Friday, August 10, 2012

85 MPH is plenty safe

           Have you ever driven through the state of Texas? Not in the city, or hillside. I’m talking about the endless strips of highways that blanket West Texas, and other scarcely inhabited parts of the humungous state. You can go 50 miles without seeing anything but tumbleweeds and dead armadillos. Oh, and state patrolmen too. You can’t go twenty minutes without seeing one of them. Sitting in their gold cars, holding up a radar gun, just waiting for someone to break the speed limit.
            Coming from Colorado, I have made the trip between Denver and Austin, both ways, numerous times. It takes about 16 hours, not including stops, when you follow the speed limits. But those speed limits are hard to bear. When you see a sign posting a 75 or 80 mile per hour speed limit, as most highways in Texas are, it is hard to follow them. Maybe in the major cities that is safe. But in the middle of nowhere, it is real easy to put your foot to the ground.
            With that said, Texas should look to start expanding rural highways to 85 miles per hour. They are already currently testing a section of highway 130 with a speed limit of 85 miles per hour ( But that law limits the speed to only new highways. A traffic commission should review all the current highways in Texas and decide which one of those would make for an appropriate transition to a higher speed. It is clear that people already speed on many rural roads, or else Texas would not place state troopers so frequently on them. Texas’ government could spend its money and resources on many other important aspects of law enforcement that traffic violations.
            Many of Germany’s highways don’t have speed limits. That is pretty extreme, and would be reckless in Texas, or anywhere else in the United States. However, raising the speed limit 5 or 10 miles per hour on roads that people already go that fast on would cut down travel time as well as save Texas time and money.


  1. Texas is such a huge state and it takes a long time to travel. I usually travel from Austin down to the valley and it takes about 6 hours when following the speed limit. Even then the section of between Robstown and Kingsville on highway 77 is set up with speed traps. Once you reach Kingsville the speed limit drops to 35 miles per hour in a couple miles. I think Texas should try to increase the speed limits in rural highways were there is not a lot of traffic. When I travel I usually see people traveling at higher speeds than the speed limit. I hope Texas improves its highways and considers increasing speed limits in rural highways.

  2. Like most young adults, I suffer from an extremely reckless and fiscally irresponsible case of lead foot. I agree with you, it's extremely difficult to abide by the state controlled speed limits especially when enduring a long drive across the Texas border. Coming from a girl that drives 12 hours twice a year to visit relatives in Florida, I can't imagine actually going the speed limit the entire duration of the drive. I read an article once that by raising the speed limit, it creates more aware and cautious drivers. Increasing your speed also increases the amount of attention you pay to your driving, drivers surrounding you, and your environment. However, a big argument against raising the speed limit is that when you are driving 70+ miles per hour, you lose a large portion of control from avoiding implications. When you are driving faster than 70 mph, controlling your vehicle after blowing out a tire or avoiding an accident, especially when it's raining, becomes a much harder task to accomplish safely.

  3. Hi Thomas, I wrote my post on my blog ( as a review of your piece for others to read. The links to my online references can be found at the bottom of my post...

    In Thomas Brown’s Texas Government Blog, Brown tries to persuade readers that increasing highway speeds in Texas is an improvement for drivers. The title of his blog, ‘85 MPH is plenty safe,’ sets the tone for his argument that increasing speed limits would not be a safety problem in rural Texas. However, Brown’s piece does not confront the bigger issue that comes along with increased speed limits: carbon emissions. By increasing speeds, Texas would be signing off on increasing carbon emissions. Texas ranks the highest in carbon dioxide emissions of all the states, according to Texas on the Brink. About a third of the state’s carbon emissions come from transportation and “by some estimates more than half of all Texans live in areas where the air is unsafe to breathe, as defined by the EPA's Clean Air Act,” according to The Daily Beast. This issue far exceeds any annoyance people might have with the speed limits. It also is an issue that affects everyone in the state, not just those driving along rural roads.

    This problem should factor in on determining speed limits for future roads and for speed limits on existing roads. Brown suggests that increasing speed limits would decrease the amount of state money needed to enforce them. However, there will still be a need for cops to enforce the speed limit, even if the speed limit is faster. If we’re going to talk about saving money then it’s important to consider the financial benefits of lowering speed limits and therefore reducing the rate by which carbon emissions increase. Overall, it would save the state money in the long run to decrease the rate at which carbon emissions are increasing and to not have to try to fix as many environmental repercussions later on. Speed limits should not be increased just because people may “already speed on many rural roads,” as Brown suggests. Laws are in place to improve society in the present and prepare for the future, not just match the impulsive desires of some people. Therefore, it’s important that Texas begin to decrease the rate by which carbon emissions increase. One mechanism in accomplishing this is to decrease speed limits and enforce the limits. This is important for the health of the state’s environment and the health of Texans.