The highest speed limit in the nation is under heavy gridlock.
Texas recently approved an 85 mph speed limit on a portion of toll road in southeast Austin. But many critics, including the American Trucking Association, have criticized the speed as being too fast to be safe.
Beginning this week, drivers are allowed to drop the hammer on 41 miles of toll road at 85 mph as an alternative to congested Texan traffic. The move provides relief from road rage and idling time, as well as cutting traveling time from San Antonio and Austin in half.
While the Texas Department of Transportation claims the new road poses no safety hazards, some have criticized the Texas DOT’s motives for increasing the speed limit.
The state has $100 million with its name on it for setting the new speed, as part of its agreement with the toll road’s contracting company.
While the state recognizes the potential of that kind of horsepower on the road, they note that driver safety is also a personal responsibility.
Alas, many people are concerned.
“Speeding is a big issue where we are not making progress,” the Governors Highway Association (GHA) noted. There was a 14% increase in trucking fatalities in 2011, which represented the “second consecutive year that counts have risen in this sector after reaching a series low in 2009,” according to the DOL. In addition 13,000 highway deaths were caused by speeding, according to the GHA.
What’s Fuel Got to Do With It?
There’s another group that is concerned with the big Texas speed: the American Trucking Association. It’s not rocket science as to why: the higher a vehicle’s speed, the more gasoline it burns. Thus, approving a fuel scorching highway is also burning a hole into trucking company’s pockets.
“A truck going 75 (mph) uses 27% more fuel than one going 65 (mph)." The higher the speed, the higher the fleet’s cost.
That has got the American Trucking Association speaking out and pressuring the Texas DOT to reverse its decision, as trucking companies do not allow their trucks to drive faster than 65 mph.
But that’s not the only reason the Association has reason to speak. “At the end of the day, excessive speed is the greatest threat to highway safety,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “And by giving motorists carte blanche to put the pedal to the metal, Texas is raising the risk of more crashes, as well as more severe crashes.”