Texans! Start Your Engines

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Well the exodus from Texas and its drought can proceed a little faster and Indianapolis may be a few miles closer now that the rural speed limit in the Lone Star state has been raised to 85 from the pokey 80. In a state where everything is bigger — and now faster — the good ladies and gentlemen of the legislature have seen fit to ignore the high price of gas and the need for highway safety for sake of  moving Texans around quicker.

State officials say the roads can accommodate the higher speeds. “We studied it,” said Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson. “These are parts of the state where higher speeds is a safe decision.” Some studies show drivers already are cruising at about 79 miles per hour on these vast expanses of Texas countryside mostly in the western part of the state.

 Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen offered this cautionary note,”You can repeal the speed limit law, but you can’t repeal the law of physics. People don’t survive crashes at these excessive speeds.”  

But as the folks down in Texas say, “A Cowboy is a man with guts and a Horse — and now a really fast car.”

Source: Business Insider

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

15 thoughts on “Texans! Start Your Engines

  1. Re: the lower fatality rate on German autobahns vs. U.S. interstate highways, the difference has nothing to do with quality of highways or vehicles, it’s that German drivers are smarter and taught how to drive fast. American drivers don’t understand simple concepts like checking rear-view mirrors frequently for overtaking traffic and signalling before changing lanes and yielding to overtaking traffic etc.

  2. Hey, that’s what this cesspool is all about… Killin folks faster so the state doesn’t have to take care of them….

  3. i drove through texas (I 20) in 1981 in a u-haul that was governed to run no more than 55 mph. as i recall it took about 2 1/2 days continuous driving to get from one side to the other.

    the faster you can get through that hell hole the better

    i do question how do you tell if you can drive the daytime speed or the nighttime speed. do you have to stop and hold up a white and black thread?

  4. raff,

    The Highways/ Freeways….designed since Nixon reduced the speed limits to 55 are not conducive to doing much more than 10 mph above the posted speed for about 90% of the vehicles…This general 80 in most areas is not conducive to road safety….

    As I had stated I drove through Kansas at 80/85 and some parts of the road could barely handle 70….and I have a new vehicle…not top heavy…

  5. I’ve been driving for 50 years, with an excellent driving record. I admit to being a street drag racer in my late teens and early 20’s. At one point I even had to drive stretch limos for about four months and I’ve driven all kinds of trucks. I’m a fast but courteous and defensive driver. All that being said I don’t like the idea of going above 90 and 85 is probably as fast as I go these days, when on a road with a 75mph speed limit. My reason is that although my cars are always in good shape and my tires well treaded, I simply don’t trust the problems any vehicle running at high speeds face, especially with the generally poor condition of American roads.

    As Raff said, the Interstates are in generally poor condition, at least in spots and at high speeds often these faults are not readily apparent. Sand, gravel and ice also must be taken into account. Tires, even good ones blow out and an A Frame busting (I’ve had that happen on a highway) can cause a loss of control. Most people know that if they keep themselves less than 10mph over the speed limit they won’t be stopped. At 95, the ability to to deal with sudden problems lessens greatly.

    Then too there is the NASCAR effect. I consider myself a very good driver and have avoided many dangerous situations through the years, but i know damn well that my skills fall below anyone who even drives in races semi-professionally. Too many NASCAR fan think themselves as good as their heroes and I really don’t appreciate being tailgated at 80 by some yokel who doesn’t understand that I’m keeping a safe distance behind the car in front of me.

    Finally, many drivers just don’t realize that their SUV’s and pickups have higher centers of gravity and are most generally harder to handle at high speed. I’m not against them raising the speed limit per se, but I don’t think i’d take advantage of it. That being said, put me on the Autobahn with a high end Mercedes, BMW or Porsche and its’ pedal to the medal. I think the Germans are much better than us in infrastructure and their cars are far better qualitatively than anything I can afford.

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  7. The problem that you have with most of the interestate roads is that they were not designed for these higher speeds and they are not in great condition. The Interstates here in Illinois are a patchwork quilt of old and new and potholes. Especially in the Northern sections where the winter is harder on them.

  8. This makes sense since the distances in Texas are so extreme. You can drive in one direction in Houston for one HOUR at 60 mph and never leave the city limits. It takes about 13 hrs of driving to get to El Paso from Houston at a high rate of speed with stops for fuel and food. When folks in El Paso want to go to the beach, they go to the Pacific since it is closer than the Gulf of Mexico.

    Do some math. A 5 mph difference over 13 hrs is 65 miles which at 60 mph is over one hour. Increase that to 10 mph and it is 130 miles, then go to 15 and 20 mph and the differences become major. When I was younger, I used to drive 200 miles for a beer when I lived in Texas and thought nothing of it. So to judge Texas or other western state by eastern standards is absurd. I too would be against raising the speed limit on highways in the east since the distances and traffic make it unnecessary and dangerous too.

  9. What are the statistics for the Autobahn?

    “The overall road traffic safety of German autobahns is comparable to and in some cases better than that of other European highways. According to the statistics collected by the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group,[9] there were 2.2 road user fatalities per billion vehicle kilometers on German autobahns in 2008. Neighboring countries with available data include Belgium (4.2 in 2007), the Netherlands (2.1 in 2009), Denmark (2.5), Austria (4.2), Switzerland (1.2), and France (1.8). Using the same statistic, 4.5 fatalities have occurred in the United States on motorways.”

    from wikipedia

    So the German highways where speeds are in excess of 80 mph have 1/2 the death rate that we have in the US. Apparently lower speed limits are not about highway safety but about the “high” price of oil. Which isnt so high accounting for inflation.

    I dont think the problem is with the speed limit or the roads but with the ability of the cars to do 85-90 mph. Some cars can do that no problem but others cannot. I would not do 90 or even 80 mph in a van no matter how good the roads are. But I would do 130 mph in a well made care on a straight flat road.

    Speed limits certainly have a place but the price of oil should not be a consideration. The consideration should be the road and the cars ability to perform at high speeds.

  10. Hope they don’t raise it between to Dallas and Austin as there is way too
    much traffic. The drought is really bad in Austin where I am. Going to the Rick Perry headquarters at 8th and Congress. He’s not here though. He is probably either in Iowa or South Carolina where is currently leading in the polls. Saw one poll where he was leading Obama. Maybe he will try to put an 80 mile speed limit in nationally.

  11. So long as the roads were not designed and implemented during the Nixon years, I do not see a problem….The problem come when you have a road designed for 55 and with the expectation that some people are going to exceed the speed limit by 10 to 15 MPH…you have no problem going 65 reasonably safe….add 25 MPH to that and you’ll have some problems coming….

    I recently drove through Kansas where the speed limit was 80…Some parts of the road need to be reduced to 70 for safety on the curves…

    mespo good post….But between Weatherford and El Paso there generally ain’t much but blowing sand…and about 15 gas stations…it can be 100 or more miles between them as well….

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