Proposals from a government-appointed committee to impose a 130 kph speed limit on Germany's autobahn network were recently leaked to the media. That has resulted in a debate in the country where the term "Freie Fahrt für freie Bürger" (unrestricted driving for free citizens) has been used since the 1970s to describe drivers' freedom to traverse the network at any speed.
Unrestricted speed limits are strongly endorsed by the country's automobile industry, known worldwide for building fast and powerful cars. The leaked proposals are part of a report on the future of German mobility which is due out in March. Along with the speed limit on autobahns, it includes increases in fuel taxes and an end to tax breaks on diesel cars.
As the following infographic shows, approximately 30 percent of the autobahn already has a speed limit. Out of the sections where limits are imposed, 4.7 percent is 130 kph, 7.8 percent is 120 kph and 5.6 percent is 100 kph. The debate about extending those limits isn't an easy one with both ministers and the public forced to choose between cutting greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the country's automobile industry. At the weekend, a survey published by the Bild am Sonntag newspaper found that 52 percent of the German public favours a speed limit of between 120 and 140 kph.
This chart provides a breakdown of speed limits on stretches of autobahn with no roadworks.
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