The northern city of Bremen today became the first state in Germany to introduce a speed limit on its autobahns. The new limits are 120kph but will, thankfully, only affect 60 km of road given the small size of the state.
Germany's autobahns have had a long and successful history of being the testing grounds for many manufacturers. They were originally built without speed limits by the Nazis and since the end of WW2 the European car industry has successfully lobbied against such limits.
Interestingly, the reasoning behind the move was not simply to reduce the road toll or increase safety, but more so to cut CO2 emissions. Environmental groups have lobbied the German government for years, arguing that speed restrictions would cut vehicle CO2 output by 5 per cent immediately and by 15 percent in the future.
"This is a good day for traffic safety and we are also sending a signal about protecting the environment and climate, our goal is to introduce a general speed limit on motorways in the whole of Germany together with other states," said Reinhard Loske, Bremen's environment minister.
However, German leader Angela Merkel has previously ruled out introducing a national speed limit of 130km/h as proposed by her own coalition.