BERLIN: Germany may be about to put the brakes on the autobahn.
Lawmakers in the country’s upper house of parliament will vote today on a proposal to introduce a speed limit of 130kph on motorways. The measure is designed to curb emissions and reduce road-accident fatalities.
Opposition from politicians, drivers’ clubs and the auto industry mean the measure is unlikely to pass. However, the fact that politicians are even discussing the demise of the long-cherished right to drive at unlimited speeds shows how important environmental concerns have become.
Germany opened Europe’s first car-only freeway in 1921 and the country prides itself on its high-performance cars that often zip along the autobahn at upwards of 190kph.
The Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the CSU, has been lobbying hard against speed limits. As a result, a bill last year to introduce a nationwide speed limit failed to get enough votes in the lower house of parliament. Bavaria is home to the BMW and Audi brands.
The country already has restrictions on more than 30% of its 13,000km of autobahns. Extending that to all motorways could prove a step too far.