Drivers in Germany still putting their foot down despite rising gas prices

Drivers in Germany still putting their foot down despite rising gas prices

Drivers in Germany are seemingly unbothered by the sharp rise in fuel prices over the last few months, with average speeds on the autobahn still as fast as ever. A survey has revealed numerous reasons for this, which begs the question: is it finally time for a general speed limit?

German motorists continue to drive fast

All over the world, the price of energy has skyrocketed, and in Germany things are no different. However, despite the rising cost of petrol, a study by navigation company TomTom has revealed that Germans are still driving as fast as ever. The study found that the average speed on the autobahn in Germany last month was 104 kilometres per hour (kmh). Back in February, just before fuel prices spiked, it was 105kmh.

While this demonstrates that German motorists have kept driving at around the same speeds since the cost of fuel rose sharply, it still might shock a few people that the average speed on the autobahn is so low. “It is essentially due to the fact that the construction work has increased,” explained Ralf-Peter Schäfer, a data analyst from TomTom. "The Germans drive like they used to, and money doesn't seem to matter."

In fact, the data reveals that around a quarter of German motorists drive between 130kmh to 150kmh on average. According to ADAC, the biggest motoring association in Germany, these drivers could save up to 20 percent on fuel, depending on their car model and driving style, simply by slowing down. This would not only save them money, but also help to reduce Germany’s dependence on gas from Russia.

Why don’t Germans slow down to save fuel?

Claudia Kemfert, the head of the Energy, Transportation and Environment Department at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, explained that a general speed limit would help save fuel and, therefore, money. "With a general speed limit of 100 on motorways, fuel consumption could be reduced by more than 3 billion litres," she said. "It would also save more than 9 million tons of CO2 at the same time."

However, according to a survey by ARD business magazine Plusminus, there are many reasons why drivers continue to drive at high speeds despite having to fork over large sums of money for fuel. These include trying to keep up with busy schedules, pressure from other drivers who are also driving fast or employers that pay for the cost of transport (including fuel costs).

Traffic psychologist Michael Haeser has also suggested another reason why drivers continue to drive fast: "The faster I drive, the more adrenaline the body releases. At the same time, endorphins are released, which are incredibly fun," he said. Since "fun" isn't exactly a logical reason, these kinds of drivers are probably less likely to listen to cost arguments, even if their wallets are constantly being drained by the rising fuel prices.

Thus, this may be the reason why even drivers are calling for the government to act; a speed limit will help drivers save fuel and, ultimately, save cash.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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