Our New 85 MPH Tollway – A Good Idea?

The Texas Transportation Commission has decided to increase the speed limit for a 41 mile portion of the new highway that goes from north of Austin to north of San Antonio. Remember that Sammy Hagar song, “I can’t drive 55?” It seems quaint now.

SH 130 will be one of the fastest highways in the world when it opens in November. People can only drive 84 m.p.h. on the world famous Autobahn.

The state was essentially bribed by Cintra, the huge private Spanish company, which paid $100 million for this extremely high speed limit. The current limit is 75 m.p.h. In exchange, the state was required to lower the speed limit on I-35 near the toll road to only 55 to encourage drivers to pay the toll — estimated at $8.00 or more.

Various groups have blasted the new road as being too dangerous. “The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He said higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, “but the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths.”

According to Texans for Public Justice, “private toll-road operators now offer the state an extra $33 million to win a reckless competitive advantage. Such cozy deals are unsafe at any speed.”

And a study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the higher speed limits adopted in the 1995 repeal of federal speed-limit controls had led to a 3.2% increase in road fatalities, so 12,500 more Americans have died on our highways in the 10 years after the repeal — six times the number of people who can sit in the Bass Hall.

Now I like to drive as fast as the next guy and get frustrated when I get stuck on I-35. But is it smart to encourage people to drive at 85 m.p.h.– and presumably higher? Nobody in our state government seems to be worried that 3,015 people were killed on our Texas roads last year at slower speeds.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle collision any where in the state of Texas, please contact me. I only handle these cases, unlike almost every other attorney in Texas. I’ve been representing injured victims for over 32 years. It’s what I do. I’ll fight to get you the money you deserve.

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