Germany’s transportation minister recently convened a panel to find ways to cut carbon emissions from transportation. One proposal was to force a speed limit.
But according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer quickly dismissed the idea saying that a speed limit was “against all common sense,”
Driven To Drive (Breakneck Speed)
In Germany, 70 percent of highways have no speed limit. There has been a continuing debate on whether to force drivers to slow down with staunch opponents on either side. The automobile industry and its allies in government on one side; and environmentalists and safety advocates on the other. The Handelsblatt newspaper compared the public discussion to Americans’ opposing views on gun control and abortion.
Reuters reports that the latest suggestion for imposing speed limits comes from the National Platform on the Future of Mobility, the National Platform on the Future of Mobility. This government committee is charged with finding ways to reduce carbon emissions from transport.
Their suggestions include a 130-kph [81-speed limit, a hike in the fuel tax, and the ending of tax incentives for diesel cars. However, when asked by NPR to provide further details, the panel declined to answer.
The proposal is supported by the Green party and the national police union. On Friday, chairman Michael Mertens compared his country with neighbouring Austria and estimated that Germany could reduce at least 1 in 4 deaths by imposing a limit on all its roads.
Speed Limit Plan
In the U.S., drivers are legally allowed to drive 200 or 250 km per hour (124 to the speed of 155 mph],” he told Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “To be precise, this is insane. At the present rate, nobody can maintain control of their car in difficult circumstances.”
The German Association of the Automotive Industry said the speed limit plan is “a pure symbolic policy” with no specific environmental or traffic safety benefit. In a statement sent to NPR spokesperson Eckehart Rotter, speed limits only take one per cent of carbon emissions. He suggested that digitizing the flow of traffic and the introduction of electric vehicles could do more for the environment and security.
An anti-speed limit group claims they have collected the signatures of 50,000.
“A speed limitation in Germany is just another nut in an ideology-driven system geared towards one thing to eliminate the automobile in Germany shortly,” the group writes.
Jack Ewing, author of Faster, Higher, Farther the Volkswagen Scandal, said the autobahn culture positively impacts the image of Germany’s auto industry.
“Carmakers will claim that their demanding German drivers are why German automobiles are so great,” said Ewing, who is also a reporter at The New York Times. He states the following: “Their home market is extremely high-demanding in performance and quality. It’s a testing place for Daimler, BMW, and Audi, which helped make their companies successful in the international market.”
In light of recent events like the Volkswagen emissions scandal bringing up the issue of quality of air in urban areas and putting Germany in danger of being penalized for not meeting E.U. goals for greenhouse gas emissions, Germans might be more open to speed limits, despite earlier objections, according to Ewing. In a poll released the previous year in Germany conducted by CosmosDirekt insurance company, most respondents agreed with an increase in speed. The drivers who were the most consistent opponents were the youngest drivers, between 18 and 29.
At present, the proposed changes in transportation exist as an outline. The final version is expected by March.
Annalena Baerbock, co-chairman for the Green party, said: “The U.S. -where there is a limit on speed across all highways has consistently imported luxurious German automobiles for decades.”