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Merkel challenger hits brakes on autobahn limits

Wednesday - 5/8/2013, 8:07am  ET

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, looks at German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, left, as she arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger in September's election is trying to avoid a political speed bump.

Peer Steinbrueck is trying to halt a debate set off by a Social Democrat colleague about whether to introduce speed limits on all German highways -- a potential turnoff for voters.

The chairman of his party was quoted Wednesday as saying that a 75 mph (120 kph) autobahn limit would make sense because statistics suggest it would reduce serious accidents.

Stretches of Germany's autobahns have no speed limit, traditionally a cherished freedom. But debates periodically flare about whether one should be introduced.

Steinbrueck, whose party trails in the polls, tells WDR television there already are limits on most of autobahns. He says "it's not the time to reignite this debate."


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