Texas – Speed Demon State Raises Limit to 85 MPH!

ABC News provides this video to scare the crap out of you.

SPEED LIMIT 85

 

What is a safe speed limit?  That is a very good question and deserves a very good answer.  We know that in Germany the Autobahn has areas where there is no posted speed limit.  Sometimes there are horrific accidents as a result of driver error.  Most times there are not.

We also know that the US is currently experiencing the lowest accident rate in sixty years.

So what is the safest speed to be traveling?  Zero is a good number.  A speed limit of zero would ensure almost complete safety.  That is ridiculous you say?  I toss it out to make a point.  There is a reason we travel on roads and highways.  We need to get somewhere and we need to move goods across the land.  Our mechanized alternatives are trains, aircraft, buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, etc. 

The invention of the automobile has changed how we live, our expectations, and how we interact.  Prior to the introduction of the car most people never traveled farther than 25 miles from where they were born in their lifetime.  Certainly the trans-continental railroad system changed people’s perspective on how far they could travel to look for life’s opportunities.  The railroad also moved mass amounts of goods throughout the nation like never before and still does.

During World War II General Eisenhower was so impressed with the German Autobahn that as President he created the Interstate highway system that we benefit from.  Because of it the automobile became not just a substitute for the horse and buggy, it became an expression of freedom and individual independence.

To be sure, it also meant that a new phenomenon, automotive fatalities and accidents.  During the decade of the Vietnam conflict US citizens were outraged at the number of young American draftees killed in that Southeast Asian country.  Even in its worst year it never exceeded the number of yearly fatalities on America’s highways and roads.  While there was always concern as regards the road carnage, there were never mass demonstrations in the Nation’s Capitol.

The fact is that there is always a risk, a certain amount of danger, with driving no matter what the speed.  Accidents happen at all kinds of speeds, from 15 mph to 150 mph.  Certainly the rules of physics mean that the amount of potential energy results in far more damage as the speed increases.

So why do things work so well on the Autobahn?  For one thing there is strict enforcement of lane discipline.  Cars cannot hang out in the left lane or they will be cited by the police.  Not even police cars can hang in the left lane and nothing happens when you blast past a police car in your BMW M3.  You just better be alert for the Ferrari coming up on you are over 100 mph. 

The road surface is fastidiously kept in top condition.  When ever there is a degradation in the surface it is immediately repaired and not just patched.

You also won’t find cup-holders filled with drinks and drivers chatting it up on the cell phone.  Driving is taken seriously and the licensing requirements echo that fact.

I have been a driver in an environment where I was driving and we were all driving as fast as we could – often exceeding 125 mph.  We also were going in the same direction and passing was only allowed when waved on by the driver of the car ahead of you.  It was on a road racing course during HPDE (high performance driver education).  There would be nearly thirty of us on the track at the same time.  These were cars that were driven to the track, not trailered race cars.  Yes, there was risk.  But everyone was paying attention to the task at hand and knew that they were dependent upon each other to know what was going on.

Yes, higher speeds carry risks and potential for more damage when accidents occur.  So we can set the speed limit to zero and feel completely safe or we can require drivers to have much better training and exhibit appropriate behavior on the highways and roads that we share with our fellow travelers.  A higher speed limit doesn’t have to mean a higher accident rate. 

A good start would be enforcement of lane discipline nationwide.

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4 Responses to Texas – Speed Demon State Raises Limit to 85 MPH!

  1. sartenada says:

    Very interesting post although I am living in Europe in Finland. I do not know the teaching level of driving school in the States, but I guess that it must be on high level. We have tests on slippery driving too.

    One important question is tires. If one have quality tires, then driving is safer. I use only the best. The price of my summer winter tires were 1100 Euros / 1595, but with them I can drive safely in Germany on autobahns at high speed.

    I have been driving more than 745645 miles since 1972 and yet last winter I participated on a course to drive on ice. It took three hours on an airport which was froze. I can say that I learned a little, but not so much.

    Well, my family makes car holidays in Germany every two years. Why? That is why I like to drive fast! In Finland it is not allowed, max speed is only 74 miles/h. My record is only 150.4 mph there. I tested my new car there and the feeling was great to drive at that speed.

    Driving culture in Germany differs from that we have in Finland. Here we are driving too close to each others and that means that the reaction time is too short if something happens. This is one of the most important thing that driving schools should to learn. Well, it is my opinion.

    I have evidence in my About Me page about my high speed driving with a photo which I captured from my video which I put to YouTube:

    http://sartenada.wordpress.com/about/

    What comes to Your topics, I have to say that every coin has two sides!

    Happy and safe driving!

    • jimsgarage says:

      I wish I could say that the US had a high level of driving requirements, but we do not. To get a license to operate a motor vehicle the driving test is very basic. A state government official rides with you while you navigate an urban roadway and it takes about ten or fifteen minutes.

      If you want advanced driving skills – well, that’s up to you. I have done several HPDE weekends and there are always plenty of students, but most American drivers could care less about obtaining advanced driving skills.

      Finland is known to produce some of the best rally drivers in the world.

      Thank you for your comments and the link!

      Jim

  2. Alex Maier says:

    Could not agree more! This country needs to enforce some sort of universal driving standard, and the cops should better write tickets for really dangerous behaviour on roads: hogging the left lane, not checking mirrors, not using turn signals, etc — speeding is quite harmless compared to that.

  3. Noel says:

    Since much of Texas already has people running at 80 mph plus, I doubt much will change in terms of accidents/injuries/fatalities. People will drive at the speed they are comfortable with for the conditions.

    A few years back my family and I were running about 100 mph on a French autoroute. I look over and my wife (who tells me to slow down at 80 in the States) is sound asleep. Kids are snoring in back. My wife later said going 100 in Europe is no big deal because everyone is going fast, and using the lanes well. This was her first time across the pond, too.

    It’s nice to be able to cruise along in Europe at 80+ and be legal, or on some autobahns in Germany to be legal at any speed. Two things make it work: lane use is really enforced and drivers are trained better. I’ve still seen people do goofy things, and Germans do tailgate at 100 mph, but it really does work well, especially if you keep up your following distance–and look very carefully before moving into the left lane. When you’re going 100 in the middle lane and some guy in an Audi A8 blasts by at 150 it really gets your attention!

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