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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: How to register your car in Germany from September 1st

Vehicle registration is about to get a lot easier in Germany, as the process moves online from September 1st. But how will it work?

EXPLAINED: How to register your car in Germany from September 1st

What’s happening?

In an era of digital transformation, Germany is taking a significant step towards streamlining its vehicle registration process.

From September 1st, the new i-Kfz project, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV), will introduce an internet-based vehicle registration system that will allow people to register, de-register, and re-register their vehicles online.

When do I need to register my vehicle?

Anyone who owns a motor vehicle in Germany and intends to use it on public roads has to register it with the authorities in the area where they live. This applies to both residents and non-residents and also means that vehicles have to be re-registered when moving to a different region of Germany.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What to know about driving in low emissions zones in Germany

If you buy a car through a dealership, they will normally take care of vehicle registration for you. But if you bought the car privately or imported it, you will need to register it yourself.

Until now, that meant making an appointment at the local Kraftfahrzeug Zulassungsstelle (car registration office), but from September 1st, this can be done online.

What documents do I need to register my vehicle?

There are several documents that you need to register your vehicle, including:

– A valid ID (a German passport, foreign one or an ID card)

– Registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung)

– Proof of ownership (part II of the car’s registration certificate)

– Proof of car insurance (eVB number)

– Foreign registration certificate (for imported cars only)

– Proof of road worthiness following technical inspection (TÜV certificate)

– SEPA direct debit mandate for payment of vehicle tax

How do I register online?

The federal states and local administrations will be responsible for setting up the i-Kfz registration portals and these portals can be accessed through the website of your local registration authority (or by searching, for example “Berlin i-Kfz Anmeldung”).

To use the online service, you will need:

– An identity card (including residency permits) with an eID online function

– A card reader or a smartphone with a free ID app

– Vehicle documents with security code 

How long do I have to wait before I can drive my car?

One of the major changes introduced by the i-Kfz is that the vehicle registration is activated immediately. Once registered through the i-Kfz system, vehicles can hit the roads right away.

The registration notification, vehicle documents, and license plates will then be sent by mail, which usually two to three business days. You can be on the road without these documents for up to 10 days, as long as you keep the digital registration certificate as proof that the vehicle is registered.

READ ALSO: How to get a German driver’s licence as a third-country national

As with regular registration, you will need to take care of the license plates yourself. However, these can also be easily ordered online, via a website like the STVA.

What does online vehicle registration cost?

The fees for digital vehicle registration are slightly higher than those for in-person visits to the registration office.

The cost for digitally registering a vehicle for the first time is €27.90 (instead of €27). For transferring vehicle ownership, the fee is €28.20, while the de-registration of a car costs only €5.70.

There is also a charge of €10.20 for sending the Part II registration certificate by registered mail or as a certificate of postal delivery.