Maggie: Texas now has the highest legal speed limit in the nation at 85 miles per hour. The new faster road opened yesterday; a 41-mile stretch of highway from Austin to just east of San Antonio. But putting the pedal to the metal in Texas is going to cost you $6.17 one way. The idea is by luring speedy drivers to this new highway, there will be fewer drivers on other highways, easing heavy traffic. And Texas is making a pretty penny as well. The private company who built the road paid the state $100 million to set the speed limit at 85.
In the 1970s, 55 was the maximum speed limit allowed. Now, 35 states have speed limits over 70 miles per hour. Utah and Texas allow 80 on some roads, and now Texas is even faster. Supporters of the new toll road say it saves time for drivers, is not near any neighborhoods, and is making money for the state. But not everyone is on board.
Justin McNaull: As you increase travel speeds of vehicles, you increase the energy involved in crashes, which means you have more injuries and more deaths.
Maggie: AAA’s Justin McNaull says 85 will test even experienced drivers. He says enforcement is crucial.
Justin: We want to make sure that they’re going to keep a really close eye on it; that we’re not seeing crashes that we think are speed related; that we’re not seeing cars traveling at a great variation in speed.
Maggie: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety warns the tradeoff for higher speed will be more crashes and more highway deaths.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.