Monday, January 30, 2012

Texas raises rural speed limits to 75 mph

Following up on action taken by the State Legislature last year, the Texas Department of Transportation has approved raising the speed limit from 70 to 75 miles per hour on over 1,500 miles of rural Texas Interstates. This means that, with the exception of urban areas and stretches of Interstates 10 and 20 in West Texas where the speed limit is already 80, 75 mph now becomes the default speed limit for the state's Interstate network.

As I noted last April, raising the speed limits on rural Interstates by five miles per hour isn't going to make a significant difference in travel time savings. It's also going to reduce motorists' fuel economy and may very well result in more accident-related deaths. But it also brings Texas in line with the maximum rural Interstate speed limits of surrounding states, such as Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and for that matter most of the central and western United States. So I can't find myself in opposition to this change.

What I would like to see accompany these higher speed limits is more aggressive enforcement by state, county and municipal agencies of Section 545.051(b) of the state's Transportation Code, which reads:
An operator of a vehicle on a roadway moving more slowly than the normal speed of other vehicles at the time and place under the existing conditions shall drive in the right-hand lane available for vehicles, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, unless the operator is:

(1) passing another vehicle; or

(2) preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

In other words, SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT regardless of the posted speed limit. Driving slower than the actual flow of traffic in the left lane is dangerous, it causes congestion, and it makes people angry. If you're going 60, get out of the left lane. If you're going 75 and the car behind you wants to go 90, get out of the left lane and let that person risk getting a ticket. The only time slow drivers should be in the left lane of the Interstate is if they are passing a vehicle slower than them, such as an 18-wheeler. Slow drivers in the left lane are one of three major behind-the-wheel peeves of mine, the other two being motorists who litter and motorists who wait until the last second to merge.

Anyway, enough of that soapbox. This is the second adjustment to speed limits on Texas highways since last September, when the nighttime minimum speed of 65 miles per hour was abolished. Kuff has more, including the obligatory Sammy Hagar video.

1 comment:

Frod Dallas said...

I've seen some of the lane hoggers say that they hog the fast lane on purpose in order to slow down traffic since according to them everyone is speeding. What they are doing is dangerous because they are forcing everyone to pass them on the right.