New Texas Bill Could Mean Lower Speed Limit Mayhem
In West Texas, getting anywhere often involves traveling on highways not up to interstate standards. We all know how it works. You're traveling along at 75, and suddenly, you see a sign ahead warning of a lower speed limit.
You already know what it means before seeing the next lower speed limit sign a few feet later, then another and another. Pretty soon, you've gone from traveling at 75 mph to traveling at 30 mph. Welcome to (Insert Small Town Name Here), Texas.
It can be frustrating, especially in towns where there really doesn't seem to be enough activity for the speed to be so low. Don't get me wrong. No one advocates that we should be allowed to drive through Eden at 70 miles an hour.
Likewise, no reasonable person would suggest that the speed limit in school zones of 15 miles an hour should NOT be strictly enforced.
I am just suggesting that there are instances of towns along these major US highways that lower their speed limits too far and for too long of a distance. We all know the reasons. In many of those towns, there is a lone traffic cop who makes a lot of money for the city writing tickets.
It is a reality we all know will never change, or could it be about to change for the worse?
Enter Texas Senate Bill 1665. Under current Texas law, cities can reduce speed limits in residential areas to 25 miles an hour, but only after engaging in costly and time-intensive traffic studies. This new bill would let cities bypass these requirements.
Road safety advocates say the lower speed limit would reduce the risk of serious injury or death in pedestrian accidents. An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that at 23 miles an hour, the risk of death is 10% in an accident. It rises to 25% at 35 miles an hour.
I get that.
I still worry that, if this measure passes, instead of 30 or 35 on long segments of US highways through endless small Texas towns, travelers here will be driving 20 miles an hour. If there is one house along a 20-mile stretch, we'll all be doing 20 miles an hour, which will be strictly enforced.
A galloping horse travels faster than that. Seriously, a horse can travel 25 miles an hour. Some of those old ladies on the electric scooters at Walmart travel faster.
This law could mean travel between isolated West Texas cities could become a nightmare.
I could be wrong. How the bill defines what is actually "a residential street" and whether major US highways or state highways are exempted would be crucial to this measure. Even with the speed trap law in Texas, communities have found loopholes. Imagine what this will do for people trying to get anywhere in West Texas.
I hope I'm wrong to be concerned. I also hope no one thinks I'm not on the side of pedestrian or commuter safety. It seems that sometimes we're all better off if the government leaves well enough alone.