New Texas Toll Road Has 85 MPH Speed Limit - Good Idea?


A new toll road in Texas that opens in November will be the first highway in the state with an 85 mph speed limit, The Associated Press reports. Last month, the Texas Transportation Commission approved the 41-mile stretch after the Texas Legislature's decision in 2011 to allow 85 mph speed limits on newer constructed roads in certain parts of the state.


The new toll road from Austin to Seguin may alleviate some of the heavy traffic on Interstate 35, which connects Austin to San Antonio. Still, not everyone approves of the 85-mph speed limit.

"The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, to The Associated Press. He told the news organization that the tradeoff for higher speed limits may shorten travel time, "but the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths."

The Associated Press cites a 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health suggesting that more than 12,500 traffic fatalities in the decade following the end of the federally mandated 55 mph speed limit in 1995 were attributed to raising speed limits.

Most states restrict highway speeds to 75 mph or less, but some stretches in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits. The Texas Transportation Commission's website notes that when speed limits are set too low, some drivers who don't see the need to drive that slowly may develop disrespect for speed limits. Speed limits on Texas highways are said to be optimized by the 85th percentile method, finding the speed at which 85 percent of all drivers will travel at or below.

Should other states raise speed limits on rural stretches of highway above 75 mph? Share your thoughts below.

Source: The Associated Press

As a person who has driven on the autobahn many times, there is no comparison between the Autobahn and driving in the USA at 85. On the Autobahn you can find yourself doing 120mph in the right lane and closing on a truck doing 60 while a motorcycle is passing you in the left lane doing 170. And yet they have fewer accidents than we do. Those kinds of closing speeds will never happen on a 3 lane highway in the USA with a speed limit of 85 ....unless someone is doing 25 in the right lane! If you think 85mph on the freeway is too fast or unsafe .... YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Please turn in your license or stay off all freeways.
Duke Ganote
WONDERFUL idea in Texas -- and elsewhere! Safety features like wide medians and overpasses give rural interstates an impressive safety record. For example, Texas' interstate fatality rate of 1.25 was better than all other Texas rural roads, which had rates up to 4.95 deaths per 100 million travel miles in 2009. Unsurprisingly, the safety situation is comparable in Germany -- even though Germany is the "crossroads of Europe" -- even though relatively-untrained American drivers stationed in Germany do well -- even though Germany has transitioned the former East Germany's Soviet-style speed zoning and enforcement into Western standards. Hand-wringing and radargun-slinging DON'T improve traffic safety. Read it for yourself:
There is nothing wrong with an 85 mph speed limit on an uncrowded road with little traffic. Regardless of the safety picture, people should be free to drive quickly on a rural highway. Slower traffic keep right should be enforced on this road. People drive at speeds they are safe and comfortable driving. If the 85th percentile speeds are below 85, the DOT is free to drop it below 85. In teh mean time, I will enjoy driving on the road this november. People, relax and enjoy yourselves at a cool 85.
so why the hell do the truck have to run 70 ??? thats bull crap,, so 2 trucks running 69 or 70 tring to pass each other, an one gets hit in the ass b/c he is out in the4 left lane passing at the speed he has to go , he gets rearended, an he goes to jail for killing someone ? all b/c the cars are going 85 an hes not aloud to go that fast ? now u tell me if thats fare? fuck no ...........texas sucks an that road sucks,
Stupid idea in Texas. And probably the rest of the US. Even if the highway itself is designed for 85 the drivers are most definitely not trained for 85. Until and unless we adopt the German approach to driver education, forget more than 75 mph speed limits. Germany requires an extremely strict, expensive, and well taught driver dynamics course that last about a week. No renewals are required, but the law is absolutely strict on any violation. No cell phone whatsoever. No drinks, not even coffee, while on the Autobahn. There's a reason for all this. The Texas idea is strictly profit driven for the toll roads.
The Simple answer, Yes. The risk of crashing is at all speeds, and is agknowlegded every time you drive. The fatality of a crash increases dramatically after 45 mph, so raising the speed from 75 to 85 would only shorten drive times, with minimal change in safety.
85 would be my daily commute speed in a 65 zone. And I'm merely keeping up with traffic.
I think 85 is still pretty darn slow, make it no speed limit.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles