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Texas House Approves 85 Mph Speed Limits

April 8, 2011

The Texas House of Representatives approved a new speed limit law in the Lone Star State of 85 miles per hour.

The new law would allow the Texas Department of Transportation to establish a speed limit not to exceed 85 miles per hour on a part of a state highway system.

The proposal is a provision of a bill that would eliminate funding for an unpopular toll road project.

The 85 mph speed limit would be the highest posted speed limit in the U.S. and the second-highest posted speed limit in the world.  According to the European auto rental firm Rhino Car Hire, there is an 86 mph speed limit posted in Poland.

Texas and Utah are the only states that now allow speed limits of 80 miles per hour.  In 2006, 80 mph speed limit signs were posted on roads in two remote parts of west Texas.

One part is a 432-mile stretch of Interstate 10 and the other is an 89-mile stretch of Interstate 20.

In Utah there is an 80 mph speed limit posted on about 40 miles of Interstate 15.

Gary Biller, executive director of the Wisconsin-based National Motorists Association, told Reuters that higher speed limits are perfectly reasonable given the good quality of today’s highway construction.

“In Utah, after they adjusted from 75 to 80, nothing happened to the accident rate,” Biller said. “Actually, nothing happened to the average speed, either; it remained the same.”

Jerry Johns, President of the Southwest Insurance Information Institute, told Reuters that 85 mph is a bad idea.

“The two things that contribute most to traffic accidents are speed and alcohol,” he said.

“The higher the speed limit the more accidents there are, the more injuries, and the more deaths,” Johns said.

The Texas Department of Transportation would have to conduct engineering studies before any highway would be certified for an 85 mph speed limit.

“Should this or similar language become law, the agency would conduct extensive studies and analyses to determine safety and structural integrity before raising the speed limit on any particular highway in the state,” Penny Mason, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement.

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