VDA opposes using speed limit to patronize the public
General Speed Limit Will Not Help with Climate Protection or Safety
Frankfurt/Berlin, March 26, 2008. "A general speed limit on Germany's autobahns will not offer additional benefits in terms of climate protection or driving safety," said VDA Managing Director Dr. Kunibert Schmidt regarding the latest campaign by the pro-speed limit alliance. The VDA points to current statistics showing that the number of fatal autobahn accidents recorded from January to November 2007 decreased compared to the total for the same period in 2006 by an above-average margin of nearly ten percent. Given this development, there is no basis for the call for a general speed limit on the autobahns. "Much more important than the mantra-like repetition of old demands are measures designed to prevent motorists from driving at speeds that are not in line with weather conditions and the flow of the surrounding traffic - the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents," Schmidt added. The VDA Managing Director believes the new traffic safety initiative of German Minister of Transport Wolfgang Tiefensee correctly focuses on this aspect of the issue. "This campaign is a step in the right direction for raising drivers' awareness. We fully support it," said Schmidt.
The right approach is not a general, fixed speed limit, said Schmidt, but rather the further consistent expansion of the use of traffic signs that change in accordance with changing traffic situations, that can flexibly display speed limits appropriate for bad weather or specific traffic conditions and take into account the fact that a speed of 120 kilometers per hour can be far too fast in some instances. All the studies have shown that such flexible limits find much greater acceptance by drivers and result in much higher rates of compliance than rigid limits do.
"The poor rates of compliance with a general speed limit in Germany's neighboring countries show that ill-considered limits that drivers do not accept are not an effective solution," Schmidt said. "What we need are responsible, safety-conscious drivers - not ongoing attempts to patronize the public." A speed limit would be a zero-sum game in terms of climate protection. "Based on the available data that is reliable, we know that a speed limit does not offer additional benefits in terms of climate protection," said Schmidt. "Everything else is simply vague claims and purely a symbolic political gesture. We really shouldn't take the competitive advantages enjoyed by one of Germany's key industries and sacrifice them on the altar of ideology."