The real reason why Germany’s Autobahn has no speed limit

The German Autobahn is still one of the few places in the world where anyone can drive their car to the max, and there are a couple of good reasons for that.

by | Published on 15th Sep 2023

The Autobahn, Germany’s highway network, is just about the only place in the world where you can push your car to the max.

There’s no speed limit, which means you can drive as fast as you want (or as fast as your car allows you).

So where’s the catch?

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Is it really totally unrestricted?

The first thing we should point out is not all of the Autobahn is unrestricted.

Germany has over 13,000 km (8,100 miles) of Autobahn and around 60 percent of it has no speed limit.

About one third has a permanent limit, and then there are temporary limits for other areas.

An ‘advisory’ speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph) applies to the entire network.

Why is there no speed limit?

When construction of the Autobahn began in the 1930s, speed limits weren’t really a thing.

The first section was built to bring diplomats from Cologne to Bonn during World War II, after which the network rapidly grew.

Right out of the gate, Germans began using the Autobahn to test the top speed of their cars.

In 1938, Rudolf Caracciola reached 432 km/h (268 mph) at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz W125, setting the world record for the fastest speed on public roads.

More recently, a German tuning company called 9ff, tested a special-edition Porsche 911 on the Autobahn and hit 380 km/h (236 mph).

In short, there’s no speed limit because 90-odd years later, Germany still doesn’t really want one.

Is the Autobahn safe?

This is the million-dollar question, and the answer is quite simple: yes, it is safe.

One of the reasons why there’s no speed limit is there’s no need for one.

Per capita, traffic related deaths in Germany are one of the lowest in the world, with 3.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

For reference, that’s 70 percent less than those in the United States.

Some say that precisely because there’s no speed limit, people are inclined to pay more attention.

Also, it’s worth noting that even though there’s no speed limit per se, the driver’s responsibility in case of an accident is directly correlated to how fast they were going when they crashed.

In other words, in case of an accident, the judge will likely rule in favor of whoever was going slowest.



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Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.

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