Texas Sets 85 mph Speed Limit
This is good news from Texas and good news for sensible drivers.
It’s been talked about for several months, but finally the Texas Transportation Commission has approved a speed limit of 85 mph along a 41-mile stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio. This will be the highest speed limit in the U.S. and is even faster than maximum speed limits in Europe, aside from stretches of the German autobahn that still have no speed limit.
However, as is always the case naysayers immediately started decrying the realistic 85 mph speed limit with comments such as this in USA Today: “The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
It’s a shame the media does not quote the other side of this argument. I quickly found an official DOT-sponsored government paper that describes the phenomena that raising or lowering speed limits does not significantly affect the speed of traffic and that accident rates can decline when limits are raised. Part of the reason for preparing the 166-page study was, as it says in the foreword, “because of the controversial nature of the subject of changing speed limits, and because the results are somewhat contrary to what many expect when speed limits are raised or lowered…”
The National Motorists Association has been a proponent of setting sensible speed limits for many decades. In its weekly newsletter last week it referenced an interesting discussion on Radio Health Journal about speed limits that you can listen to here to learn more.
I might be wrong, but anecdotally, it does seem that more local governments are realizing that higher speed limits do not necessarily result in an increase in accidents. Sadly, even if a correctly set (85th percentile) higher speed limit might be safer, they still keep the lower limit to maintain the revenue flow from motorists caught going over the posted limit.
Let’s hope other states follow Texas’ lead and start raising speed limits in places where they are set too low.
- Texas Considering 85-mph Speed Limit
- UK to Trial 80 mph Highway Speed Limit