Not necessarily. In stark contrast to common sense the autobahn, where some drivers exceed 200 mph, is relatively safe. The fatality rate on the German autobahn is actually much lower than that observed on the US interstate system. The Economist reports that per every 100,000 people under the age of 24, in the US nearly 20 die in auto accidents compared to approximately 7 in Germany. Even with this low amount of deaths, one would assume that the "dangerous" autobahn accounted for most of the German accidents. Yet, in 2009 accidents on the autobahn accounted for less than 10%. How can this be?
Well, speed aside, drivers of the autobahn experience more restrictions than we have here in the US. To begin, in Germany drivers licenses are much more difficult to acquire. Individual driver’s training courses are mandatory and a driver’s licenses (which could cost you $1500) can only be obtained at age 18, two years older than we experience in the United States.
Also, on the autobahn, it is illegal to pass a car on the right side. This helps to ensure that the left lane is clear for those cars traveling at high speeds. In the United States, the same is true in concept as the left lane is regarded as the passing lane, however there is no law which enforces this practice. More so, because it is expected to endure cars at much higher speeds, the autobahn requires much smoother pavement than other interstates or highways. The autobahn pavement is twice as thick as what is found on US interstates and is well maintained.
Another factor contributing to its safety is the quality of vehicles using the autobahn. The autobahn has had a significant effect on the way which cars are engineered as the German auto industry has had to create cars with the autobahn in mind. This makes German cars, as a whole, faster than foreign competitors. The autobahn has helped to ensure German cars are safe in crash testing, high speed maneuverability, and brakes. Even as we rebound from a global recession German automobiles such as Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz remain in high demand.
The autobahn is statistically safer and much more fun than the common interstate, but will we ever experience something like the autobahn in the United States?