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The German Autobahn is under threat

By General Posts

By Cameron Kirby from https://www.whichcar.com.au

The last bastion of high-speed driving freedom could soon be outlawed

There is a new plan to kill the Autobahn as we know and love it.

If a minority party in Germany’s federal parliament has its way, a new national 130km/h limit could replace the unrestricted sections of the Autobahn.

Currently there are 5353km of Autobahn which have the ‘unrestricted’ advisory speed limit.

The Alliance90/The Greens political party, often referred to simply as The Greens, is behind the move, and is pushing the lowering of limits as part of a package of new measures intended to reduce emissions.

“A speed limit would be a commandment of reason for an enlightened society in the 21st century,” said Green politician Cem Özdemir.

It’s claimed that enforcing a 130km/h limit would lower Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions by between one and three million tonnes per year. In 2018, Germany produced 725.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Lowering speed limits to 130km/h on the autobahn is supported by the German police union, with the head of the federal trade union Michael Mertens stating: “For us, a speed limit for transport policy reasons is urgently needed”.

A vote on the proposition will be held in Germany’s national parliament, the Bundestag, on October 13.

The federal parliament has 709 seats, with the joint Union alliance, made up of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU), and Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), holding a majority with 398 members. The Greens hold 67 of the 311 seats in opposition.

The Union has previously defended the unrestricted speed limits on the Autobahn, including when they were attacked earlier this year.

In January a leaked report from a government-appointed committee called the National Platform on the Future of Mobility suggested capping speed limits nationally at 130km/h.

The committee’s edict was to look into how Germany could better fall into line with European Union emission targets.

Germany still has 7640km of motorway with speed limits, and the national transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, claimed that adding limits to the remaining unrestricted sections of motorway would struggle to reduce Germany’s national emissions by 0.5 percent, adding that the push “goes against all common sense.”

“Whoever wants to drive 120 can drive 120, and those who want to go faster can do that too,” he told Bild am Sonntag. “Why this constant micromanagement?”

Measurements in 2006 in the German state of Brandenburg showed that the average speed on a six-lane section of the autobahn, in free-flowing conditions, was 142km/h.

If the new plan to kill the Autobahn’s unrestricted speed limits is successful, it would see the end of unrestricted highways globally.

The Isle of Man would stand alone as the remaining jurisdiction in a developed country with no speed limits, with the self-governing British Crown dependency’s 1107km of paved rural roads often having no posted limit.

The IIHS: When a New Study is Not New and Not a Study

By General Posts

By Gary Biller, NMA President

Every two or three years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) splashes the media with a recycled report of how many deaths have occurred due to raised speed limits. And reporters dutifully echo it as gospel because sensational headlines like, “Speed limit increases are tied to 37,000 deaths over 25 years,” grab attention and generate views.

That is the current press release title from IIHS for a just-issued report that is a rehash of a similar effort from 2016. The claim from the insurance industry advocacy group made back then, with uncanny precision for a methodology based almost entirely on assumption and extrapolation, was that 32,894 people died from higher speed limits since the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was repealed. This skeptical review of that IIHS claim three years ago could serve just as well in critiquing the 2019 IIHS repeat of the “speed kills” mantra.

Perhaps my favorite quote in the current reporting of the IIHS release is this from Axiom’s “Slow the hell down:”

“ ’Every time you raise speed limits, you see more deaths,’ said IIHS vice president for research and statistical services Charles Farmer.”

It isn’t necessary to stretch our advocacy muscles even a tiny bit to show this as provably false. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia publishes annual highway fatalities rates. Speed limits have climbed steadily since the full repeal of the NMSL in 1995, commonly reaching 75, 80 and even 85 mph, and yet fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled have plummeted:

1995                1.73
2000                1.53
2005                1.46
2010                1.11
2015                1.15

The 2017 fatality rate of 1.16 marks a 33 percent reduction over the past 22 years. Mr. Farmer sees statistics differently than most, but then again, that is evident in how his organization reports its conclusions.

To see who benefits from the posting and enforcement of lower speed limits, look no further than the list of auto insurers that wholly fund the IIHS.

As TheNewspaper.com observed about the 2016 IIHS report, “. . .there is a financial reason for the insurance industry’s advocacy of artificially low speed limits. Every ticket issued on an underposted road raises the insurance premium for the ticketed driver, increasing the industry’s profit.”

What was true then is true now.