According to a story by Reuters, a bill that has been passed in the Texas House of Representatives would allow drivers to cruise along stretches of the state highway system at 85 mph. Really, 85?
In some states, people are complaining that traffic is already too fast at 65, and Texas wants to give everyone a license to travel along some of its roads at nearly breakneck speed. According to the article, 85 would likely be the second-fastest limit in the world, just behind an 86 mph limit in Poland.
The article quotes Gary Biller, executive director of the National Motorists Association as saying that higher speed limits are OK given the quality of modern highway construction. I guess he hasn’t driven much on our highway.
“The two things that contribute most to traffic accidents are speed and alcohol,” Jerry Johns, president of the Southwest Insurance Information Institute, told Reuters. “The higher the speed limit, the more accidents there are, the more injuries, and the more deaths.”
The bill, HBO1201, would require the Texas Dept. of Transportation to conduct engineering studies before raising the limit on any road. There are some roads in Texas that already have an 80 mph limit.
What this legislation apparently doesn’t address is the dangers driving 85 will create. Many people will never drive that fast. Many trucking companies have speed limiters on their trucks capped at 60, 62, or 65 mph. Allowing traffic on the same road with that much disparity in speeds seems like a recipe for death, even if the road is structurally capable of supporting it.
The bill states that the speed limit can only be set on roads whose “construction of that part of the highway system is completed on or after June 1, 2011. The provision was included in a bill that would repeal the plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor, a 4,000-mile highway system across the state.