November 24, 1973 – The Autobahn gets a speed limit

Ah, the Autobahn. It’s where you go to put the pedal to the metal for unrestricted automotive thrills, right? Well, sort of — in some places. The German Autobahn, officially known as the Bundesautobahn (federal motorway), actually has many speed-controlled areas. Marked speed limits are found in sections that commonly face dense traffic, are under construction or that are otherwise accident prone. Yet, the go as fast as you want stretches are out there. For a time though, this wasn’t the case. On this day in 1973, the ongoing oil crisis prompted the government of West Germany to impose a national speed limit on the Autobahn of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph). It only lasted four months.

Engineer Fritz Todt can be credited with developing the Autobahn, which he did under order from Adolf Hitler after being made Inspector General for German Roadways. At that point he had already been a part of the Nazi party for more than a decade and had risen to senior colonel.

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