Would you like to test your limits? You can, on a road with a high-speed limit. Let’s take on a tour of some of the fastest highways in the world…
There is something about speed that has compelled human-kind forever. Evolutionarily-speaking, humans have been fascinated by things that could go fast, like cheetahs, and today, we have the technology to break the limits. However, just because we can go remarkably fast, doesn’t mean that we’re allowed. Especially, when it comes to driving, we’re often confined to the speed limit. Behold, there are some exceptions…
The Stuart Highway is a remarkable highway that runs 2, 834 Km from one end of Australia to other, which connects Adelaide to Darwin. It could easily take between 3-4 days to make it from one city to the other on a road that travels right through the country’s outback. Since, Australia’s population is almost totally confined to its cities, the outback spans 6.5 million square kilometers, of an estimated 60 thousand inhabitants. That’s why the Stuart highway was for so long without a speed limit.
The only sign of civilized life, along the drive, is Alice Springs, which also happens to be home to half of the outback’s population. It’s also coined ‘the capital of the outback’. However, plenty of life exists along the desert drive. Like, you might come across the perentie which is a predator lizard or the famous red kangaroo. It is because of this wildlife that a speed limit was eventually introduced to the Stuart Highway in 2016.
Yet, cars could still go a pretty fast speed of 130 KPH, which according to some reports, was the around the average speed of the road anyway. In fact, just this year there was a report of a bull getting loose on the highway, not too far from Darwin, and drivers were asked to proceed with caution for the hour it took them to round the bull up. Incidents like this are why this super fast highway, is likely to continue to see speed restrictions in coming years.
4. US Route 50
Similar to the Stuart Highway, the US Route 50 is another road that runs straight through a continent’s desert landscape. Route 50 is a whopping 4, 856 km long and stretches from Ocean City, Maryland all the way down to West Sacramento, California. Life magazine declared, in 1986, that the section of highway running through Nevada was ‘America’s Loneliest Road’ and since then, then name has always stuck. They always stated that you needed survival skills to drive the desolate highway.
Spanning 461 kilometers, there’s little else aside from valleys and scenic landscape and apparently, you’ll drive half the day before seeing any other car. However, there are few small towns and some enforce the speed limit more than others. You’ll find warnings, like about the town of Fallon, which is just about 150 km east of the California-Nevada desert that tickets the 112 km speed limit heavily. Yet, moving further east along the 50, you’ll never run into a trooper.
Some say that this highway is great for meditation and looking inward, since the vastness of the desert really makes you feel totally alone. Apparently, you even have to map out your gas mileage. Like, after high ticket zone, town of Fallon, you have to go 180 km just to get to the next gas station. It’s called Middlegate Station and apparently it’s the only thing there. It’s run by just a handful of people and includes a sports bar and hotel.
3. A4 Autobahn
Poland has a pretty fast highway system, not limitless like Germany, but definitely above average. However, in Poland, highway is called, autobahn and a nice one to experience is the A4, which runs from east to west along the south end of Poland. You can legally drive up to 140 KPH all the way from the western German border to Ukraine’s border on the east.
The highway dates way back to the 1930’s, before the start of ww2 and the western parts of the road were actually built by the Germans. However, ‘the allies’, that includes Poland, won the war, so Poland’s borders expanded to include this roadway. The highway was notorious for being very poorly maintained once it became part of Poland’s territory and no one would have ever been able to drive it with speed. Of course, today you’d see little trace of the 1930’s road and the highway is in mint condition. Yet, the completion of the A4, so that it runs from border to border only happened in 2016 and it’s only the second completed highway in Poland.
While it might be tempting to go past the speed limit, on such a long stretch of highway, apparently Poland strictly enforces it and there are plenty of speed cameras in unexpected places. The biggest city, you’ll encounter is along the eastern stretch and is called, Rzeszów. There, you can go to the Town’s square that has many restaurants and bars and is also known for being a student hub. Also, just about an hour and a half south of Chrzanów, which is a town along the A4, there’s a mountain range, called Góra Zar that’s recommended for skiers in the winter months.
Usually, when people think of unlimited speed, they think of the German autobahns however the Irish also have an unlimited speedway. Rather it’s a whole Irish Island that has no upper national speed limit, called the Isle of Man. There are residential limits however most of the 572 Km² is open highway, amidst beautiful ocean side and mountainous scenery. People can go as fast as they want and cops will only pull over reckless drivers.
Of course, such a special island does not go without a famous annual race. Some say, it’s the deadliest on the planet. It’s called Tourist Trophy (TT) and has killed racers and spectators every year, since 1907. Each year is more dangerous than the last, since the 60.67 Km track never evolved any safety features, like runoff zones and soft landings, yet the motorcycles drive faster with each passing race. There’s virtually nothing separating spectators, just feet away, from motorcyclists, who approach 321 KPH. Racer, Richard Quayle, explained it like this, “If Rodger Federer misses a shot, he loses a point. If I miss an apex, I lose my life”. Just last year, three riders died and again two more died, just this past june 2018, which was also the 100th running of the race. Since 1911, 252 riders have died.
John McGuinness, a 23-time Isle of Man TT winner got into such a bad accident in 2017, he had to completely skip 2018’s race. He suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg, four broken vertebrae, and three broken ribs however he’s also the same person that was quoted saying, “We all know that we accept the risks. Maybe we’re a bunch of hard-nosed bastards”. So, anyone who loves to speed, especially on a motorbike, will find no better place than the Isle of Man.
German autobahns are super famous, since they have no speed limit. The start of the autobahns is from the 1930’s, about the time of ww2. Adolf Hitler decided that it’d be a good idea to have a very good road network of super-highways for war times and also, the construction brought about many new jobs for a depressed economy.
Apparently, the autobahn consists of about 13, 000 km of road network. It’s almost entirely without speed limit except for some very dangerous areas or parts that run through towns. The speed limits tend to remain pretty fast, like 120-130 KPH.
For anyone who’s new to Germany’s autobahn, may not be familiar with the dos and don’ts. Americans typically love to drive in the left lane, even if they aren’t going particularly fast, however on the autobahn this is incredibly dangerous. Sometimes, drivers will cruise the left-lane at speeds, in excess of 200 KPH, so hugging that left-lane for longer than is necessary, is just asking for an accident. Another ‘do’ is to check and then double-check the side-view mirror, since it’s crucial to catching an on-coming speedster, before making a lane-change. It’s also helpful to know that the autobahns don’t post the direction that you’re travelling outright however, there will be signs for upcoming towns and any even-numbered highways go east-west, whereas odd-numbers indicate, north-south.
So, if you feel the need for speed, it’s always a good idea to explore that on a highway that accommodates doing so, like the Stuart Highway, US Route 50, A4 Autobahn, the Isle of Man, and the German Autobahns. Whether, you remain confined to a generous speed limit or there is none at all, bottom-line is that you’ll be able to go fast. Hopefully, you have a powerful car to get the most out of the experience.