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Autobahn Driving Experiences

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J N Winkler:

--- Quote from: Rothman on November 27, 2022, 04:53:28 PM ---I though noughties referred to the early 2000s
--- End quote ---

I consider it to include the years from 2000 to 2009.  The visits in question took place in 2000 and 2004.

Aha, my bad.

Countries in Central Europe joined the EU in 2004 and the Schengen zone in 2007. Traffic volumes on east-west routes increased significantly since then, in particular Polish trucking took over much of the international trucking industry. You can see more Polish or Romanian trucks in France than German or Italian ones.

Road Hog:
Trucks and military convoys were no fun on the autobahn in the 1990s either. The bright side was there was no micropassing.


--- Quote from: J N Winkler on November 27, 2022, 01:35:16 PM ---Driving the Autobahn struck me as stressful.  Truck volumes were quite high, partly because Germany is a transit country and partly because in Europe generally the roads take up a much greater share of freight (on a tonne-kilometer basis) than in the US.  Truck speed limits are lower, meaning that just a single truck constrains passing opportunity for vehicles seeking to cruise at 130 km/h or better.  Many Germans (and nationals of adjacent countries) prefer to take advantage of truck bans on Sundays, but it is then more like running a relay race--there is heavy psychological pressure to drive at the edge of your comfort level to maintain access to overtaking opportunities and to complete overtakes without impeding faster vehicles.

Although the motorway network is quite large, the driver population is proportionately larger than in many US states, especially in the Midwest.  I have not been able to find good numbers on licensed driver population in Germany, but there are apparently 45 million cars in private household use that have access to a bit over 13,000 km of motorway (3460 drivers per centerline kilometer).  Compare this with Kansas, where 2 million licensed drivers have access to over 1600 km of freeway (1250 drivers per centerline kilometer).  While traffic distribution cannot be equal for a variety of structural reasons--on the German side, these include a relative lack of urban motorway as well as the much greater dependence on road haulage--this translates to a greater expectation of congestion on the network as a whole as well as relative scarcity of "quiet" Autobahn.

In my view, Americans who allow themselves to be dazzled by the derestricted motorways, stricter driving rules, etc. in Germany do not understand just how good they have it in the US.

--- End quote ---

Very interesting, especially the point about there being an apparent pressure to drive fast. I've never been overly impressed by the lack of speed limits, but I am intrigued by the strict adherence to the KRETP concept and its contribution to better traffic flow.

I do think we have it much better in the US in terms of how open and uncrowded much of the interstate system is, but of course there's also less population in these areas, so for many people, the use of those sections is reserved for medium- and long-distance trips. Meanwhile, the freeways that the average person uses every day for errands and commuting are generally busier and more crowded. These suburban and urban freeways are the ones where I feel the US has the most to gain from raising speed limits and/or getting stricter with driving rules such as KRETP.

Well, I recently drove a rental car on French autoroutes and enjoyed it immensely. Yes, it was costly with the tolls. But frequent services, a 130 km/h (81 mph) speed limit and no idiots camping in the left lane made it a pleasure.

As for the faster speeds, driving on the Tri State Tollway had me more than prepared for that. Though some hokey-dokey driver from Sheboygan would probably wet themselves.   :-D


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