Death toll rises on Germany's autobahns

The number of people being killed in road accidents on Germany's no speed-limit motorways has gone up sharply, defying predictions of a steady drop as cars get safer, official figures show.

From January to November 2013 deaths on the autobahn rose by eight per cent to 387 fatalities, compared to 358 deaths over the same period of 2012. The number of motorway rear-end collisions also went up.

On more than half of Germany's autobahn system, drivers are free to drive as fast as they like. Speed limits generally only apply where traffic is heavy, near cities or in the case of roadworks. Voters have been hostile to calls to restrict speeds.

The mystery rise in autobahn deaths is in marked contrast to the general road-safety trend in Germany where fatal accidents are at an all-time low.

A total of 3340 people died in accidents on German roads in 2013 - the lowest number since the country began compiling annual statistics - and 260 fewer than in 2012.

Experts said the overall drop in road fatalities was due in part to the enhanced passenger-safety devices fitted to modern cars, including multiple airbags and driver assistance systems.

-AAP

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