The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Germany’s Autobahns

The powerful Mercedes I was travelling in was going at 190 kmph and my toes curled when I glanced at the speedometer. We were overtaking most cars on the road, and it was an entirely different feeling altogether.

Taking a deep breath, I said to myself, “Relax, this the Autobahn,” and sat back to enjoy the drive.

There is a mystique about the German autobahns (Bundesautobahn) that is based on the impression that these are some of the only roads in the world that have no speed limits whatsoever.

That’s not entirely true since about half of the road system passes through areas that are subjected to local as well as conditional limits.

The autobahn network has a total length of about 12,800 km, which makes it the fourth largest in the world behind the Interstate Highway System of theUnited States (approx. 75,400 km), the National Trunk Highway System of the People’s Republic of China (approx. 74,000 km) and the National Highwayof India (approx. 71,000 km).

Germany builds powerful cars, and there are many who believe that these cars need to be driven to their potential. Hence, speeds in excess of 200 kmph are commonplace. Having said that, even their not-so-powerful rival vehicles routinely travel at speeds in excess of 160 kmph.

There have been calls to impose speed limits, with those in favour stating that an increase in a car’s speed leads to greater fuel consumption, leading to greater air pollution. Safety has been another concern, even though Germany has one of the lowest accident fatality rates in the world.

Driving on the autobahn is a pleasure. The roads are excellent, the drivers are very disciplined, and the countryside is scenic.

What struck me was the disciplined driving habits of the motorists. There was no overtaking from the wrong side, no tailgating, no flashing of lights to overtake, no maniacal aggression. They drove fast, yes, but there was respect for the road rules and other motorists.

There were many BMWs and Audis that were travelling much faster than we were – at least 250 kmph according to the business associate I was travelling with – and they whizzed past us seemingly with no effort.

When our car exited from the autobahn to one of the smaller, country roads, it seemed as if we were driving very slowly – if you consider 100 kmph to be slow, that is.

One regret, though – I did not get to drive on the autobahn. Not sure if I trusted myself to drive at 200 kmph.

 

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September 28, 2011 - Posted by | About this and that | , , , , , , , , ,

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