Autobahns-The high speed highways of Germany


When our ex prime minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee set up the Golden Quadrilateral project of connecting the major cities and widening the existing highway networks of India, he might have surely taken a cue from the well established German high speed highways , popularly known as the Autobahns. Auto-meaning vehicle/car and Bahn – meaning the pathway/road in German language.

Autobahns of Germany are special in their own sense and Germany has perfected the road transportation system with its extensive network of Autobahns. More than just being the flawless and smooth driving roads that connect the major cities of Germany, Autobahns are more known for their amazing driving experience. Some of the main features of an Autobahn that make them special are as follows.
-> An autobahn is a 2 lane or a 3 lane highway but is built in such a way that cars and vehicles can travel at very high speeds even on curves and turnings. Most of the autobahns are designed in such a way that the road has a very long curvature when there is a turn , thus enabling a drive at vey high speeds even if one is taking a turn .
->Autobahns are free of signals and are sealed off from the main stream towns or traffic. There are no U turns or by lanes which cross an autobahn when compared to the numerous crossroads that criss cross Indian highways. One has to exit an autobahn and only then take a U turn .This enables a free flow of traffic.
->Autobahns usually do not change in altitude with uneven terrains, implying that if there is an uneven terrain consisting of low ups and downs (small hillocks or depths), the autobahn would more or less stay at the same height. One wond feel any ups and downs while travelling on the autobahn as any low depth terrain is usually bypassed by building bridges or introducing a smooth shift in the height of the road.
->Rules of driving on the Autobahn are strict . The fast lanes are only for overtaking and high speed driving .One is not supposed to drive at low speeds while staying on the fast lane. The minimum expected speed on the autobahn is 80km/hr, which is high when one compares it with Indian highways.Stopping on the autobahn is usually illegal unless the car really breaks down. Stopping on an autobahn because of an empty tank is an offense and attracts heavy fines.
-> An autobahn usually has slower vehicles plying at around 120-140km/hr and faster vehicles even touching top speeds of 220km/hr. And if it is a super car like a porsche or an Amg, you can see them whizzing at 250-300 km/hr on straight stretches.
->The only time one may find bottlenecks on an autobahn is when there is an accident wherein traffic diversions and stopping is necessary for emergency services to reach. But inspite of such high speed driving on the Autobahns, accidents are rare when compared to the numerous accidents that occur on the Indian roads.

While India is on the growth path of widening its existing highways, a lot more needs to be improved in terms of inculcating safety rules and driving behaviour awareness on the highways. A three lane Golden quadrilateral is certainly the pride of our India but we need to see as to how we ensure smooth driving and safe systems on our highways.

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