OPINION | Here's why 300km/h highways work in Germany – but not in SA


The driver who recorded himself doing 300km/h in Gauteng, had better options for enjoying his sportscar. 

If you own a fast car, the successful arrest of a driver who recently filmed himself edging past 300km/h, is a noteworthy event. Those who assume that cleverly recording extreme public road driving speeds, doesn’t have consequences, are in for a surprise. The country’s law enforcement officials have shown remarkable efficiency in apprehending the driver in question, despite only have a recording of the car’s instrumentation and no obvious clue to registration. The law must now take its course, but if you love performance cars and the art of driving, how do you interpret the act of 300km/h on a public highway. At night?

READ | 300km/h Joburg speedster granted R1 000 bail

Any car enthusiast has faced the scrutiny of justifying why we need cars which are capable of double or triple the national highway speed limit. When you think of it, why do manufacturers sell cars capable of 300km/h? The defence has always been a coherent and logical one: there exists public roads, where you can drive as fast as you like. Legally. This autobahn defence for selling performance cars with a high top speed, can be contentious. 

Understanding what the autobahn actually is

Few people, even car enthusiasts, realise the discipline with which Germany’s autobahn functions. Even fewer, are aware of how little of the country’s total highway road network is actually unrestricted. 

It has always been a compelling argument in favour of the sportscar lobby, that Germany has incredibly low highway fatality statistics. Especially if you consider its traffic density, dangerous winter weather and the freedom of unrestricted highway speeds. 

The issue is that South Africa is not Germany. There is a huge discrepancy in the quality of our passenger and commercial vehicles: some are new and well maintained, but too many are unroadworthy. In Germany, all vehicles are in excellent condition and drivers on de-restricted sections of autobahn operate with absolute awareness of their lane discipline and approach speeds. 

Another issue is that pedestrians and animal cannot reach, much less cross, the German autobahn. You never have to be anxious about someone (or something) randomly sprinting across the highway in Germany. 


There are legal 300km/h options 

But what of the case regarding this driver who did 300km/h in his Audi? There is no justifiable way he had the right to do that, but he does have the right to own and enjoy a car of that performance. 

What is perhaps most annoying about his 300km/h public highway jaunt, is that South Africa has facilities where you can fully exploit the performance of your high-performance car, without endangering others or feeling guilt. Gauteng has a selection of motorsport venues which have open ‘track days’. Apply for special track day insurance, bring along a helmet, and you can slowly build confidence, whilst enjoying all your car’s dynamic potential in terms of acceleration, braking and cornering. 

Local car enthusiasts should cease trying to emulate autobahn behaviour in South Africa. The country has more pressing infrastructure issues than reshaping and administering sections of speed unrestricted highway. But this doesn’t mean that keen drivers can’t enjoy their performance cars. Everything has its time and place. And night-time on a Gauteng highway, is never the place for 300km/h. 

Disclaimer: Wheels24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Wheels24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Wheels24.

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