New Calls for Autobahn Speed Cuts – Paris Car-Free

Autobahns might be safer than other German roads but fatal accidents on derestricted sections are much higher than those with speed limits say new figures.

Also, fine details unclear on first Paris car-free day as clean-up operation starts along the capital’s major roads. Problems with new cross-border fines in Belgium. Street parking is on average €5 per hour in Amsterdam. January’s Eurotunnel fire caused by ‘arcing event’.



New figures reveal significantly higher death rates on derestricted sections.

Photo @DriveEurope

Photo @DriveEurope

The derestricted sections of German autobahn come in for regular criticism, mostly recently in May 2013 from the now deputy chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

The perennial argument in favour of no motorway speed limits is that the autobahns are far safer than other roads.

Now opponents are focusing their attacks on this piece of received wisdom.

In a report on motorway safety in Europe, published today, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) says, ‘The number of deaths per kilometre of motorway was 30% lower on stretches of German motorways that have speed limit compared to those without limits.’

It recommends a speed limit on all German motorways. The most recent figures, from 2008, say two thirds of the motorway network has no speed limit.

Jacqueline Lacroix of the German Road Safety Council (DVR) and a member of ETSC says, ‘Speeding is a major cause of concern on our motorways. High differential speeds and failure to keep a safe distance can result in very severe rear-end collisions. Measures to reduce speeding are therefore urgently needed.’

According to the ETSC, deaths on German motorways fell from 694 in 2004 to 387 in 2012 but rose by 11% in 2013 even as the overall death rate fell by 7%.

In common with France and the UK, Germany is expected to announce another rise in accident fatalities for 2014.

Whether the ETSC’s latest intervention will have any effect is doubtful. As Clemens Gleich said in his 2013 eBook The Traveller’s Guide to the German Autobahn, ‘A general speed limit seems un-German to us, has a socialist stench, maybe even something French about it.’


Paris will hold its first car-free Sunday on 26 September. More later.

Paris will hold its first car-free day, on Sunday 27 September, the city’s contribution to European Mobility Week and ahead of the major COP21 climate conference to be held in Paris in December. Precise details are scarce as yet, including the area the car-free zone will cover, whether buses and taxis will be allowed on the streets and whether it will be voluntary for drivers or, like Brussels, enforced with a stiff fine. In the meantime, Paris will be actually trying to do something nice for drivers. €5m in extra funding was voted through on Wednesday to urgently clear rubbish from around the capital’s motorways, specifically the A1 into town from Charles de Gaulle airport. Photo @Anne_Hidalgo, Paris mayor.


roundup: BELGIUM. Only drivers from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland are sent remote speeding fines because of translation difficulties reports La Derniere Heure (via and The authorities say they are working on a fix. Belgium signed up to the original 2013 cross-border fines directive but the countries mentioned, plus Spain, were already included in an earlier info sharing agreement. NETHERLANDS. The average price of street parking in central Amsterdam is now €5/hour according to a new national parking survey (via Forty percent of municipalities raised prices this year by an average 6% (up 20% in Haarlem) to an average €2.66/hour. Cheapest is Zoetermeer near The Hague at €1.28/hr. Street parking is generally cheaper than parking garages (though is normally time-limited) but there is usually at least one cheaper garage says the survey. The cheapest garage parking we know in Amsterdam, by the Central Station, is €32.50 per 24 hours. CROSSING THE CHANNEL. The fire in mid-January which severely restricted Eurotunnel services for several days was started by an electric arc as the train entered the tunnel on the UK side says the interim report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). Despite the power supply briefly tripping, the fire itself wasn’t discovered until 22 minutes later when the train was still 21km from the French side. Eurotunnel says it has reviewed procedures following ‘arcing events’. A truck driver pulling a refrigerator unit noticed last night, for the first time, that he was loaded onto a covered wagon.


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