The autobahns of Germany

“Autobahn, Kamener Kreuz, Rush Hour” by dirkvorderstrasse is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Almost all car enthusiasts in the world have a dream to drive their vehicles at a high speed on the German Autobahns. But what exactly are the Autobahns of Germany? Autobahn or, ‘automobile road’ in German, is a network of high-speed national expressway systems in Germany. They were planned in the 1930s but were later extended to the national highway network of almost 2100 km or about 1300 miles by the end of 1942. After the end of the second world war, the Autobahn received a major reconstruction. And after the German reunification of 1989, the current length stands at more than 12000 km or 7200 miles, making it the third-largest highway system in the world after the USA and China. 

The German Autobahn is widely known in the world for having no federally mandated speed limit, making it a mecca for car enthusiasts. But not everyone knows that there are some exceptions to it. Speed limits are imposed through stretches of Autobahn that are urbanized, have substandard roads, or are accident-prone areas. The maximum speed in those areas is restricted to 81 mph or 130kmph. The whole Autobahn network has a 6% temporary speed limit, due to weather and traffic, and 23% of it has a permanent speed limit(source). While driving at high speeds on the Autobahn will not invite any illegal consequences, but can invite an increased liability in case of an accident.  

Now, several are quick to point that since the Autobahn network has no speed limits, it must be an invitation for disaster. But due to strict road rules and heavy penalties involving traffic violations, German highways are among the safest in the world. Today, Germany is the only country in the world with a speed restriction-free highway. But due to the growing environmental concern over the CO2 release, calls have been made since the 1980s by the Green party in Germany to force a speed limit of 130kmph or 80 mph. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the German Autobahn.

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