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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

If You Love To Drive Fast, Head To Texas

(Ricardo B.Brazziell/Statesman.com, AP)

It’s not quite the Autobahn in Germany, but if you have a little money in your pocket and you need to get from San Antonio to Austin, Texas quickly, you might consider a private toll road — with a speed limit of 85.

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  • Lee_lopez

    I live in Austin. Is anyone talking about gasoline conservation at those speeds?
    How about the cost of trauma care—in all aspects. Heck, I keep forgetting
    the mantra: “Don’t mess with Texas”.

  • Mike

    I seem to remember hearing that, unless you buy a tire that is specifically speed rated, the tire is only guaranteed up to 80 mph.   So, will there be lots of tire blow outs at 85?

  • http://openid.aol.com/rlupodimare RAOUL

    The beauty concerning the Texas speed limit of 85 miles per hour is that when one is texting and talking on his cell phone and perhaps drunk too, hits another driver head on performing the same tasks, their combined speeds (170)  will vaporize them and there will be little or no clean up. The other problem with 85 miles per hour is the dramatic increase of gas consumption and the byproduct : Endless wars over oil caused by Texan gas guzzlers whom have no concern for the environment and their connection to global social problems.

    • Will

       I was very surprised that the story did have a single mention of the environmental cost of driving 85 mph.  At 85 mph, an Ford F150 (already a gas guzzler) gets roughly half the fuel economy of an F150 at 55 mph.  So much for drivers complaining about the cost of fuel…  That said, any vehicle sitting still in traffic gets 0 mpg.  Set the limit at 55.

  • Chuck Palson

    Examining the rules of the German Autobahn can help to evaluate the pros and cons of a private high speed highway. Here’s some factors to consider:

    1. GH – no speed limit. Speeds of 120 are common.
    2. GH is very well maintained – very smooth – to avoid imperfections that could cause cars at high speeds to lose control. It helps that it was well built – the underfoundation is much deeper than ours, so required maintenance is less. BTW, our idea of a high speed highway system, pushed by Eisenhower, was inspired by the autobahn. It was presented as a military necessity in case of Russian attack. 
    3. GH is strictly policed to make sure that the most important law is enforced: slower vehicles in right lane, fast in the left lane. What’s fast? I suspect it’s comparative speed. It helps that the law specifies that drivers of slower cars are expected to switch to the right if a faster cars wants to pass.
    4. Accidents? far less than American rates, and fatalities were low because fast German cars were more solidly built than ours. I don’t know if that’s true today.
    5. Fines fare adjusted for income to make the punish equal. A driver who can afford a Maserati would be paying many times more than a VW.

    There are two American factors that might result in less favorable results:

    1. Germans are noted for more readily following laws. To get an idea of the difference, an American mail order firm (whose name I can’t recall) was told it could not succeed in Germany if they required prepayment. The idea was that customers should first have a chance to evaluate the actual product. The cheat rate was equal to American rates in mail order. 

    2. Many Americans love to compete on the road. It’s often the case that a driver insists on his right to drive slower in the left lane (It’s a free country! Nobody can tell me…). Will the fast drivers trigger the competitive urge as they often do now? Much depends on an adequate number of police who understand the necessity to stop the cowboy stuff on the roads. 

    Time – and experience – will tell. The inevitable fatal and dramatic accidents in the beginning will make great news stories in the “if it leads, it bleeds” evening news. Could this scare the cowboy Texans to drive more carefully? Will cowboy police enforce the laws? Will the budget provide adequately for the number of police needed? Time will tell. 

    It certainly is true, though, that Texas needs higher speed limits because of the vastness of the state and the way cities sprawl so much more (one way commutes WITHIN cities can easily approach 2 hours!)

    • Mike

       I think you’re very right about  “Americans love to compete on the road”.  I think it’s not so much ” the need for speed”, but rather the “need to pass everyone else”.  It’s basic in American culture:  we love competition.

      I remember a local news interview about slow drivers in the left lane.  One man said ‘if I’m not passing other cars, I don’t feel like I’m making progress’.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       ”one way commutes WITHIN cities can easily approach 2 hours!”

      Though that is based on there being WAY too many vehicles than the roads were designed to handle, not the posted speed limit on the roads.

  • Guest

    No mention that Texas cute the speed limit to the free highway that along the new toll road from 65 to 55?

    • Guest

      Sorry no edit option for the type-o… Cut not Cute!

      • Aunt Susie

        And on that note… FYI, it is typo, not  type-o!

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    The higher the speed on the road, the higher the kickback to the state?? And the state dropped the limit on the parallel, public, road from 65 MPH to 55 MPH? Why does this not STINK of influence peddling and corruption?

    - Why not 95 MPH or 105 MPH or 150 MPH? More money for the state.

    - Does the speed limit drop at night?
    - Does the state get paid based on the speed people actually drive or the posted speed?
    - When the road gets congested (and you KNOW it will), do they drop the limit? Probably not, it would affect the amount of income. If they DO drop it, do they have to give back some of their $100M kickback?

    Anyone who gets on that road had darn well better not ever, EVER complain about the price of fuel. 85 MPH is gas guzzling in any vehicle. And they get to pay a toll on top of burning money through their engine. More pollution, more waste.

    I do NOT believe people will drive the speed the “road suggests”. I’ve seen plenty of people doing 60 MPH on a rural 2 lane road posted at 50 MPH but with a warning to drive 40 MPH because of the condition of the road.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/William-T-Terrance/750446708 William T. Terrance

    This headline should read, “Texas outsources road building and toll jobs to Spain.” Good for Europe, how good for US? Despite the 85mph speed limit and all the other concerns, the company Cintra, a Spanish, company is the major partner in this plan! Poorly reported Here and Now, biting at the low hanging fruit of the story and ignoring the larger issues.

  • Chris

    I just drove across the northern Texas panhandle on I-40 west and the speed limit is 75 mph.  Almost everyone was traveling at 85 mph.  In the same thing on the Mass Pike, but the speed limit is 65 mph.  I would say Massachusetts drivers are more heavy on the gas pedal speeding than people that live in Texas.   

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