Monday, April 9, 2007

The Autobahn

If there is one thing many Americans know about Germany it is about the autobahn. While it is true that the German Autobahn system was an influence on the US Interstate Highway system there are some differences.

Most Americans have the idea that the autobahn is a system of roads with no speed limit. This is not entirely correct because although there are sections of the autobahn that are free of speed limits most of the autobahn has a limit of 130 kilometers per hours (about 80 miles per hour) and sometimes less in areas around cities. On the parts of the autobahn that have no speed limits there is often so much traffic that you can't go much faster than the normal limit. Besides that, because of the normal traffic congestion, a long drive on the autobahn is not a very relaxing experience.

Recently I took a trip to a leadership seminar with some other people from RHEMA Germany. Our trip to the meeting took us just about 4 hours but the trip home took about 7 hours! The main difference was that on the way home there was an accident on the autobahn and traffic was backed up for miles. Some of the traffic jams get so bad that the autobahn basically becomes a big parking lot and people get out of their cars and walk around to see if they can get some idea about what is going on. In fact, we experienced one of those situations on the way to the seminar. The autobahn is a great road system for getting around Germany but you hope that when you want to go somewhere there won't be any accidents or that most other people just want to stay home!

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