Majority of public back Autobahn speed limit

A new survey published on Thursday shows that a majority of Germans are in favour of speed limits on the Autobahn – the country's highways which until now have been famously limit-free.

Majority of public back Autobahn speed limit
File photo: DPA

The number of countries with no nationwide speed limit on highways is vanishingly small. Other members of the club besides Germany include Afghanistan, North Korea, and the Isle of Man, a British dependency in the Irish sea.

Now pollsters from YouGov have found that 56 percent of the public would be in favour of a nationwide speed limit of 150 km/h on Germany's 12,950 kilometres of motorway – but that lower limits were still out of the question.

Just 40 percent would support a limit of 130 kmh/h – the same as France – while a tiny 11 percent would be OK with national limits of 100 km/h, just under the British national limit of 70 mph (112 km/h).

Across the Autobahn network, many stretches already have a speed limit – and there's a 'suggested' speed of 130 km/h across the network.

Police patrols may also pull over the especially speedy if they're driving too fast for the conditions.

Motorists say it's a no-go

But motorists' organization ADAC rejects the idea of a nationwide limit.

“In our opinion, we don't think it would be safer,” ADAC spokesman Andreas Hölzel told The Local.

“If you look at international comparisons, Germany – with no generalized speed limit – performs just as well on safety.

“Britain is a bit better, but France, Belgium, the USA and Japan all have worse accident rates.”

In fact, the YouGov results showed that only 48 percent of the general public believed that a speed limit would make the Autobahn safer.

Under a road safety programme launched by the federal government in 2011, the number of people killed on the Autobahn fell 17 percent by 2014 to 375.

Conditional speed limits

Hölzel said that an annual survey of ADAC'S 19 million members consistently showed a majority against national speed limits, with 65 percent saying they were against the idea in last year's poll.

He added that “we're not against having any speed limits at all, but we're against one that covers the whole country.

Cars driving through fog on the A7 Autobahn near Rendsburg, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

“They can make sense under certain conditions, like when there's snow or fog, [or] when there's large volumes of traffic.”

Older people want to go slow

YouGov pointed out that older drivers were much more likely to be in favour of one of the lower speed limit options.

An older driver climbs into his vehicle. File photo: DPA

Half of over-55s said that they would support a 130 km/h nationwide limit, compared with just over a third of 18- to 24-year-olds.

The YouGov poll covered a representative sample of 1,198 people in Germany, who were interviewed between October 9th and 13th 2015.

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EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

The popularity of electric scooters in Germany has exploded in the last few years, but many people still aren't sure what the rules for driving them are. We break them down.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

Germany is currently the world’s second-largest market for e-scooter rental after the USA, which might explain why you have the feeling that you’re seeing the electric vehicles everywhere these days, at least in cities. 

According to a recent survey by ADAC,15 percent of people in Germany aged 16 and over regularly use e-scooters. Of these, 45 percent own their own scooter, while 55 percent rent the vehicles from sharing services.

Here are the rules for driving an e-scooter that you need to know.

Who can drive an e-scooter?

Anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric scooter and you don’t need to have a driving license to use one. However, many of the traffic rules for motorists also apply to e-scooter riders, and misbehaving on a scooter could end up costing you points on your driving license or even getting you a driving ban.

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No. Only one person is allowed to ride a scooter and if you are caught riding in two, you will get a €10 fine.

Although it might be fun, riding side by side on two scooters is also not allowed and can be punished with a fine of between €15 and €30. Instead, you and your friends have to ride in single file.

Where can you ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are principally allowed on bike paths and in bike lanes and you can only drive them on the road if there is no bike lane available. If you do drive on the road, you must keep as far to the right as possible and you are not allowed to ride in bus lanes.

It’s also forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the motorway – doing so will get you a €20 fine. 

Riding an e-scooter on the pavement, in pedestrian-only zones, or in one-way streets against the direction of traffic is also not allowed and can land you a fine of between €15 and €30.

However, e-scooters are allowed on one-way or no-entry roads which have a “cyclists free” sign.

A no-entry sign with a “cyclists free” sign underneath. This sign also applies to e-scooters. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

Which traffic light rules apply to electric scooters?

E-scooter riders have to abide by traffic lights just like motorists, and the fine for ignoring a red light on an e-scooter is between €60 and €180.

However, if there is also a traffic light for bicycles, e-scooter riders can follow this one instead.

Is there an alcohol limit for electric scooters?

Yes, the same alcohol limits for motorists apply to electric scooter riders.

This means that anyone who drives with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 to 1.09 is liable for a fine of €500, a 1-month driving ban and 2 points on their driving license.

It’s a criminal offence to ride an electric scooter with a blood alcohol concentration of at more than 1.1, as is causing an accident with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3.

Under 21s must be completely alcohol free – with a blood alcohol level of 0.0 – to ride an e-scooter.

Where can e-scooters be parked?

E-scooters can be parked at the roadside, on the pavement and in pedestrian zones with designated e-scooter parking areas. However, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that they don’t obstruct or endanger pedestrians or other road users. 

Parked e-scooters in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Which rules are there for e-scooter owners?

If you’ve upgraded from renting to owning your own scooter, there are certain requirements you have to be aware of. 

Firstly, it’s mandatory to have liability insurance and a special sticker (similar to a license plate) stuck to the scooter to show that it is insured.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: Haftpflichtversicherung

E-scooter owners also have to make sure that they have two independently working brakes and lights. 

Which other rules should I be aware of?

As with driving a car or cycling, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone while riding an e-scooter (which is pretty challenging anyway). If you’re caught doing so, you’ll get a €100 fine and a point on your driving license. 

It’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, though it is recommended.