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Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the germany-chuckles dept.

Transportation 992

Hugh Pickens writes "Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, while some highways in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits. All that is about to change as Texas opens a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country, giving eager drivers a chance to rip through a trip between two of the state's largest metropolitan areas at 85 mph for a 41-mile toll road between Austin and San Antonio. While some drivers will want to test their horsepower and radar detectors, others are asking if safety is taking a backseat. A 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to increases in speed limits on all kinds of roads and that rural highways showed a 9.1 percent increase in fatalities on roads where speed limits were raised. 'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,' says Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. 'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"

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Yeah but... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261275)

It's in texas.

So. There's that.

Re:Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261431)

I've driven where it's posted at 80 in Utah, a lonely stretch of nothing between Nephi and Cedar City.
So there.

Re:Yeah but... (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41261571)

It's in texas.

So. There's that.

It's Darwinism in action, but don't expect them to put that in the school books.

Nothing new (5, Informative)

orthancstone (665890) | about 2 years ago | (#41261311)

"We could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour."

Hate to break it to Sandra, but that's the usual speed in many parts of Texas.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261365)

agreed... also... Darwinism.

there is basically nothing on farm roads in texas. Between houston and dallas... there is like 2 of the 4 hrs where its just _you_ on the road.

Re:Nothing new (4, Insightful)

countach74 (2484150) | about 2 years ago | (#41261693)

Not necessarily. The problem with speed limits is they do not take into consideration the vehicle that's being driven, the vehicle's tires, or other various factors that contribute to the safety of those speeds.

I agree that it increases the potential for Darwinism, but just because one drives at 90-100 MPH on the freeway does not necessarily mean that he or she is driving any more risky than someone driving at 60. Those of us who value our own (and our family's) well being don't drive based entirely on the speed limit. In certain conditions, I drive much slower than the speed limit because that's what's wise. It would be nice if I were also allowed to drive faster when safe.. you know, to make up for the times that I had to drive slower.

Ultimately, I feel the real problem is that people have been trained to rely on the government to tell them what's right and wrong, what's safe and what's dangerous. It's total bullshit.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261411)

I am from Amarillo, and frequently travel to Dallas and Houston areas, and I can vouch for this. 100mph is common on interstates, especially inside the major cities.

Re:Nothing new (5, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41261437)

Hate to break it to Sandra, but that's the usual speed in many parts of Texas.

As well as Wyoming, only state where I have been passed while going over 100mph.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261563)

and a 79mph in a 55mph zone nets you a ticket of...about $70. Been there, done that, paid the ticket. Would have been far more expensive in Oregon (again, done that...)

Re:Nothing new (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41261605)

and a 79mph in a 55mph zone nets you a ticket of...about $70. Been there, done that, paid the ticket. Would have been far more expensive in Oregon (again, done that...)

$70 ticket, but when your insurance company gets wind of it ... bit more, I s'pect

Re:Nothing new (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261679)

As well as Wyoming, only state where I have been passed while going over 100mph.

Sorry about that, but we had to get Mr. Cheney's hunting partner to the hospital ASAP.

Re:Nothing new (1)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#41261445)

"We could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour."

She could buy some peril-sensitive sunglasses.

Re:Nothing new (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41261649)

"We could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour."

She could buy some peril-sensitive sunglasses.

Just wrap a towel around your eyes and drive.

just don't try Bistromathics in Texas, they carry guns into diners which throws the entire equation out of whack

Re:Nothing new (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261615)

Perhaps we should eliminate speed limits all together. The only thing speed limits serve to do is generate a victimless crime that puts revenue in the governments pockets. Hold people liable for the damage they do and let peoples fear of high insurance rates keep them conservative. I would venture than 90% of all speeding tickets are issued to drivers who were being perfectly safe (going 10-20 MPH over the limit on an empty highway is safe).

Eliminate right-of-way and remove all 'stop signs' and drivers will be forced to 'make eye contact' with other drivers instead of 'assuming' that the other guy will stop simply because 'its the law' and 'there is a sign'.

It has been demonstrated in towns in Europe that when most road signs are removed the 'spontaneous order' results in fewer accidents.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261677)

They are teasing you to drive fast, but it is a trap.

This stretch of road is probably going to be littered with so many speed cameras that as soon as they hit 86 they will get a fine.

The toll-road will pay for itself in no time from all the speeding fines, that the actual revenue generated from tolls would be insignificant.

Rest of the world already ahead (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261319)

Well, that's 136km/h - that's what our recommended travelling speed (130) on the "Autobahn" is in Germany.
It has proven to be an excellent balance between emission (gears and cars are tuned to that speed), moving forward, but not braking too much due to other people's influences.

Once again I have deep mis-respect for you "best country in the world" guys.

Apples and Oranges (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261489)

I've seen Autobahn drivers - they're mostly courtious, follow the rules, and usually don't do anything stupid.

Here we're talking about Americans - specifically Texans. Expect to see many many shoot outs, accidents, law suits and fatalities.

Re:Apples and Oranges (3, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 2 years ago | (#41261575)

Ehhh sorry, I have lived for nearly 20 years here and I would like to ask where these courtious, follow the rules and don't try to do anything stupid drivers are. You see I have a car that can, and have driven 250 KPH. Let me tell you there are more idiots out there than you let on. I can't tell you how often I have to slow down from 230 to 120 because a driver feels he has the right to a pass a truck doing 80. Yes folks trucks are allowed a maximum of 80.

You can drive safely at high speeds if people realize that you are driving at highspeeds and I will argue that even Americans clue into it.

Re:Apples and Oranges (5, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41261699)

When I was stationed in (middle-of-nowhere) Texas in 1987--8, the drivers were courteous to a fault, and pulling over onto the (fully paved) shoulder to allow a faster car overtaking one was the norm.

Re:Rest of the world already ahead (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261499)

The Autobahn is built and maintained to standards that the U.S. Interstate Highway System is not willing to pay for. The asphalt is twice as thick, for one thing. I've seen a video of an Autobahn construction crew and they were using a laser-level on poured concrete. That kind of thing doesn't happen with an American road crew.

Re:Rest of the world already ahead (5, Informative)

repvik (96666) | about 2 years ago | (#41261519)

And autobahn is one of the safest highways as well:

Traffic zooms by on the German autobahn at 120 mph. The speed-limitless highway system stretches 6,800 miles and the Federal Ministry of Transport has declared the autobahn to be one of the safest road systems in the world despite the roaring, high speeds. US highways, on the other hand, rank as one of the most dangerous where speed limits range from 55 to 75 mph. Strict laws are believed to be the prominent reason the autobahn is safer than US highways.

http://www.ehow.com/about_6726960_autobahn-safety-vs_-interstate-safety.html [ehow.com]

Re:Rest of the world already ahead (2, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 2 years ago | (#41261689)

ROTFL yeah that ehow article is really accurate NOT...

Let's start taking the arguments apart:

The speed cameras are not impossible to spot. Actually dead easy and with trapster even easier. You just have to know what you are looking for.

Drivers follow a strict... ROTFL, yeah right! Drivers tend to follow the rules, but not always. In fact the biggest problem right now is that everybody drives in the left lane even though you are supposed to let faster traffic through.

You are required to put on a yellow vest: Really? News for me. I have yet to see anybody carrying that. I know in Italy they will fine you if you don't have one. But in nearly 20 years of driving I can honestly say I don't have a yellow vest. The triangle, yeah that is common.

You can stop on the side of the autobahn, and people do stop on the side of the autobahn if they have to.

Germans take pride in their car. Let's rephrase this. Some Germans take pride in their car. While there are no clunkers or whitetrash cars, there are cars that are very old. Though I do have agree European cars have better maintenance records since it is required by law.

Re:Rest of the world already ahead (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41261573)

Well, that's 136km/h - that's what our recommended travelling speed (130) on the "Autobahn" is in Germany. It has proven to be an excellent balance between emission (gears and cars are tuned to that speed), moving forward, but not braking too much due to other people's influences.

Once again I have deep mis-respect for you "best country in the world" guys.

From Expatica: [expatica.com]

The worst case Führeschein scenario is having to take a full driving course, like young German drivers do. "To get a regular driver's license," Christine explains, "you have to take 14 theory classes and at least 12 driving lessons. Driving schools usually offer them twice a week, so that takes about seven weeks. Depending on how quickly you learn, it can be done in about three months; but it usually takes longer, because of holidays and so forth. You start with the classroom sessions, and then move on to the driving portion, taking them in parallel so you learn the rules and also how to apply them." How many driving lessons you'll need to take depends on how quickly you learn. With 12 as the minimum, and 50 on the high end, the full licensing course can cost between EUR 1000-2000.

Compare that to getting a license in the US:
- @ 15.5 yrs, take lame written exam
- @ 16 yrs, take lame driving "test" where you drive a couple laps around the city square or a big empty parking lot, then parallel park

That is pretty much all the training most US drivers get, which may explain why we have significantly higher accident rates than Germany, even with lower speed limits on highways.

Re:Rest of the world already ahead (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261653)

I understand this is just culturally insecure America bashing, but since when was Germany considered the 'rest of the world'?

Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261327)

'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour'

I used to drive from Houston to San Antonio (and back) a lot. Most of the time the speed limit is 70 mph, but that never stopped people from going 95 to 100 mph. If anything, raising the speed limit to 85 will put most people closer to the speed that the maniacs drive at. The real problem will be the Sunday drivers who decide to drive at 65 mph in the left lane while everyone is trying to whiz around them.

Only 85 mph? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261329)

I do that already on the highways. While the article was short on pictures, wouldn't making the highway divided be safer then keeping the speed limit low?

It's an Effing Toll Road (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41261331)

Don't like the higher speed limit? Don't drive on it.

Doesn't get any simpler than that.

Re:It's an Effing Toll Road (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261523)

Sure, in crowded cities when there's multiple routes, that's fine, but out in the countryside, there's often two ways to get there: interstate or dirt road. So "don't drive on it" amounts to "don't take that trip." That's not an option for everyone.

Now, if America had a rail system worth anything that provided a reasonable alternative, then you'd have more of a point. There might be a bus that runs that route, but chances are, it's not really a reasonable alternative--limited times, doesn't run on certain days, etc.

Re:It's an Effing Toll Road (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41261621)

This is between crowded cities with non-toll options.

Re:It's an Effing Toll Road (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261553)

This. A million times this. I am SO sick and tired of people citing risk as a reason NOT to do something. I control my own body and my own mind and I and ONLY I should be the one to decide what I do and when I do it. If I want to drive 150 mph on a fucking toll highway in my car [motortopia.com] , why shouldn't I? I am a way better driver than anyone else on the road, and even with 'excessive' speed I can avoid accidents just by using COMMON SENSE (which no one else seems to have any more).

Re:It's an Effing Toll Road (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41261607)

Don't like the higher speed limit? Don't drive on it.

Doesn't get any simpler than that.

Technically, the limit specifies a CEILING, not a floor speed. So just because the speed limit is 85mph, doesn't mean you HAVE to do 85mph. There probably is a minimum speed you must maintain, but you're free to choose any speed in-between.

Just try to stick to the right hand lane to let faster traffic pass. And if you're on the cellphone doing whatever, you're slower traffic (why is it that cellphone users always seem to be the cause of congestion? I mean, when you finally pass the car that's holding up traffic, it's because the driver is invariably texting or having the phone glued to their ear... If you can pass them. They weave in and out of lanes even worse than drunk drivers, stop suddenly and fail to observe the light has turned green...).

Finally, a decent speed limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261335)

Parts of I-15 in southern Utah are 80 MPH. It really makes sense to bring that up to 85 MPH too. I've driven that stretch and I don't see much reason to artificially limit the rest of it to something lower. Most people go 85-90 anyway through the parts with lower speed limits, but I really think 85 makes sense.

I don't think the actual speed would increase all that much. A few of the speed-limit-abiding citizens might increase their speed now, but on the whole I don't think people will speed much more than that. Everyone tends to find a safe cruising speed, and the Utah sections would probably end up being right about 85 MPH.

Good for Texas for doing this.

let me be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261347)

yeehaw!

And the "think of the accidents" crowd can fuck off. If increasing the limit from 75 to 85 causes $x deaths, then leaving the speed limit at 75 also causes $y deaths vs 65. In fact, if you follow their logic, the speed limit would be 5 mph, if that. But only while wearing a flame retardent balloon suit and crash helmet.

Re:let me be the first to say... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 2 years ago | (#41261505)

But only while wearing a flame retardent balloon suit and crash helmet.

Don't forget the HANS device.

Re:let me be the first to say... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261527)

What price is a life saved? If 55 keeps people alive, then it should be a national mandate.

Don't worry, evolution will fix it (0)

xlyz (695304) | about 2 years ago | (#41261355)

just let Darwin [darwinawards.com] do his work!

Re:Don't worry, evolution will fix it (2)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#41261413)

What, in TEXAS? If anything, he can be blamed (he's the devil) there.

Re:Don't worry, evolution will fix it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261643)

or a minority

Here's a safety tip: (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#41261373)

With a speed limit of 10mph, you can virtually eliminate car related deaths on highways!

Re:Here's a safety tip: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261451)

To hell with that. Walk you suckers. No cars? No car related deaths!

Re:Here's a safety tip: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261495)

It is not the speed that kills. You can drive fast, but if you keep your safe distance to the car in front of you and
pay attention to the road you will be mostly safe.

Re:Here's a safety tip: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261513)

So Cal has freeways with effective speed limits of 10mph.
Lots of rage at that speed.

Re:Here's a safety tip: (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41261529)

With a speed limit of 10mph, you can virtually eliminate car related deaths on highways!

You're forgetting something. At 10 mph, driving through Texas would kill people either from boredom or old age.

Re:Here's a safety tip: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261549)

With a speed limit of 10mph, you can virtually eliminate car related deaths on highways!

I could only wish to travel a such a high speed during rush hour in southern California.

Re:Here's a safety tip: (1)

BeerAndLoathing (810465) | about 2 years ago | (#41261587)

No, if you drive 10mph on a highway in Texas your life expectancy is going to plummet

Re:Here's a safety tip: (3, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#41261593)

To get to the absurd velocity you suggest we're going to have to change the gearing on that NASA crawler-transporter a few stories down.

It's all about trade-offs and priorities (1)

Meshach (578918) | about 2 years ago | (#41261393)

What are the percent increases in fatalities? Twelve thousand is a small portion if a million people use the highway per year. I guess for most people the risk of an accident does not jump up enough to warrant slowing down.

Re:It's all about trade-offs and priorities (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#41261667)

I'd be willing to bet that fatalities correlates at least as well with speed differences as it does with absolute speeds. Raising the limit could easily see the slowest speed on the road move closer to the highest speed on the road, resulting in fewer accidents. Imagine how few accidents there could be if everyone went exactly 85 mph, with only small and temporary changes to let cars merge on and off.

Roads...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261395)

That is only 3 MPH fro time travel!

Autobahn (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261397)

The sad fact is that its not speed that kills, its differential speed. Unfortunately our drivers training here is not really up to the standards it should be with modern machines. If you look at Germany they take drivers ed a lot more seriously, as well as licencing, with 6 month courses costing thousands of dollars being the norm. As well the rules of the Autobahn are strictly enforced, if you're going slow in the left lane you WILL be pulled over, just as quick if not quicker than you would for "speeding". Same with sudden lane changes, and just general bad driving. Speed doesnt kill, dumb drivers do.

Re:Autobahn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261565)

My truck's tires will blow out if I push the speed much over 80 on a rough road. They're D or C-class I think. They don't make tires in my size that would allow me to drive the speed limit on that road. To give you an idea of the design limitations of my truck, the speedometer only goes up to 100.

I would imagine that a lot of accidents at those speeds are caused when people in passenger sedans and sports cars try to pass people in work vehicles with governers, slow gearing, or low design speeds.

Re:Autobahn (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41261597)

The sad fact is that its not speed that kills, its differential speed.

Technically, its energy transfer, disruption of tissue, and blood loss. But, other aspects of the regulatory and transit context remaining constant, higher highway speed limits -> more differential speed -> more collisions producing energy transfer, tissue disruption, etc.

If you look at Germany they take drivers ed a lot more seriously, as well as licencing, with 6 month courses costing thousands of dollars being the norm.

Well, yeah, better driving training, more selective admission criteria for the driving club, and more transit options so that people don't need to drive as much (all of which Germany -- and lots of other places -- have compared to the US) can all mitigate the increased danger of higher-speed driving.

But I don't see evidence that Texas is adopting those along with the raised speed limit, so that observation is irrelevant, or at least tangential to the immediate issue.

Re:Autobahn (1)

tippe (1136385) | about 2 years ago | (#41261611)

The sad fact is that its not speed that kills, its differential speed.

Which amounts to the same thing, if you're comparing the velocity of a vehicle to that of a guardrail, stopped car, etc. Just sayin'

weee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261403)

People drive this fast now.... :) IF not faster!

Enforcer Nonsense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261405)

>'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'
The lethality of crashes plateaus at a whopping 45 miles per hour.
The only people against higher speed limits are the Police and Local Cities/Counties that don't want to lose out on revenue.
Even the insurance companies aren't really against it, they just got a gift wrapped excuse for rate hikes for a whole state.

Eh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261415)

I am sure there are slower and non-toll ways to get from Austin to San Antonio. Let Texans be Texans, Yeee Haaa! lol.

We need that on Rt. 95 all the way from ME to FL.

Autobahn (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#41261419)

The German Autobahn's have no speed limits in rural areas. I have driven at 160 Kph (i.e., 100 mph) and been routinely passed by faster vehicles. In fact, if you are in the left lane at that speed, they may get pretty annoyed with you if you don't get over immediately.

My understanding is that the German Auto Club serves a function much like the US NRA. Touch the speed limit, and your political career will be limited.

Re:Autobahn (1)

maxdread (1769548) | about 2 years ago | (#41261493)

Forget being annoyed, this is a law that simply needs to be enforced more in the US especially on highways with higher speed limits. If you can't keep up with the flow of traffic, stick to the traditionally slower lanes or risk getting ticketed.

TEXAS (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | about 2 years ago | (#41261421)

This is entirely in keeping with my home state of Texas. It's fitting that they did it in Austin, I'm sure all those drunk Texas good ole boys in the legislature enjoy the idea of driving their F150 pickups and Cadillacs at 95mph up the new highway. It's in the same league as the Molly Ivins story about the representative who got a rest area approved on a highway outside his home district so that he could change his patent leather shoes before arriving home. Couldn't let his constituents see him in his fancy duds. They know this means more highway deaths. You can also have a concealed hand as you drive 85 up the new highway. TEXAS!

Re:TEXAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261683)

Note that it's a toll road. Rick Perry has been big on toll roads. I could swear he was somehow indirectly profiting off of the Spanish company that administers them, but I've since been able to find the article that gave evidence suggested such. I can only hope there was some actual construction involved in this toll road, and that they didn't just steal a decades-old existing highway (like they did 183 and 45 in Austin) and "finish it" by adding toll booths.

The whole idea of a toll road is to collect money from people who use your state's roads without either paying property taxes (because they live there) or income taxes (because they work there). It's meant to cover people who, say, just cut across a corner of New York on their daily commute. That makes no damn sense in Texas. Almost everyone on Texas roads is Texan, or else is a driving an eighteen wheeler that has been taxed heavily already. To take public highways that have existed for decades and "finish them" as toll roads is literally highway robbery.

Coming to America (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261439)

I think its side by side. Of course with a speed increase, you would expect the accident rate to go up slightly. I welcome higher posted limits, only because im smart enough to put aside minor distractions for the chance to get from point A to point B faster without incident. The thing is, most of America is not so smart. Im sure Germans on the Autobahn arent texting at 100-200mph. I'd bet someone said "Wow this is pretty fast, I should keep my eyes and focus on the road". They still have idiots on the road, same as everyone else. The limiting factor seems to be the amount of stupidity per square mile. Its concentrated here in the states. I'd also point out that people have a disability by becoming "too comfortable" with something, and letting their guards down. Just my 2 cents for what its worth.

Death Rate Per Mile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261457)

Doesn't the autobahn have a lower death rate per mile than the US highway system?

Re:Death Rate Per Mile (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41261685)

Doesn't the autobahn have a lower death rate per mile than the US highway system?

Germany (and most of Europe, for that matter) makes it much harder and more expensive to get a driving license than the US, and provides much better alternatives to driving for getting from point A to point B than does the US.

So that's hardly surprising.

stupidest argument ever (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#41261461)

'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"

That happens anytime you raise the speed limit. from 55 to 65. from 45 to 55. from 10 to 20. We've already had this argument brought up multiple times, and you lost. Take that argument and go away.

Statistically speaking anyway, once you're hurtling down the road at 65 mph or faster, you're already well over the curve for speed-to-lethality tradeoff. Dropping your odds of survival from 2% to 1.8% really doesn't impress me that much.

Re:stupidest argument ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261543)

Well, even on I-95, I have seen drivers doing 85 routinely with posted limit of 70, which raises a question - what does the posted speed limit serve anyways? If you as a driver and your vehicle cannot go beyond a certain limit, why would you want to speed up? People in my apartment driving on the 15 mph road routinely crash on other cars, walls, dumpster and so on. Why would they even want to go on a 85mph road is beyond me.

Re:stupidest argument ever (4, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#41261641)

Add that to research that suggests that many people drive at the speed they feel comfortable at, regardless of the posted limit, and it really is a very good question.

What is the point? Personally, I think its because some people like the idea of being able to pull over any car at will. Just keep the rules in that area where most people break a few as a matter of course, but not so egregious that its obvious thats what you are doing, and its both a money source and a source of arbitrary abuse of power.

I have heard it directly from cops mouths.... if they want to pull someone over, the standard wisdom is, all they have to do is watch them for a few minutes and they will find a reason. What does that say about the standards that are set?

Eh... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41261465)

Everyone already goes 85 or faster on SH 130 anyway. I've been passed going 90 on it. There's nothing new here other than them making the higher speed official since they acknowledge that everyone is doing it anyway.

Sounds fine to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261467)

More organ donations - assuming anything is left of the occupants after a 160km/h crash.

Stay out of the left lane if you're not passing (5, Insightful)

Control-Z (321144) | about 2 years ago | (#41261469)

Just stay out of the left lane when not passing and driving will be much safer for everyone.

Net actual speed (2)

Glasswire (302197) | about 2 years ago | (#41261471)

If it's a toll road and you have to some to a complete stop or at least slow down dramatically to pay with coins or read your transponder every few miles, you're net actual speed may not be that much higher than a 70mph road with no obstructions (depending on number and wait times at toll booths)

Re:Net actual speed (4, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41261555)

You don't have to pull over. It has cameras that check your toll tag on your car or snaps your license plate to charge you for the trip. Any modern tollroad is like this. They do have places to pull over if you want to pay in cash but it's not required. You can blas up 45 miles from Austin to Georgetown currently without ever stopping.

Re:Net actual speed (2)

PTBarnum (233319) | about 2 years ago | (#41261557)

Modern cameras and transponder readers work just fine at highway speeds. If you have to slow down to pay a toll, you're dealing with legacy equipment.

Re:Net actual speed (1)

Tomahawk (1343) | about 2 years ago | (#41261635)

It's a 41mile stretch, so it may only be tolled at 41 mile intervals...

Re:Net actual speed (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41261673)

Nope. The 49-mile stretch of 130 going north has about 4 or 5 toll points, but there is no need to stop.

Re:Net actual speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261655)

The road *is* a tollway- but no one ever slows down for the transponder to be read. I (and pretty much everyone else) regularly pass through at 80mph now in the slower toll regions. Tthese new tollways are wide well-done modern highways and unlike some tollways in other areas of the state are largely unpopulated. With the lack of other motorists, you really have to try and crash on the local tollways.

Road Trip! (1)

Benedick (737361) | about 2 years ago | (#41261479)

I think a nice drive to Seguin in November sounds like great fun! I'd love to legally open it up and go 85.

Re:Road Trip! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261625)

If "opening it" up means you get going 85mph you need to get a different car.

By that logic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261483)

We should have just stuck with a horse and buggy.

reduces the surplus population (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261485)

and takes some of the stupid out of the gene pool.

Love this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261487)

I've actually driven on this toll road many times while driving back and forth to my parents house in Georgetown. Yeah I costs a little bit more but there is never anyone on it. It's a million times better than driving through Austin's traffic!

Re:Love this! (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41261579)

Plus everyone already goes 85-95 anyway on 130 anyway and with the little traffic it has I see no problems since you are hardly ever bumper to bumper with anyone else.

Perspective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261497)

Just to put this in perspective, I've done at least 120Mph on every interstate I've been on in this country, primarily up and down the eastern seaboard (quite a few times with several other cars accompanying me) - so 85 is rather yawn inducing. And this is in an 2001 F150 and a 1991 Dodge Daytona - nothing special.

Not to mention that there are several places where there simply isn't a speed limit restriction in the U.S..

Drive safe out there.

Re:Perspective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261559)

Unless you've replaced your engine with some special custom-designed model, you're causing your mileage per gallon to be absolutely horrid by driving so far from the efficient zone. I'm glad you're rich enough to not care how much gas costs.

Re:Perspective. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261691)

It has much less to do with the engine and more to do with transmission gearing. Many big RV owners will add an extra overdrive to put the engine rpm in a more efficient range when cruising at 75-80.

80's flashback (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#41261511)

With a headline like that I feel like I'm back in 80's when the government was busy telling everyone that driving over 55 would result in catastrophic death across the nation. This was of course the most widely disregarded law in the country and simply led to people questioning the government on other thing safety claims that it made. Figures such as those above have largely been debunked time and time again (do your own damn Google research - I'm busy).

There is nothing inherently dangerous about speed, Germany has proven that for decades. The thing that is most dangerous of all is variance in speed. That being said, I'll be the first to step up and say that Germany also has tougher standards for their drivers tests. Sounds like a fair deal to me, higher speed limits and higher standards to get a drivers license? What's not to love?

Re:80's flashback (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261671)

Deaths did go up when speeds went up. They always do. You can't ignore the laws of physics.

Germany has the toughest and most expensive licensing requirements of any nation. They really make sure you know how to drive before letting you loose on the road, and they charge an arm and a leg for the privilege. They also have the most rigid enforcement and the stiffest penalties for breaking the law. (Percentage of your income, bitch! No wrist slaps for rich BMW drivers)

Americans would never stop screaming and crying if we had German style driving laws here. Pretty much no driving until 21, and the elderly would be failed out much earlier.

Higher speed limits equals less differential (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261537)

Based on my experience driving in different European countries, the max speed experienced on Highways with light traffic is about 80-90mph, regardless of the speed limits. For instance, in Norway where I drive on highways every day, the max speed limit is 100km/h (about 60mph) but cruising in 120 is common. In countries where the speed limit is for instance 130km/h, cruising at 20 above is a lot less common. People very seldom drive below the speed limits, but there are always some that cruise at higher speed. 85 mph feels "fast enough" for more people than 60mph does.

Less differential in speed between drivers causes less accidents. An instant (and I really mean instant, as in your body instantly stops moving) stop over 40mph *will* kill you, the sudden stop will dislocate your organs. If you crash into a wall at 85mph, driving at 65mph wouldn't have saved you.

racket (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261539)

It's not news to anyone that highway speed limits are violated en masse on a daily basis. Here in Mass, for instance, it's not unusual to see the whole traffic go at about 90mph on the Pike where the limit is 65mph. Because 65mph for modern cars and a wide road is very low. But what it does allow is for cops to ticket folks when the feel like. Good for police budgets (who, on the Pike, I think get 50% cut), and cops who need an excuse to stop a suspicious vehicle. Bad for everyone else.

This crystallizes the different notions of freedom (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41261541)

Some view freedom as a teenager: I can do anything I want, damn the consequences.

Some view freedom as an adult: I can do anything I want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

When you speed, you put other lives at risk, not just your own.

Freedom does not mean freedom from responsibility. In fact, in a land of people who don't act with responsibility, real freedom pretty much doesn't exist either.

You can see these same problems in the debate on drug use, on healthcare, etc. Some people are just immature and believe freedom means the consequences of their actions don't figure into their conception of freedom.

"Your Liberty To Swing Your Fist Ends Just Where My Nose Begins"

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

/. worthy? tech section? (0)

1800maxim (702377) | about 2 years ago | (#41261545)

what's "tech" about raising the speed limit? why is this on /. anyway?

why don't we just directly set up a feed from the Daily Mail

Please raise it 88 MPH. I have a Delorean. (4, Funny)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | about 2 years ago | (#41261583)

Then you really dont have to worry about anything. of course when traveling back and forth in time i could always collide with another vehicle. Oh and i also need lightning.

I put it on wikispeedia (1)

cellurl (906920) | about 2 years ago | (#41261595)

I put it on wikispeedia.org. Perhaps someone can improve where I placed the sign...

Wikispeedia.org [staticflickr.com]

Speed does not kill... (2)

Bugler412 (2610815) | about 2 years ago | (#41261599)

Differential speed is what kills. Study after study has shown that those at greatest risk of injury or death are the SLOWEST 10% of drivers not the fastest 10%

Welcome (3, Interesting)

pmontra (738736) | about 2 years ago | (#41261603)

I live in Italy. The highway speed limit here is 130 km/h (81 mph), 90 km/h (56 mph) on normal roads and 50 km/h (31 mph) inside the cities, with some 30 km/h areas. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate [wikipedia.org] (OECD data) there are 8.7 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants per year and 12 per 100,000 motor vehicles. The corresponding figures for the U.S.A. are 12.3 and 15. That's 41% and 25% more respectively. It hints that speed limits don't necessarily have a direct correlation with deaths. Cars, road conditions and (most important of all) driver behavior make the difference. Keep your eyes on the road is the first recommendation I can't think about (btw, there are 1.47 mobile phones per person in Italy vs 1.039 in the USA - found on wikipedia - so it's not texting or calling that accounts for the difference - many people do that while driving here). That said, I welcome raising speed limits a little: it's good for Americans that will get home earlier and good for European tourists that won't fall asleep driving on straight roads at 55 mph anymore :-)

In metric (for the rest of the world) (3, Informative)

Tomahawk (1343) | about 2 years ago | (#41261613)

For those of us who don't know mph, here's some conversions to km/h:

https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+85+mph+in+kph [google.com] (etc)

100mph =~ 160.934km/h (by definition)
95mph =~ 152.9
90mph =~ 144.8km/h
85mph = ~136.8km/h (motorways in Italy, among other countries, have speed limits of 130km/h)
80mph =~ 128.7km/h
75mph =~ 128.7km/h
74.5mph =~ 120km/h (this is the motorway speed limit in Ireland)
70mph =~ 112.65 km/h (this is the motorway speed limit in the UK)

What about fuel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261619)

Why is no one talking about the cost to fuel economy? Modern cars hit their sweet spot around 60-65 MPH (although if you've ever had to drive at 40-55 MPH on a freeway, you'd be amazed at what happens*) and take a pretty big hit over 70. When we're trying to cut consumption, this seems rather silly.

Or is this Texas' way of saying "Fuck you!" to the new government mandate of 54.5 MPG that will take effect in a number of years.

*Had to do this with a U-Haul trailer once. My Envoy, which got only about 18-19 MPG on the highway, made over 26 on that trip.

Since hitch-hiking in Germany... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261663)

My ideas about maximum speeds have changed. I used to live in The Netherlands with max speeds around 80, and live in Finland (~75), but when I started hitch-hiking I've occasionally had drivers who would drive at as much as 150 mph (240kph) and I didn't start feeling uncomfortable (and only slightly so) when an old man passed 125 mph at night.

I think the other comments about the driver's ed system in the States are right on the money.

Speed bumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41261675)

If they're worried about safety, they should get rid of speedbumps.

Because speedbumps slow down important shit (like ambulances and firetrucks), they actually kill THIRTY TIMES as many people as they save.

Also, apropos of nothing, the German word for 'speedbump' is 'sleeping policeman', which says something about their culture.

Overall Equipment Improvements (2)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41261687)

I drive a pretty nice 2000 300+HP car. I also drive a 1980 180HP truck. There is no way I'd drive my truck like I do my sports car. It doesn't have crash impact standards, no air bags, no ABS, rear drums, steering gear. I'm happy a 65mph in that thing.

Now get in my 300HP car with traction control, airbags, a super suspension, 4 disc brakes, rack & pinion steering. I am happy at 80mph. Newer versions of my car are happy at 100mph. I was positively horrified when I got stuck doing just the speed limit the other day. It was _so_slow. 5mph difference at 40mph is a huge percentage (12.5%) whereas at 80, it's 6% of the speed limit

Over the years, we get better at making things safer. Better rubber, suspensions, steering, aerodynamics. It should be true that we can drive faster on the same roads given overall equipment improvement.

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