The speed limit on the German autobahn, or rather the lack thereof, has moved to the forefront of political debate this christmas, opening up significant cracks in the coalition Government of Berlin. In the greater part of the German autobahn you can travel at the speed that you want, but the pressures for Germany to cease to be a rarity european get stronger. From the social Democratic Party (SPD), a minority partner in the Executive, ask you to set a maximum speed with the aim of reducing both accidents and pollution emissions. The block conservative who leads the chancellor, Angela Merkel, does not want nor to hear speak of a topic that is considered settled and that causes an intense emotional debate every time that arises in the public sphere.
In part, because talk of the car are words over in Germany, a country whose economy is nourished in good measure of the production of vehicles, and which is also the birthplace of brands such as Porsche, Mercedes, BMW or Audi, they do flag the speed. But beyond economic considerations, the relationship of many germans with their car and the speed is close, in a country that reveres the timeliness and efficiency of moving from one place to another. In addition, the lack of speed limit on the motorways is interpreted often as a maximum expression of individual freedom, which its advocates say is not be willing to cede. In Germany there is no speed limit in nearly 70% of the freeways, which turns the country into a singularity in the european environment, and in general the industrialized countries.
But times change, also in Germany, and the voices calling for a change to listen to these days with renewed strength. The debate threat in addition to with intensify with a view to the transformation that crosses the automobile industry and in particular with the expansion of the electric car and the autonomous cars, which do not carry a driver. Jürgen Resch, director of the environmental organization (DUH) felt this weekend in the press that “without a speed limit, the German industry of the car will collapse”. Like other experts, Resch believes that the high speed on German roads slows down innovation and the testing of autonomous models and digital, “for fear that your left pass triggered a car at 250 kilometers per hour.”
The minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, refused however on the day of Christmas possible limitations to the speed and he defended in a tweet that “the traffic must be as fluid as possible. [...] We want to control the traffic in an intelligent way, digital, and flexible. Without prohibitions.” Scheuer despised a discussion that he considered irrelevant. “We have far more important tasks to bring to the fore again and again on this issue that is so emotional, that does not have a majority,” he told the German agency for news.
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he Was referring Scheuer to the vote in the Bundestag, the Lower House of Parliament, last October, of the proposal of the Green, defending a limit of 130 kilometres per hour and which did not by far the most enough to get ahead. The Greens consider that such action could only have advantages. Less deaths, less pollution and a minimum cost.
But since then, the tables have changed. The SPD chose their new leaders, Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, at the beginning of December in a congress of the party. At that meeting it also approved a text that says that the SPD wants to “introduce a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour on motorways. This would contribute to the safety on the roads, and it is also a measure of environmental protection without cost.” The idea of the SPD is to resurrect in the coming weeks, the proposal of the Green.
Esken has been commissioned to lead the debate in recent days, defending in the media and on social networks the speed limits. “A speed limit on our highways is good for the climate, security and the nerves of the drivers,” he said.
on The sidelines of proposals more or less concrete, the issue of highways has served to leave demonstrates once more the massive differences and lack of harmony between the parties that coexist in the Government. Ulrich Lange, responsible for transport of the CSU, member of bavarian conservatives, found that “the new leaders of the SPD are of course completely out of place. [...] Those who believe a speed limit is generally the most urgent action to stop the flight of voters from the SPD have lost obviously your political compass”. Lange considered that Germany has “the highways safer in the world.”
Being as it is, the penultimate day of the year, a spokesman of the German Government announced that the Executive does not plan to impose a restriction of speed on highways. The matter, defended in Berlin, does not figure in the Government program that sealed conservatives and social democrats in the setting up of the grand coalition.
But the position within the Government is far from being unitary, and the tensions are evident. From the Ministry of Environment, the social democrat, Svenja Schulze advocates the limitation of the speed, because he believes that it is “common sense” and arguing that could lead to a reduction of up to two million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The insurers, meanwhile, have called for a comprehensive study to determine as accurately as possible the extent to which the speed limits on motorways reduce the number of accidents and, if so, to what extent. The police union has asked something similar: “The German Government must commission a scientific report to obtain reliable data on the benefits of limiting the speed,” said Michael Mertens, representative of the grouping of police. Mertens was estimated that reducing the speed to 130 kilometers per hour could reduce accidents with injuries of greater severity. An analysis conducted by the weekly magazine Der Spiegel earlier this year estimated that could be avoided 140 deaths in traffic accidents per year of introoccur, a limit to the speed on highways.
The national Association of Consumers has also joined the debate calling for caps on the speed on motorways similar to those of the rest of european countries. The citizens meanwhile are divided on an issue that connects with national identity. A recent survey of Civey indicated that two-thirds of the German respondents would be in favour of a limitation. The disagreement, according to the poll was, however, in where it needed to be set that limit.Updated Date: 06 January 2020, 16:00