Autobahn speed limit requires further review, insurers say | News | DW | 30.12.2019
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Autobahn speed limit requires further review, insurers say

The auto insurance industry has called for further scrutiny of proposals for a nationwide speed limit. A government commission has proposed a speed limit, saying it could help reduce Germany's carbon emissions.

The German Insurance Industry Association (GDV) on Monday said the concept of implementing speed limits of Germany's famed autobahns requires further examination.

Authorities need to clarify "whether a speed limit on motorways truly leads to a significant increase in safety, and if so, by how much," Siegfried Brockmann, who heads accident research at GDV, told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

Brockmann noted that a systematic and comprehensive study of the impact of speed limits on Germany's limitless highways has yet to be conducted.

"As far as Germany is concerned, we have a gap," he said, adding that highways were intentionally made to be used at higher speeds.

The German Police Union (GdP) has supported similar studies, with its deputy leader Michael Mertens saying last week that expert opinion should be sought to determine the utility of a speed limit. Earlier this year, he had said that a speed limit would save lives.

German officials are, however, divided over whether to implement the speed limit or not. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has openly denounced the potential implementation of a speed limit, while Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has voiced her support for it, reasoning that a speed limit will boost road safety and environmental health. 

Deputy Government Spokesperson Ulrike Demmer announced on Monday that "The federal government is not currently planning a general speed limit on German highways."

Read more: Germany urged to tackle climate change with speed limits

A road worker holds a 130 km/h sign

A proposal from a government commission proposed a nationwide speed limit of 130 km/h

Need for speed

The topic rose to the forefront of public debate when a government commission proposed restrictions as a way to curb emissions and combat climate change. It suggested that by imposing a speed limit, Germany could significantly reduce air pollution.

But for many inside and outside Germany, the limitless highways are a German staple. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their sister party the Christian Social Union are against a nationwide speed limit while Social Democrats favor one.

Germany is the only country in Europe with no official speed limit on highways. However, there are restrictions on many stretches, especially in and around cities and frequent interruptions due to road work.

Germany's neighbors Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic all impose a 130 km/h (80 mph) limit. In Belgium and Switzerland, it sinks to 120 km/h.

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ls/aw (dpa, AFP)

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