Transport Theory

Germany's Autobahn network may get a speed limit

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The Green Party's victory in Baden-Wuerttemberg may result in a speed limit of 75 mph on Germany's autobahns, as a way to reduce carbon emissions.

Several stretches of Germany's extensive Autobahn network have no speed limit, but with the Green's victory in Baden-Wuerttemberg all that may change.

The Greens, who defeated Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in a regional election, won on a platform that includes imposing a speed limit of 75 mph on the highways -- less than half the top speed of the Porsche -- as way to reduce carbon emissions.

Currently 65 percent of German roads don't have a speed limit, so the goal is fairly ambitious.

“Traffic in Baden-Wuerttemberg contributes around 30 percent to carbon-dioxide emissions,” Winfried Kretschmann, potentially the Greens’ first state premier, said on the party’s website. “It’s clear that the transportation sector has to make a contribution of its own to reduce this gas that’s harmful to the environment.”

The party is also pushing for the development of more fuel-efficient cars, the introduction of city tolls and tax breaks for environmentally friendly cars in the state that’s home to luxury carmakers Porsche SE and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz unit.

Of course, the auto industry isn't happy. Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in a March 2 Stern magazine interview, "The fact that our cars are built for high speeds is an important argument in other countries for buying them. We’re well advised to maintain the Autobahn sections that don’t have a speed limit.”

Merkel's Christian Democrats, who lost in the state, reject blanket speed limits.

Earlier this year, Spain said it would lower highway speed limits, and push for the use of more biofuels, as part of an emergency fuel-saving initiative to offset increasing gas prices caused by the turmoil in Libya.

The new measures will bring down the speed limit in the country to 68 mph from 75 mph.

According to the American Council For An Energy-Efficient Economy, driving 75 mph instead of 65 mph will lower your fuel economy by about 10 percent, and can dramatically increase tailpipe pollution in many vehicles.

Considering these numbers, it only makes sense to drive slowly. Besides, it's much more likely to keep you safer.

Via Bloomberg

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Ami Cholia

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Ami Cholia has written for AltTransport, Inhabitat, The Huffington Post and Sunday Mid Day in India. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure