Brussels is considering new speed limits to save energy, in Germany the environment ministers want 130 km/h – or less. The Automobile Club of Germany criticizes “sham arguments” and refers to the current driving behavior.

Tempo 100, but only temporarily, generally Tempo 120, or rather 130? The speed limit on German autobahns is on everyone’s lips again, currently because of the energy shortage caused by the Ukraine war. The Automobile Club of Germany (AvD) is now joining the discussion. He assumes that the speed limit will ultimately have little effect: “Even the Agora Verkehrswende estimates the potential for CO2 savings through a general speed limit of 130 km/h at a maximum of two million tons per year. In view of the total annual CO2 emissions in Germany of around 762 million tons, Tempo 130 would only reduce CO2 emissions by 0.26 percent,” according to the club.

In addition, the club assumes that the reduction in emissions would be significantly smaller in practice than is estimated by various environmental organizations. Analysis of traffic counting stations showed that almost 80 percent of drivers do not drive faster than 130 km/h, even on stretches without a speed limit. According to the club, only two percent of drivers drive faster than 160 km/h on unlimited stretches of motorway, half of which were recorded in the late evening or at night.

AvD Secretary General Lutz Leif Linden says: “The discussion about a general speed limit has long since developed into a political bugbear that comes up again at every opportunity that arises. Now it’s supposed to save energy. But this does not require state paternalism of German citizens. They are in a position to decide for themselves whether or not they want to save energy by driving slowly,” says Leif Linden. In addition, electromobility, which is growing rapidly in Germany, is already contributing to an increasing reduction in emissions.

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The automobile clubs in Germany have different points of view on the subject. In addition to the AvD, Germany’s oldest car club, Germany’s youngest association, “Mobil in Deutschland”, also rejects a general speed limit. The ADAC takes a neutral position, which means it has at least given up its categorical rejection of a general limit. However, contrary to reports to the contrary, the ADAC is not expressly in favor of the speed limit. The ecologically oriented clubs VCD and ACE Europa are in favor of a limit – the ACE, for example, demands a speed of 100 km/h.

The environment ministers of the federal states recently spoke out in favor of a general speed limit, although the details are still unclear as to the level of the limit and whether it should be limited in time, for example for the duration of the energy poverty caused by the Ukraine war or for specific people times of day.

The EU is also considering a Europe-wide limit – as part of a renewed tightening of the CO2 reduction targets. Luxembourg’s Energy Minister Turmes told the dpa: “What we need at EU level is an EU-wide coordinated speed limit and two days of home office per week.” According to information from Brussels circles, there is unofficially a standard speed of 100 km/h on all motorways discussed. However, there are no official proposals yet.

In Europe, Germany is currently the only country without a general speed limit on motorways, although around a third of the routes already have speed limits. There are also many temporary restrictions, such as those caused by construction sites. Tempo 130 is only recommended as a recommended speed on the remaining routes. If Germany were to be given a 130 km/h limit, another country would move up to the European speed limit: Poland would then be the fastest at 140 km/h.

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