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Texas Set to Open 85 MPH Highway

85 MPH Highway

Texas is going to be home to the fastest road in America, at least outside of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The Texas Transportation Commission has raised the speed limit to 85 mph on 41 newly built miles of Texas 130.  This is the Lone Star State’s first public-private toll road which should open in November.  The road is actually two segments of Texas’ Route 130, segments five and six to be exact, which runs from Mustang Ridge, a suburb outside of Austin, to Interstate 10 at Seguin, near San Antonio.  It will only take 29 minutes for drivers to get from one end of the road to the other when driving the speed limit.

Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the non-partisan Eno Center for Transportation says other states are most likely to hike speed limits on toll roads because federal funding for free roads is drying up and this toll way system gives the opportunity to offer premium services on the roads.

Texas has already has some of the highest speed limits in the country.  But will this new 85 mph speed limit cost more lives to serious car crashes?  Safety advocates are worried that the new speed limit will be an invitation for motorists to drive even faster.  Justin McNaull of AAA states that, “As you increase travel speeds of vehicles, you increase the energy involved in crashes, which means you have more injuries and more deaths when crashes happen.”

But according to John Bowman of the National Motorists Association, which advocates for higher speed limits, it is possible to safely raise speed limits on highways as long as engineering studies have shown that the road can handle such an increase.  Veronica Beyer, the spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation ensures us that the new Texas toll road was designed and tested for high-speed travel, and that safety is the top priority.

As a Kentucky personal injury attorney I can understand this, but I am not sure they have thought about the human factors involved:

  • The thrill of speed and driving faster than the speed limit;
  • A few drinks became involved;
  • The ever present, distracted driver; and
  • Fatigue

These are just a few.  I enjoy the thrill of speed, but are our highways the best place for this?  I hope I am wrong but I see car crashes as a result of the higher speed limit.  Do you think we can be safe drivers at this higher speed?

 

About the author: Mike Schafer

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