The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) now has the power to temporarily change speed limits due to hazardous weather or road construction without state approval, according to a new state law recently enacted in Texas.
Specifically, the new state law "allows variable speed limits to be used 'to address inclement weather, congestion, road construction, or any other condition that affects the safe and orderly movement on traffic on a roadway for which the commission has the authority to establish a speed limit'," according to KXAN News.
Texas House Bill 1885: variable speed limits on Texas roads
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed into law House Bill 1885, which gives TxDOT the power to change the speed limit on Texas roads right away to address emergency situations, such as hazardous weather, construction work, or particularly heavy traffic congestion.
Under the new law, "the temporary speed limit may only be reduced up to 10 miles per hour below the standard speed limit, in response to inclement weather conditions or roadway construction," KXAN News reported.
To change the speed limit on a road in Texas, the new temporary speed limit must be "posted not less than 500 feet but not more than 1,000 feet before the point at which the speed limit begins."
The law may help prevent speeding-related accidents
The introduction of the temporary speed limit law in Texas is primarily driven by a critical concern: addressing emergency situations where speeding frequently contributes to the occurrence of severe car accidents.
State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), who wrote House Bill 1885, said he believed if such a law had existed, deadly accidents like the 133-vehicle pile-up on I-35 West in February 2021, which left six people dead could have been prevented.
"That's an instance when we know there were conditions that led to a catastrophic pileup," Canales said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. "It was studied by the federal government and the national highway agency, and ultimately, their findings were that variable speed limits could have mitigated and completely prevented this accident from happening."
Speeding remains a big problem in Texas
The new Texas law addresses a long-standing problem in the state – car accidents caused by speeders. For years, Texas has had more speeding-related crashes than any other state in the nation. Between 2010 and 2019, Texas had more speeding-related car accident fatalities than any state, according to a 10-year traffic safety study.
In 2021, speeding drivers caused a record-high 1,568 car accident fatalities in Texas, according to accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That figure represents 34.8 percent of the 4,498 car accident deaths Texas experienced in 2021.
Similar statistics were reported in Texas last year. In 2022, about one-third of the 4,481 car accident fatalities and the 162,000 car accidents in the state involved speeding, per accident data from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Hold negligent drivers accountable with a Fort Worth car accident lawyer
When you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car accident due to someone else's negligence, seeking justice and holding the responsible party accountable for your losses is crucial. However, navigating the aftermath of a car crash in Texas can be overwhelming, especially when trying to deal with an insurance company that only cares about its profits.
That's where an experienced Fort Worth car accident lawyer like Coby L. Wooten can make a difference.
Coby L. Wooten, Attorney At Law, is dedicated to helping victims of car accidents in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas seek the compensation they deserve. With a strong commitment to protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests, Attorney Wooten and his dedicated legal team can help you find your way forward after a crash.
Whether your accident was caused by reckless driving, distracted behavior, or any form of negligence, our attorneys are prepared to fight tirelessly on your behalf. Contact us to learn how we can help you. We handle car accident injury claims and lawsuits throughout Texas.