On Wednesday some Texas drivers will get an opportunity to text the limits of their high-speed driving skills when the nation’s first roadway with an 85 mph limit will officially open for business.
That’s right, 85 mph.
Drivers on a 40-mile stretch of the Texas 130 toll road bypassing Austin’s east side will open with an 85-mph speed limit this week. Many eyes will be turned toward Texas over the next few weeks as traffic safety experts look to see how well drivers handle the new limit. If it works as well as the Texas Department of Transportation hopes it will when it comes to alleviating traffic congestion in the area it seems likely speed limits in other areas, on other roads, will also be raised.
The idea of setting a toll road speed limit higher than the national average (some roads in Montana have a limit of 80 mph) was heavily debated. The idea was to offer drivers a direct by-pass route with a higher speed limit and help offset the cost of this roadway by making it a toll road. Initially hopes were high that the new road would be an instant money-maker for the state, but opinions since then have been decidedly mixed. Truckers, for one, have said they would have little interest in paying to use the new road because the time they would save would hardly offset the costs they would incur as a result.
Traffic safety experts, too, have questioned whether allowing drivers to travel at such high rates of speed is a good idea. Although much has been said about the dangers of distracted driving and drinking and driving, just about every fatal vehicle collision on record had the drivers speed as a contributing factor.
If speed kills, and we know that it does, then it seems the new Texas toll road is starting out with one strike against it.