Posted on Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 8:14 pm
Texas recently opened a new highway, Highway 130, connecting San Antonio and Austin, which has a posted speed of 85 mph, making it the fastest highway in America. Safety advocates are concerned that the high speed limit will also make it one of the most dangerous highways in America.
According to a recent article by Rick Jervis of USA Today, “Highway safety advocates say Highway 130 is the latest in a dangerous trend of states raising their legal limits, as more states are sure to follow. Since the federal government repealed the nationwide 55 mph speed limit in 1995, 35 states have set speed limits of 70 mph or higher according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.” Russ Rader a spokesman for the Insurance Institute stated that, “They designed a modern roadway that is as safe as it can be, …but you can’t get around the laws of physics: the faster you go, the more likely it is a crash will happen and the more severe the crash will be.” The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that speed was a factor in about 1/3 of the 32,385 fatalities that occurred in 2010.
Texas Highway 130 was developed by a private consortium and partnership with Texas. According to the article by Rick Jervis, Texas received $25 million as part of the initial contract with the private consortium and an additional $100 million for raising the speed limit to 85 mph.
The first fatality occurred on Highway 130 approximately 3 weeks after opening. A 60-year-old woman was killed when her Honda was struck by an SUV as she attempted to enter the highway. A spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins, stated that the fact that the accident didn’t stir a louder outcry is likely to embolden legislators; states will continue raising their limits as long as no one complains. Adkins added, “There is no outrage over high speed accidents the way there is for drunk driving fatalities.”
Having represented many auto accident victims who have suffered severe injuries in collisions occurring at much lower speeds than 85 mph, I believe safety advocates have a legitimate concern with respect to this trend of ever increasing speed limits on our nation’s highways. The higher speed limits climb, the more dangerous driving becomes.