For decades the ADAC was strictly against it, now the automobile club has softened its negative attitude towards a speed limit on highways. ADAC was "no longer fundamentally" against a speed limit, said ADAC Vice President for Transport, Gerhard Hillebrand, before the 58th traffic judges' meeting in Goslar (29 to 31 January). With a good 21 million members, the ADAC is the largest automobile club in Germany.
"The discussion about the introduction of a general speed limit on motorways is emotionally conducted and polarized among the members," said Hillebrand. "That is why the ADAC is currently not stipulating the question." In a poll among members, 50 percent voted against a speed limit and 45 percent voted for it. Objectification is urgently needed. The effects of a speed limit should be urgently clarified in a comprehensive study. "This would provide a reliable basis for decision-making." The GdP police union had recently suggested such an examination.
"A homogeneous speed and thus a steady flow of traffic tends to result in fewer acceleration and braking maneuvers," said the head of accident research at German insurers, Siegfried Brockmann. However, there was a lack of reliable data for the assumption that a general speed limit would actually result in fewer fatalities. This can only be clarified by a large-scale scientific experiment, said Brockmann.
In a recent survey by the Forsa Institute on behalf of the Working Group on Traffic Law of the German Lawyers' Association, the majority are in favor of a speed limit. 56 percent of the 1,000 license holders surveyed see a general speed limit as an effective measure for more traffic safety.
Julia Fohmann from the German Road Safety Council (DVR) referred to other countries in Europe. Anyone who travels on motorways in France, Austria or Belgium will experience more serenity than here. It can be assumed that the speed limits there contribute to this. As soon as you get back on German motorways, the difference is noticeable, said Sören Heinze, spokesman for the Auto Club Europa ACE. Germany's motorways are much more aggressive. "With a speed limit, the number of accidents, injured and killed people decreases," said Heinze. "There are also positive effects on the flow of traffic. And a speed limit also makes a contribution to climate protection." The ACE general assembly recently voted for 130 km / h.
13,000 kilometers of highways
Unlike ADAC and ACE, the German Automobile Club (AvD) is still strictly against a speed limit. Motorways are the safest road category, said spokesman Herbert Engelmohr. In addition, the 13,000 kilometers of motorways made up only two percent of the German road network. Around 3,900 kilometers of it have already been set for a speed limit. "It does not seem plausible to the AvD that the introduction of a general speed limit on such a small part of the road network should have a relevant effect on CO2 emissions and thus on climate protection." Drivers should still be allowed to drive at a higher speed on a free highway in good weather conditions.
The demand for the speed limit had brought the SPD back into the political discussion. First, the new party leaders Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans demanded a speed limit of 130 kilometers an hour at a party conference in early December. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) later joined. "Common sense" speaks for a speed limit, said Schulze. Consumer advocates and the Greens also support the Social Democrats' push. CSU Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer rejects the speed limit, there are different voices in the CDU.
The majority of motorways in Germany are still free to drive. 70 percent of the motorway network is without a binding speed limit. There are permanent or intermittent restrictions with signs on 20.8 percent of the network, as current data from the Federal Highway Research Institute shows five years ago. There are also variable traffic control displays.