Safety Groups Say New Texas 85 MPH Speed Limit Too Dangerous
Texas drivers who frequent a stretch of road just outside of Austin will soon be able to drive the highest speed limit allowed in the U.S. The Texas Department of Transportation recently authorized a new 85 mph speed limit for a portion of State Highway 130 due to be implemented this November. Safety advocates, however, are worried about the potentials for Austin auto accidents as a result of the new speed.
On Aug 30, the Texas Transportation Commission approved the 85 mph speed limit for Segments 5 and 6 of State Highway 130. However, safety officials, including the American Trucking Association and the Governors Highway Safety Association, argue that an 85 mph speed limit is simply too dangerous.
According to Bill Graves, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association, "Higher speeds dramatically increase the risks of a catastrophic crash. On today's busy and congested highways, it is simply unfathomable that a state would allow drivers to put themselves and others at risk by increasing speed limits to such excessive heights," he argues.
The two groups are demanding that TTC reverse its decision.
However, both TxDOT and the State Highway 130 Concession Company claim that the new 85 mph limit is safe for driving on the roads designated because of the lay of the land. "If you look at the topography, the geography and the engineering of the roadway, you can see how an 85 mph speed limit could be supported," said TxDOT spokesman Bob Kaufman.
After reviewing the research on the impact of the speed limit, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute argues that, "A cause-and-effect relationship between speed limits and safety is not straightforward. The relationship among speed limits, driver speed choice, and safety on a given road is complex."
It remains to be seen what will become of the new law. Although some officials are taking proactive measures to ensure the law is reversed. Both the Caldwell County Commissioners and the Lockhart City Council have passed resolutions calling on TxDOT to return the U.S. 130 speed limit to 65 mph and offer a discounted toll rate for Caldwell County residents that have to commute to jobs in Travis County.
According to Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn, the law will not stand. "I think public opinion is going to change it," he says.
Source: San Marcos Mercury, Critics question plan for 85 mph speed limit on Texas 130, Sept 12, 2012