A Speed Limit for the Autobahn?

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It seemed like a no-brainer: lower Germany’s high carbon emissions at no cost and save some lives in the process. But when a government committee floated the idea of a speed limit on the mostly unregulated autobahn, the country’s 7,500-mile highway network, it almost caused rioting. Experts say a speed limit of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour could get Germany closer to reaching its 2020 climate goals and might also help prevent high-speed crashes. But many citizens of the self-declared “auto nation” protested the idea, and Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer called it “contrary to every common sense.” That may seem like an odd reaction, but experts say the country’s restrictive culture likely plays a factor. “Germany is terribly regulated,” says John C. Kornblum, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany. “People look for their little spaces of freedom, and the autobahn is one of them.”

*State Highway 130 in Texas