Data analysis by Der Spiegel, a German news magazine and website, has concluded that a speed limit applied across all German motorways would save 140 lives a year.
The autobahn debate was sparked again in Germany last month after a 130 km/h motorway speed limit was one of a number of measures recommended by a Government commission looking at how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
The transport minister Andreas Scheuer immediately ruled out such a measure, calling it an “unrealistic demand” and against “all common sense”. He also stated that German motorways are “the safest in the world”.
According to ETSC’s research, Germany’s motorways are not the safest in the world. Even by European standards, Germany only ranks in tenth place amongst countries that publish data on deaths per billion-km of motorway travel. The risk of death on a German motorway is around twice as high as on a British or Danish one.
Research by the German Road Safety Council (DVR), ETSC’s German member, has shown that there are, on average, 25% more deaths on sections of the autobahn without speed limits compared to those with a limit.
Der Spiegel has also pointed to before and after studies when a 130km/h limit was introduced on sections of the autobahn – and found that deaths and serious injuries reduced considerably.
This finding aligns with a recent ten-country study by the OECD which showed speed increases are associated with an increased occurrence and severity of road crashes and vice-versa.
In a separate development, Germany has finally begun trials of time-over-distance speed cameras. A test of the technology is running near Hannover on a 2km section of a national road. The trial is set to run until 2020.
Photograph by Dirk Vorderstraße – Creative Commons license