While the environment is a significant concern, the speed limits on Germany’s Autobahn are being debated because of the recent stunt when a Bugatti Chiron driver reached 259 mph on a stretch between Berlin and Hannover. The driver of the Bugatti Chiron was a Czech millionaire, Radim Passer. He posted his insanely fast drive on Youtube and gained over 10 million views.

While the Autobahn is known for having unrestricted speed limits in sections, the German Transport Ministry still strongly criticized Passer’s behavior. The ministry stated that it “rejects any behavior in road traffic that leads or can lead to endangering other road users.”  They also cited “anyone participating in traffic must behave in such a way that no other person is harmed, endangered, or obstructed or inconvenienced more than is unavoidable under the circumstances,” and that the law requires drivers “only drive so fast that the vehicle is constantly under control.” 

Passer claims that at least someone was in control of the car at all times and that safety was a top concern of his. The circumstances may have been suitable for his drive, but he did pass several other vehicles that were going well below 250 mph, putting those drivers and potential passengers at risk. Passer’s stunt could get him two years in jail, which has sparked debates about the derestricted zones. You can technically drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn for now, but that privilege may not last for long. 

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