Texas will soon open a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country.
The Texas Transportation Commission has approved the 85 mph speed limit for a 41-mile-long toll road near the increasingly crowded Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio. The road runs several miles east of the interstate between two of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. And while some drivers may be eager to put the pedal to the metal and rip through the Central Texas countryside, others are asking if it is safe.
“The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, Rader said, “But the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths.”
Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, and there are no longer any roads in the U.S. with no speed limit like Germany’s autobahn. Some highways in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits.
Chris Lippincott, spokesman for SH 130 Concession Co. that is building the road, said the company is committed to operating a safe highway.
“On any road, drivers hold the key to safety based on traffic, travel conditions and the capabilities of their own vehicles,” Lippincott said.
Toll prices have not yet been set for the new section.