Burning Rubber Will Be A Lot Easier With Texas' New High Speed Limit Of 85 MPH

Everything is bigger in Texas (or so the saying goes, I’ve never measured a thing in that state so I can’t vouch) and now that includes big ol’ speed limits. Or rather, very high ones, at a new fastest speed for the nation — 85 miles per hour. It’s all for a new stretch of a toll road running 41 miles from Austin to Seguin.

Drivers will be able to really put the pedal to the metal starting in November when the road opens. Most U.S. highways have a max speed of 75 mph, although there are a few with 80 mph speed limits out there. The Texas Transportation Commission is keeping mum on its decision to approve the speed, notes the Los Angeles Times.

If the limit is officially 85 mph, you know and I know and we all know what that means — plenty of people are going to be going over that at even 95 or 100 mph. Kinda scary, but states are allowed to set their own speed rules so that’s that. Texas wants to be fast, it’s gonna be fast.

“In 1995, Congress eliminated all federal restrictions on the maximum speed limits and left those decisions to the states,” said a spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration, who did caution drivers not to get hog wild. “As always, drivers should be vigilant and drive as safely as possible to protect themselves and others on the road.”

Texas OKs nation’s fastest speed limit, 85 mph, on new road [Los Angeles Times]

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  1. bluline says:

    People already drive 90-100 mph on I-95 in Florida. It’s been that way for years.

    • mharris127 says:

      Anyone dumb (or high) enough to drive 100 m/h on a US freeway needs to have his head examined and his driver license shredded!

  2. Hi_Hello says:

    If they are going to make it 85, why not just remove the speed limit?

  3. HomerSimpson says:

    “a spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration, who did caution drivers not to get hog wild.”

    Cue the cries of “big gubermint forbidding my GOD-GIVEN-RIGHT to drive 200 mph!”

    • Akuma Matata says:

      who cares what the FHA spokesperson said… it’s none of the federal gov’ts business. Let Texans decide what the speed limits are on Texas roads.

      • luxosaucer13 says:

        good point, besides Average National IQ

        /s

        • luxosaucer13 says:

          crap, the system removed my lesser than and greater than symbols, thinking I was writing in HTML, lol

          it was supposed to mean “less Texans equals greater Average National IQ.”

    • Sarek says:

      That’s especially true during their rare ice storms. No need to slow down and surrender those rights hard-earned at the Alamo.

      • Skittl1321 says:

        They didn’t earn any rights at the Alamo. They were defeated there. If it wasn’t the ability to turn the Alamo into a rallying cry for the Texas revolution, and turn the tide, the only right they might have earned there was the right to become a Mexican…

    • Robert Nagel says:

      Seems to work on the autobahn.

  4. TuxthePenguin says:

    First, having driven this tollroad, its basically a ghost town. Its kind of freaky at times to be driving it and not have a car around you. Its because its toll. Although I’ll take it every time to avoid the traffic of Austin. Getting to coast at 85-90? That’s just gravy.

    And where the hell is the post on the unemployment numbers?

  5. Oh_No84 says:

    Funny they only do this on a toll road. They will either raise tolls to cover lost speeding ticket revenue or they will cut the speed limit so they can start issuing more speeding tickets again.

    When they start increasing normal roads I will be impressed.
    While increasing the speed to 85 wont be unsafe at all they will lose a lot of speeding ticket money and that is why we will never see this on the interstates.

    • Sky75 says:

      Most highways here in Texas are already 65-70 mph (including the ones that go right through Austin). Last time I visited another state going 55mph seemed unbearably slow.

      • RandomLetters says:

        Same here. It felt like I could get out and walk faster than 55mph. There are a couple of stretches near me that are 60mph because of the narrowness of the road (one is boarded on each side by houses and a lake) but then when the road opens up after a few miles it’s right back to 70mph.

    • Mr_Magoo says:

      They have higher limits on toll roads because these roads typically have fewer exits and on-ramps, so there is less merging required.

    • MrEvil says:

      Texas has 70mph as the posted speed limit just about everywhere. Even 2 lane highways have 70mph as the posted limit.

      • Southern says:

        Only between cities. Inside City Limits, it’s much slower, usually 55-65. No 70′s anywhere in Houston.

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      actually it is to drive (not intended) traffic to the toll road. you are paying for the right to go faster, just like you do with a ticket. except your insurance does not go up

      IMHO, if I pay to drive on a road, I should get to go as fast as I want. it’s like renting an apartment, I “own” my part of the road for the time i am on it

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      actually it is to drive (not intended) traffic to the toll road. you are paying for the right to go faster, just like you do with a ticket. except your insurance does not go up

      IMHO, if I pay to drive on a road, I should get to go as fast as I want. it’s like renting an apartment, I “own” my part of the road for the time i am on it

  6. delicatedisarray says:

    The hubbub on the internet about this makes me laugh. This isn’t the middle of Dallas or Houston where they are posting a limit of 85, its in a stretch of nothing on a toll road that is nice and straight. There are already plenty on places in Texas that are 80, whenever I decide to go to Dallas the road I take has a limit of 80.

    • who? says:

      Exactly. It’s a long, long way from place to place there. 85 is probably an appropriate speed limit, given the distances and road conditions.

  7. hotpocketdeath says:

    I don’t mind this at all.

    As long as drivers remember that “Slower Traffic Stays to the Right”.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Unfortunately, there are too many people who don’t know what each lane is for and who don’t understand the phrase passing lane. Between the idiots just picking one lane and sitting there, the idiots using the slow lane as a passing lane, and the idiots 5 feet from your bumper, you can very quickly be surrounded by idiots.

      • axhandler1 says:

        I wouldn’t use the slow lane as a passing lane if the passing lane weren’t clogged with slow-moving idiots!

  8. shepd says:

    “If the limit is officially 85 mph, you know and I know and we all know what that means — plenty of people are going to be going over that at even 95 or 100 mph”

    No, I don’t know that. I hear that argument a lot, though. The busiest highway in North America has a speed limit of 100 km/h, and there are sections which have been proven to not have a single person traveling at or below the limit. The original limit was 115 km/h. Many suggest it should be raised to the average speed drivers travel at, 120 km/h. Your argument is used to shoot it down.

    My argument is, if the limit were 300 km/h, would you buy a Bugatti Veyron to do 320 km/h on it? If it were 130 km/h, would you dump your Smart Car and buy a Crown Vic so you can do 150 km/h? If the argument can’t stand even a simple raise of 30% of the limit, then your argument sucks. :)

    People travel the speed they feel safe at, minus a little if the speed limit is excessively low. You might feel that’s a good thing, and the goal, however, all that does is ensure more accidents (remember, SPEEDING never causes accidents, it is the DIFFERENCE in speed that causes them, and you get more differences in speed when you set limits arbitrarily low and the average driver ignores them).

    • tlvx says:

      Speeding does cause accidents that could have otherwise been avoided, and the speeding proportionally makes them far more deadly. It’s simple physics really… To wit: The “stopping distance” {look it up} at 80 mph is approx. double the stopping distance at 55 mph. Also, you have less time to react traveling at higher rates of speed. Do the math, or just watch some videos about all the death caused daily in this country by speeding. It’s really astonishing the exponential damage that is caused as the speed is increased.

      That said, I think there’s a sweet spot for reasonably safe interstate travel between there, closer to 80 than 55… and, I cannot agree with ticketing for revenue, ticketing in light traffic, or speed traps. (patrols sitting and waiting in the shadows underneath or behind objects)

      Also, I disagree that any well traveled roads should ever be anything less than 45-55 mph, unless it’s directly across from a park or school. 25-35 mph (and below) should not even exist unless their are pretty serious extenuating circumstances, or in obvious neighborhoods with nothing but houses on either side of the street.

      I think direct electronic technology could enforce speed limits (not speed cameras) better than people can. But, the speed limits need to be raised to reasonable limits… and, there needs to be a floor also for minimum speed.

      • shepd says:

        I’ve done the math, check my other comment in this thread with the numbers (0.6% of all accidents are due to speeding–at least according to my government, and I believe even that’s inflated, because they have everything to gain by keeping that number high, and a lot to lose if the number was near 0). The number of lives that can be saved through reduced speed makes this a losing proposition when almost any other safety measure would provide far more life-saving ability at a far reduced cost.

        I don’t need to look up stopping distance when I already know that at best it could reduce the number of accidents by 0.6%. It’d be like looking up the Bernoulli effect–I’m sure adding spoilers (or removing silly ones) could reduce accidents to a similar degree.

        And no, speeding isn’t the leading cause of fatal accidents, either–before you claim that. :)

        • shepd says:

          I know I’m replying to myself, but if you DO want to get the best bang for your buck as far as reducing deadly accidents, start with either making it more difficult to lose control (perhaps mandate snow tires up here, down in Texas mandate summer tires) and then you can add safety features to cars to make it obvious if someone is in your blind spot.

          Both losing control (but not while speeding) and not yielding (again, not while speeding) individually kill more than speeding does. Even “Other” and “Driving Properly” kill more than speeding does, so I’d also suggest improving signage/deadly intersections and finding out what “Other” means before I’d get to speeding.

          If you’re worried about broken bones, patrol for tailgaters, failure to yield, and losing control of your vehicle first.

          Heck, if you just want to reduce fender benders, look at speeding almost dead last. The only two things less likely than speeding to cause a fender bender are going too slow and driving against traffic on a one way road.

          Anyways, if you can’t find my other post, here you go:

          http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/orsar/orsar08/people.shtml

          (Table 2.8)

          The studies are always about 4 years behind, but you can see if you go back through the years the results are the same: Speeding isn’t worth the effort to crack down on when you can get MUCH better results from dealing with easier to solve problems first.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      “SPEEDING never causes accidents…….” LMAO, that’s like saying to a wife whose skydiver husband got killed because his parachute didn’t open: “Well it wasn’t the fall that killed him, it was the sudden stop.”

      There’a a reason why there are speed limits on highways. Most drivers these days don’t have common sense and don’t take into account one very important factor: Other drivers.

  9. TasteyCat says:

    At 65 there’s a temptation to speed because there’s no reason the speed limit should be that low. But I wouldn’t feel safe going 95.

    I’m fine with tickets being given to people who are driving dangerously, but going after people who drive 10 mph over the speed limit is about revenue generation, not safety. You want safety? Most accidents are caused by people following too closely. Start targeting the aggressive tailgaters. There’s certainly no shortage.

    • Shinzakura says:

      This. I nearly got hit yesterday because someone wanted to drop within a few inches of my bumper because he didn’t want to break for the guy in the other lane.

    • samonela says:

      Most accidents are caused by people following too closely.

      *Citation Needed

      Also:

      …going after people who drive 10 mph over the speed limit is about revenue generation, not safety.

      Preceded by: But I wouldn’t feel safe going 95.

      Ummm….85mph speed limit + 10 mph over = 95 mph (?)

      • shepd says:

        Citation provided (Table 2.8):

        http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/orsar/orsar08/people.shtml

        Speeding, as we think of it, which is just “Speed to Fast” (speed too fast for conditions means doing 10 mph on ice) causes 0.6% of all accidents where I live. It’s a lot of enforcement for a very slight possible improvement.

        Please stop listening to police officers and instead look up the facts! :) I know, the cops here harp on constantly about speeding being the leading cause of accidents as well. I think it’s a case of you always find what you look for.

      • TasteyCat says:

        How does me not feeling comfortable driving at fast speeds impact whether someone else should or should not? I don’t drive in the snow either, no matter how well the roads are plowed. Should all the idiots who insist on doing so get tickets?

  10. AusDave says:

    It’s not the high speed part that upsets me, it’s the unnecessary lowering of the frontage speed. For reference:
    http://www.statesman.com/news/local/slow-road-to-lockhart-smells-a-bit-fishy-2449523.html

  11. Press1forDialTone says:

    I think it would be fun to put pop-up steel and concrete walls in
    the road like in the Roadrunner and Wylie Coyote cartoons. These
    would pop up randomly but ONLY if the car coming next is exceeding
    60mph. Computer imaging is good enough now that the wall can come
    up -just-at-the-right-time for a IHTSA-style crash test. Hopefully the next
    technology will detect above limit alcohol in the driver and pop-up regardless
    of the speed they are traveling at just at the right time.

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      they have landscaping trucks with 20 Mexicans in them doing 40 in the fast lane which accomplish the same thing

  12. TravistyRobertoson says:

    The portion that is already open is at 80 MPH! And surprisingly a lot of people go about 75-80

  13. Budala says:

    ’85 mph? You call that fast?’ said the Autobahn.

  14. cspschofield says:

    I may have missed something, but isn’t there a western state that has basically done away with the speed limit on one or more of its highways? I dimly recall that there was a limit during some hours, but I forget whether it was limit at night and no limit during the day or the other way around.

    • Rexy does not like the new system says:

      Montana.

      • nbs2 says:

        Sort of. The way it was explained to me was that there are limits, but they aren’t heavily enforced – it is more of a “reasonable and prudent given the conditions.” Sunny day, no other vehicles, large gaps between exits, good condition road and vehicle? Have at it. Snowy day, some volume, near town and you want to do 105 in your beater? Here’s your ticket.

        • mharris127 says:

          Montana did have this law in the 90′s. Due to ambiguity the law was struck down by the US Supreme Court. About a year after that Montana reverted back to per se speed limits (75 m/h IIRC).

    • momoftwokids says:

      Montana, where you can drive for HOURS without seeing another vehicle, person or animal. Speed limits seemed pretty pointless to those legislators.

  15. deathbecomesme says:

    They are building the F1 race track right off this toll road. We’ll fit right in lol. I love taking the toll road. Always deserted and no police around to pull you over.

  16. STXJK says:

    I drive the toll roads around Austin quite often. As others have stated, they are generally EMPTY, and the main danger to going at a high rate of speed is you might spill your beer.

  17. Jawaka says:

    I don’t buy the “if they raise the speed limit to 85 you know that people will drive 100″ argument. For most standard automobiles there’s a sweet spot where you can drive comfortably fast without having to overly push and punish your vehicle. For me that sweet spot is 75 but I sometimes find myself creeping up on 80. I don’t think I’ve ever driver 100.

    • edman007 says:

      Well if I saw an 85mph zone I absolutly take my car up to 100+ a few times (mostly because where I am there is nowhere that I can do that without having to worry about cops), though I would probably cruise at 90 most of the time.

      Then again I’m on Long Island, 55mph is the max for any highway around though most traffic cruises at 65-70 and I don’t think 85 would be appropriate (though 65-70 is probably safe).

  18. evilpete says:

    I liked what I saw in Germany, the speed limits were dynamic based on the time of day, weather, and traffic

    • E-Jungle says:

      As a regular driver in Germany (about 40% of my miles) i can concur with that, they are very comfortable with the speed differences and drive very courteous mostly, which makes it possible and safe to drive those kinds of speeds.

      Most areas are heavily congested so even though in theory you can drive as fast as you want on a lot of stretches, the situation is that you have to take the congestion level and situation into account when you determine your speed.

      There is one stretch however which i drive often and it is usually completely deserted, so a cruising speed of 125 mph is no problem there and even then some drivers overtake you like your not moving :)

  19. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Somehow I am imagining the typical scene where Wile E Coyote makes sure both sides of the road are clear… and a speeding car suddenly appears and runs over him as he takes the first step to cross the street.

    (Raises a placard) “Ouch”

  20. ogremustcrush says:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned the fuel economy aspect of this: a car that gets about 30mpg at 55mph is likely to get 20mpg at 80mph. See here:http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.shtml. The highway rating is done at 55mph, depending on the aerodynamics of the car, the drop off at higher speeds vary depending on the aerodynamics of the vehicle(some that are very aerodynamic and have the right transmission actually peak at higher speeds, but most vehicles taper off from 55.)

    • ogremustcrush says:

      I’ve seen this personally fyi. I drive a Kia Soul, very boxy, poor aerodynamics. If I drive 80 I do only get about 22mpg, even though the car is rated at 34 highway. Driving 70 brings that up to about 30.

    • micahdg says:

      This seems like a no-brainer. The harder you push the gas pedal, the worse your fuel economy is.

      People who take 130 don’t do it for great mpg, they take it to get the hell around Austin’s stretch of I-35. Personally, I don’t mind paying for the extra gas, and the $6.40 in tolls to relieve myself of the stress of I-35.

  21. RandomLetters says:

    I can’t drive 85!!!

  22. MrEvil says:

    Welcome to Texas… don’t stay long.

  23. micahdg says:

    This toll road is rather… lumpy. It’s hard for me, personally, to reach 95 because my little car almost scrapes on the roadway because of these lumps. There are about 10-15 of them along the whole stretch of 130.

  24. shadow roper says:

    What!?!?! You mean that those many trips on I-35 between Grapevine and San Antonio in my 280ZX back in the 80′s with the cruise set on 100 mph weren’t legal? Why, that Texas State Trooper that I passed should have arrested me! For that matter, that Oklahoma State Trooper that I tucked in behind and drafted at 110 mph from just over the KS state line into Oklahoma City should have arrested me too! And the New Mexico State trooper on I-40 that I screamed by at approx 140 (hard to see the speedo at that speed) on the V65 Magna I had at the time. He should have arrested me too! Scofflaws! Villans! Mountebanks!

    • shadow roper says:

      I can go on in this vein for a long time. My mother used to say about me, “If Bob had all the money he’s spent on tickets and increased insurance rates, he could be driving a Rolls Royce (sorry, Lamborghini Muira SV, Mom!).

  25. RogerX says:

    Here’s an inconvenient fact:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

    US traffic accident death rates are way down since the federal limit was removed.

  26. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    You all know of course that most of your ‘speed kills’ studies are underwritten by the insurance companies. They love speeding tickets even more than the states, cities, and towns that use these ‘scientific’ lower speed limits to generate revenue.

  27. lagotech says:

    I drove the finished portion of this highway a couple of times this past week and 85mph is not a big deal, the few cars that were on the road were all going over 90, I was doing just under 100 myself, I would have gone faster but apparently my car has a governer that kicks in at 100. the point is that this particular road is in the middle of nowhere, is well designed, and very safe. now if they ever price the tolls to be reasonable then more people will use it requiring speed limits.

    The real problem with this highway is that it is a toll road and the profits go to a foreign country.

  28. sean says:

    Why is this even news? Cars have been built for these speeds for many years now.

  29. NeverLetMeDown2 says:

    Sounds great, now let’s also make one additional change to the traffic laws – if you’re going less than the speed limit in the left-hand lane, and you’re rear-end, YOU are at fault. Left lane is for passing, folks.

  30. Chris Long says:

    If you personally disagree with the speed limit, please shut up.