Prior to 1995, the federal government controlled the national maximum speed limit applicable on interstate highways. Under the law, the speed limit on interstates could not exceed 55 miles per hour. The law setting the maximum limit was repealed in 1995 and states had the opportunity to set higher limits both on interstate highways as well as on local roadways. Many states took advantage of this opportunity, and Texas embraced it wholeheartedly.
A personal injury lawyer knows that when a car is going faster, drivers and passengers are more likely to be seriously hurt if the vehicle is involved in a collision. Driving faster can also increase the chances that a motorist will lose control of the car, and can increase the amount of time it takes a car to stop when the driver puts on the brakes. Unfortunately, this means that when it raised the speed limit, the state of Texas made the roads less safe.
Is the Speed Limit Too High in Texas?
After the states were given authority to change the speed limit, 35 states raised their maximum highway speed from 55 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour. Some states went further. Texas is among six states that have set maximum speed limits of 75 miles per hour on urban interstates. Urban interstates are defined as roads that travel through built-up areas with populations of 50,000 or more or that travel through population centers or densely populated incorporated areas with at least 2,500 people.
The six states with urban interstates that set maximum speeds of 75 miles per hour include Texas, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Maine.
Texas has gone even further on state highways and on rural roads. There are many state highways that have maximum speed limits of 80 miles per hour and there are rural roads that have speed limits of 85 miles per higher. No other place in the entire country has speed limits that are this high, according to the Washington Post.
The fact that Texas has the highest speed limits in the nation is a dubious honor, because statistics have shown that higher limits can increase fatalities. A report was published in 2009 comparing fatalities that occurred in 1995 before the maximum national speed limit was repealed with fatalities from collisions in 2005 after the speed limits were higher in many places.
Between 1995 and 2005, the use of seat belts and child safety seats increased and laws requiring dual front air bags were passed, so it would be logical to assume that fatalities would decline. In states that did not set higher maximum speed limits, the death toll did go down. However, in states where the speed limit was raised, the number of motor vehicle collision deaths went up.
While Texas is not likely to reverse the trend of having high speed limits, the fact remains that this policy choice may be costing people their lives on Texas roads.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Dallas, contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit http://www.cobywootenlaw.com.