The looming German election has ignited debate about enforcing a 115km/hr speed limit on the infamous autobahn. While many Germans see the freedom of travelling down the autobahn at 200km/hr as a cultural right, one politician is putting safety ahead of speed.
According to Social Democratic Party chairman Sigmar Gabriel, traffic deaths, which have been falling for years, would drop faster with a speed limit. ''The rest of the world has been doing it for a long time, '' he says. His controversial proposal has not been accepted by senior members of his party yet Social Democrats and Greens have supported the move.
On 60% of Germany's autobahns there are no speed limits, while in areas where traffic is heavier or near cities the speed limit sits between 95km/hr to 115km/hr. Speed limit supporters not only advocate the road safety benefits of the proposal, they also support the environmental benefits of driving more slowly as this lowers emissions.
For every billion miles driven on German roads, nine people were killed in accidents in 2011, the same as in Australia. That compares with 10.9 in the US and 6.3 in Britain.