Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Spain's government decided Tuesday to slow down legal speeds on its major rural roads, following a decision in Germany to reject limits on the famous Autobahn.
Spain cut the speed limit from 62 miles per hour to 56 mph, and will change about 2,700 road signs around the country to reflect the change, BBC News reported. Spain's RTVE reported major rural roads accounted for 80 percent of the country's fatal road accidents last year.
In 40 percent of those 877 accidents, one or two vehicles swung out of their lanes -- while more than a quarter were head-on collisions. The statistics suggest speed may have contributed to the crashes.
The feeling was different in Germany, the only European country without speed limits on its highways. Last week, German authorities refused to impose an 80 mph speed limit on the Autobahn. A government proposal on the idea had been leaked to news media.
Those in favor of speed limits argued they would reduce air pollution, help fight climate change and save lives in collisions.
"There are more intelligent control mechanisms than a general speed limit," government spokesman Steffen Seifert told reporters in Berlin about the potential positives.
While the Green Party came out in favor of the speed limit, Germany's transport minister Andreas Scheuer strongly pushed back, arguing that drivers' freedom to determine their own speed has worked for years.
A move by the French government to drop speed limits on rural roads, to 50 mph, helped spark the so-called "Yellow Vest" protest last year. Some protesters used it as an example of "urban elitism" by President Emmanuel Macron.