As Texas' first 85 mile-per-hour highway makes its debut, not everyone is on board with the new road, which now has the highest regulated speed limit in the United States. According to critics, the 40-mile stretch of road could be a dangerous highway that leads to even faster and more rampant speeding than is already seen on other state highways.
Increased highway speed limits have become common practice in Texas, which has increased speed limits to 75 or 80 miles per hour on almost 6,500 miles of highway. This has been done despite warnings from safety experts that an increase in roadway fatalities is likely to occur and despite the fact that Texas already has a high traffic fatality rate compared with other states.
In regard to the 85 mile-per-hour speed limit, state officials say they aren't worried about an increase in highway deaths, indicating that data shows previous speed limit increases across the state did not produce catastrophic results.
But it's unclear how motorists will respond to driving at these higher speeds. Officials say they are working on finding ways to help improve driving habits among the general public, but with little experience driving at 85 miles-per-hour, some motorists may not have the skills to handle certain hazard situations as they arise.
Furthermore, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has publicly disapproved of the state's methods for determining which highways are eligible for a speed limit increase.
It's believed by some that state revenue is perhaps playing into the decision to increase speed limits. For example, the new 85-mile-per-hour road was built by a developer who owns the rights to the toll revenues for the next 50 years. The cost: $1.4 billion. And to sweeten the deal, the company paid the state of Texas $100 million to increase the speed limit to 85 miles-per-hour.
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This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The Star-Telegram, "Is Texas ready for 85-mph speed limit?," Gordon Dickson, Oct. 22, 2012