As the UK looks set to introduce a new 60mph limit on sections of motorway, our days of cruising along at the 70mph national speed limit could be numbered. But as we gear up for a potential speed downgrade, it’s amazing to think that some roads out there remain free from any restrictions at all.
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It’s hard to imagine life without speed limits, but on some roads around the world, this is a reality. So, if you’re someone who likes driving fast, perhaps you should pay a visit to one of these amazing roads while they’re still limitless…
1. Autobahn, Germany
When we think of roads without limits, one always comes to mind: the autobahn. Germany’s iconic highway system is famous around the world for its limitless stretches of tarmac, where a recommended limit of 130 km/h (80 mph) is often ignored.
A road without speed limits might sound like an accident waiting to happen, but the autobahn is among the safest highway networks in the world. That’s mainly due to a handful of stringent safety rules, as well as the presence of the autobahnpolizei – the autobahn’s dedicated police force.
What many people don’t know about the autobahn is that it’s not all limitless; indeed, over 8,000 miles of the network are regulated by speed limits. And many people believe these limits should extend to the whole system, both for safety and environmental reasons.
While there are currently no plans to introduce further restrictions on the German autobahn, campaigners may get their way eventually. So, if you want to red line it on this amazing motorway, go for it sooner rather than later.
2. Isle of Man, British Isles
The Isle of Man is famous for two things: the tailless Manx cat and, of course, the Isle of Man TT – one of the world’s most dangerous races. And perhaps it makes sense that this small island plays host to such a fearsome motorcycling event, it being one of the only places on Earth with no national speed limit.
With its country roads and sleepy villages, the Isle of Man may not sound like a stadium of speed, but that’s exactly what it’s become for many who visit. Thanks to the huge popularity of the TT and the island’s unrestricted roads, thousands visit each year to put the pedal down on its race-ready twists and turns.
The Isle of Man’s love affair with speed began in 1904, when the local governor delimited local roads for car and motorcycle racing, a move he thought would help promote the island. This, coupled with the TT and the Manx Grand Prix, did exactly that – cementing the isle as a bastion of speed in the middle of the Irish Sea.
Today, drivers will find some speed limits in the island’s built-up areas, but many miles remain unrestricted. Suffice to say, sportscar rental is big business on the island; just watch out for those tricky twist and turns as featured on the classic TT Mountain Route.
3. Northern Territory, Australia
Australia’s arid Northern Territory is big, very big. So big, in fact, that the UK would fit inside it five times over. That means it’s home to some ridiculously long, straight, flat roads – many of which are free from speed restrictions, and ideal for putting a car through its paces.
Historically, the roads of the Northern Territory were all unrestricted, meaning motorists could blitz through the harsh desert faster than you could say saltwater crocodile. But this all changed with the introduction of speed limits in the early 2000s – limits which the current Australian government is quickly doing away with.
From 2014 to now, hundreds of miles of highways in the Northern Territory have seen their limitless status restored, leaving drivers free to hit the accelerator hard. And even in areas where there are speed limits, motorists are restricted to 86 mph – so petrolheads have no real cause for complaint.
While speed limits are obviously important in built-up areas, this isn’t a problem for the Northern Territory. Despite its colossal size, under a quarter of a million people live here, so even at the red line, you’re unlikely to run into congestion.
Not Quite Limitless: Best of the Rest Fast Roads Around the World
While there are very few places around the world with no speed limits, some countries have such relaxed restrictions that some of their roads could be classed as limitless. From Poland to the States, here we take a look at some of the roads with the fastest speed limits around the world.
Perhaps taking a leaf out of their neighbour’s book, Poland has a very high speed limit on its national highway network, the autostrada. Here, motorists are free to travel up to 87 mph, and with very little in the way of speed policing, you could probably get away with a lot more – not that we’re condoning it, of course.
Part of the reason why Poland has such a high motorway speed limit is linked to the fact that a couple of its roads are connected to the German autobahn. This includes the famous E30 driving route which spans from Cork, Ireland to Moscow, Russia – an unforgettable journey of some 2,100 miles.
Highway 130, USA
As discovered in our guide to the countries around the world with the highest speed limits, the US takes a rather scatter-brained approach to speed restrictions. That’s because they’re decided on a state-by-state basis, meaning you should always have an eye on local speed limits if you’re planning a US road trip.
One of the fastest stretches of road you can drive on stateside is Highway 130. Cutting through Texas, some parts of this all-American highway have limits up to 85 mph, so you can see what your chosen hire car is all about. Plus, with some amazing scenery to be had, it’s certainly one to add to your American road trip itinerary.
E11 Highway, UAE
With a huge number of supercars per capita, it perhaps makes sense that the United Arab Emirates has some truly eye-watering speed limits. On one particular stretch close to the Persian Gulf, drivers aren’t quite allowed to drive at 100mph, but as good as, with a limit of 99 mph.
But as the country develops and the number of cars on the road continues to soar, the UAE is seeing tougher enforcement and more sensible speed restrictions. That means, for the nation’s thousands of sports car owners, their days of cruising along at 99 mph may be limited.
What are your thoughts on speed limits? Would you like to see British motorways follow in the footsteps of the German autobahn? Have your say on the Redex Club Facebook page. For more from Redex, visit the homepage.