Controversial new speed limit on Austrian highways

As of August 1, 2018, Austria will test a much-criticized speed limit of 140km/hour on two sections of highway.

Roxane Seckauer
Roxane Seckauer Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Controversial new speed limit on Austrian highways - NewsMavens
Road. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

Transport Minister Norbert Hofer (FPÖ) has implemented a new speed limit of 140km/hour -- instead of 130 -- on two sections of the West Motorway, the second-longest Austrian highway.

The government justified its decision by saying that motorists will be able to reach their destination faster. However, there is little data that supports this -- on test tracks the difference amounted to merely a minute less.

Environmentalists and members of the opposition are unenthusiastic.

"With a speed limit of 140km/hour, we race even faster towards climate disaster," says politcian Bruno Rossmann of Liste Pilz.

He adds that the project is a "populist distraction maneuver" by the government. Adam Pawloff, climate spokesman of the environmental organization Greenpeace, called it "a questionable experiment".

Details from the story:

  • A speed limit of 140 km/hour is rare in Europe. Only in Poland and Bulgaria are such speeds allowed.
  • In Austria and 17 other European countries, the speed limit is 130km/hour on  highways.
  • Calculations by the Federal Highway Research Institute show that the change is unlikely to bring about more accidents.
  • However, the increased speed will emit significantly more pollutants into the air. Particulate matter pollution will increase by 18.6% and nitrogen emissions by 16.4%. CO2 emissions will see a 10.6% increase.
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Karolina Zbytniewska
Karolina ZbytniewskaEuractiv, Europe
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