I don't want to burst any bubbles, but: Our Autobahnen is not that speeder's utopia that some think they are. Yes, there is no global upper speed limit, but nearly everywhere, you've got to stick to local speed limits which will usually be somewhere between 100 and 130 km/h. Furthermore, the main population of an Autobahn is not sleek Audis, speeding Porsches, heavy Mercedes battle cruisers and arrogant businessmen in fierce BMWs... those occur, often they are very annoying. Most cars are ordinary VWs (Polos, Golfs, Passats), Opels (Astras, Vectras, Corsas), French or Japanese models. Except for Sundays and odd hours, the right lane of the dual carriageway is usually nearly completely taken up by lorries -- the European variety, usually chunky Scania, DAF or Daimler-Benz machines hauling containers from one EU country to another. An Autobahn is usually much narrower than any American highway, it's very crowded, and we don't drive as relaxed as other people. We want to get from point A to point B -- fast. There's no smooth and cool driving over thousands of miles. We've all got five-speed stick shifts and we know how to use them. Due to the very dense traffic which causes a lot of wear and tear and the high density of nodes such as intersections, bifurcations and exits, there are also permanent repairs about everywhere, causing lots of traffic jams.

On the first driving lesson that took me to an Autobahn, my driving teacher pushed me to a top speed of about 160 km/h. There are many Germans who regularly do 200 km/h where it's allowed.

German freeway-system without upper speed limit, but since 1974 an advised speed of 130 km/h. The length of the Autobahnsystem in 1996 11,080 km. There have been 26,627 traffic-accidents in 1999.

This is right, there is no fixed upper speed limit, (having thousands of local ones) for cars, but there is in fact a lower speed limit. No vehicles slower than 60 km/h are allowed to drive on the Autobahn. Large lorries have a speed limit of 80 km/h.

Most of the time there is no advantage of having no speed-limit except in the night as most of the Autobahnen are full and there really is no fun driving then. At night and in a fast car you can have a very fast and pleasant ride. And there is always someone driving faster than you.

It is an often-heard myth that the Autobahn was the invention of Adolf Hitler; usually this is claimed by Nazi apologists to have been an important measure to reduce unemployment and an example that Hitler was a great man and "not all was bad" in the third reich.

In truth, the Autobahn network was not originally planned by Hitler, nor did he begin its construction. Plans for a countrywide network of highspeed roads came up already during the Weimar republic and detailed technical planning started in 1924. However, most of these plans could not be implemented due to political instability and railway industry lobbying. In fact, Hitler's NSDAP actively opposed the building of Autobahns only a few years before they came into power in 1933.

Nevertheless, the first short Autobahn (or at least Autobahn-like road) was built between 1929 and 1932 from Cologne to Bonn, on the initiative of Konrad Adenauer, who was at that time mayor of Cologne and chairman of a regional road planning committee (and later became the first chancellor of the newly-formed Federal Republic of Germany).

Also, the word "Autobahn" was first coined at this time, but not referring to the newly-built road: it was used in a trade magazine to describe ambitious plans for a highspeed road from Hamburg to Basel via Frankfurt.

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