A looming proposal to impose speed limits on Germany's unrestricted Autobahn sections was overwhelmingly voted down by the country's parliament on Thursday, dealing a blow to what was ostensibly a proposal geared toward reducing traffic and emissions while boosting safety.
The bill, which would have imposed a universal 130-kph (80 mph) limited on the country's highway system, was defeated, with 498 votes cast against it and 133 either supporting or abstaining, Deutsche Welle reported last week.
While Germany's libertarian attitudes toward vehicle speeds are often lauded by enthusiasts, the country's environmental protection efforts have been a lurking threat to unrestricted highway speeds for decades.
Despite this, Green party member and restriction proponent Cem Özdemir said that he didn't expect the measure to pass this time, but he hopes that renewed attempts will bring more and more representatives into the fold.
Germany's Autobahn holds an almost mythical appeal to outsiders for its laissez faire approach to speed limits, but more than 30 percent of its total mileage (in areas near urban centers) is subject to speed limits, which tend to be aggressively enforced. Its neighbors all impose national limits of either 130 (Austria, Denmark, France, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands) or 120 kilometers per hour (Switzerland and Belgium).
The allure of the Autobahns has even prompted efforts to bring a similar structure to American interstates. The initiatives have never attracted much support, even at the state level, and American standards with regard to driver training will likely remain an insurmountable barrier to the adoption of anything similar.
One hope for higher-speed interstates lies with autonomous vehicles, but that's small consolation for those who want the freedom to pilot their own cars at higher speeds on America's interstates.