How Fast You Can Drive and Other Technology Advantages
I drove through Europe last week from my home north of Copenhagen in Denmark to Starigrad Paklenica in Croatia. It is a 1.536 km journey that we did in two days. The first day we got up very early to catch the ferry leaving Gedser at 07:00 in the morning arriving at 08:45 in Rostock, Germany. The distance from my home to the ferry is 176 km and with no traffic, this early in the day, we had plenty of time. We were at the ferry at 06:35 without breaking any speed limits.
How far can you go?
As we were heading south and passed Berlin, we decided to drive until 19:00 and then make a stopover for the night. You cannot predict the traffic conditions on the Germany motorways, so we had not made any hotel reservations. At 18:00 we would have a much better picture of how far we could go and then make the reservation.
Adaptive cruise control – comfortable and safe
Driving on the German motorways is mostly a civilized experience. On certain stretches, there is no speed limit, and people can drive as fast as they please. I prefer to drive at 140 km/h and turn on the cruise control to maintain a steady speed. When I approach a car driving slower, then my cruise control will detect the vehicle and lower my speed until I give a signal and start overtaking. My car will then accelerate to the preset speed and pass the vehicle in front of me.
When passing slower moving vehicles, it may happen that someone driving much faster than 140 km/h approaches you from behind. You can observe which of these cars uses adaptive cruise control and which do not (or may not have this feature). The adaptive cruise control will automatically lower your speed and maintain a safe distance to the car in front. You can choose to override it, but then a red alert will show above the instrument panel. You can decide to ignore that also, but why should you? Driving very close to the car in front of you at 140 km/h and above is a hazardous undertaking illustrating that you either know little about the law of physics or are plain ignorant. It may happen that someone pulls out right in front of you. And that does happen quite frequently, as traffic becomes dense. If you remember that we have no rights in traffic, then lower your speed and keep the distance. The adaptive cruise control will do it for you, and it makes better decisions than most of us – all the time.
Where to stay?
The day went well and using the adaptive cruise control took a lot of stress out of the driving. As we approached Munich, the traffic got very dense, and the navigation took us through the city rather than on the A99 ring road. According to the navigation, we could reach somewhere south of Salzburg in Austria at 19:00. We had already bought the Austrian motorway vignette on the internet before leaving home, and we didn’t have to refuel until the day after, so we knew fairly well how far we could go until 19:00. My wife was driving the car when I turned on booking.com on my iPad to check the availability of hotels along the motorway south of Salzburg. There were plenty to choose from. We did a double check on Tripadvisor and made the booking. It took less than 10 minutes. When we arrived at the Gasthof Goldene Traube in Golling, they were awaiting us.
What about those speed limits?
The next day we had just 577 km in front of us. We left the hotel at 9:00 and headed south. Having chosen to drive through Europe on weekdays, the traffic was light, and we made it through the Tauern Tunnel, the Katzberg Tunnel and the Karavanken Tunnel with no delays whatsoever. We reached Slovenia at 11:00 and the traffic was still light. For some reason, there is no motorway connection between Slovenia and Croatia unless you go through Zagreb, which is quite a detour if you come from Northern Europe (which many of the tourists do). Anyway, it was quite nice to do some driving on the smaller roads although the way from Nova Mesto to the border south of Crnomelj could do with some new tarmac.
We were on the Zagreb – Rijeka motorway at 13:00 and soon headed south on the A1 towards Zadar and Split. The Croatian highways are of a very high quality, and the payment is well organized. You take a ticket when entering and pay when leaving. No payment stops in between. The general speed limit is 130 km/h, which everyone seems to ignore completely. 160 km/h seems to be the norm. At some locations, the electronic road signs may show a lower speed limit and for no reason whatsoever. It is also never indicated when that speed limit ends. In my experience, through driving the last 200 km in Croatia, none of the cars have adaptive cruise control (or they don’t like to use it). Faster driving cars will drive right up your tail and stay there until you give way. They may even flash their lights though it is evident that there is nowhere you can go until you have finished overtaking the vehicle in front of you. It doesn’t affect me, but I do find the behavior interesting and wonder why such people stress themselves.
Will driving fast bring you quicker to your destination?
The answer is: “not much.”
The faster you drive relative to the traffic, the more often you have to break when approaching slower moving vehicles (like mine). The result is that you will not gain much. The price you pay is excessive fuel consumption and stress.
Go with the flow is the better option. With adaptive cruise control, technology has made that much easier, more pleasant and much safer.