By Colin Bird on April 8, 2011
The Texas House of Representatives has approved a bill that would raise the speed limit to 85 mph on some highways. If approved by the state’s Senate, which the chamber is considering, Texas would have the highest speed limits in the nation.
Texas currently has more than 520 miles of interstate highways where the speed limit is 80 mph, according to the Associated Press. The bill would allow the Texas Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on certain roads or lanes after engineering and traffic studies are conducted. The 85 mph maximum would likely be permitted on rural roads with long sightlines.
Some car insurers, however, oppose the bill. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, high speeds were a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes in 2009. The faster you’re traveling the greater the distance needed to bring your vehicle to a complete stop and the longer it takes a driver to react to emergency situations, according to IIHS. If an accident does occur at a higher speed, there is a strong likelihood that the crash impact will exceed the protection available to vehicle occupants.
On top of safety concerns, speeding increases fuel consumption. Every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the mid-1990s, the federal government deregulated national highway speed-limit standards, allowing states to set up their own speed limits. Before the reform, all states had adopted a 55 mph speed limit by 1974 to keep federal highway funding, with some rural areas able to travel up to 65 mph since 1987.
Since then, 33 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph or higher on some portions of their roads. Texas and Utah have the highest speed limits of 80 mph on specified segments of rural interstates, according to IIHS.
85 mph on some Texas roads gets first OK (Statesman, via Autoblog)