“I feel the need … the need for speed!”
This famous phrase from the movie “Top Gun” might soon be heard repeatedly in the big state of Texas. This month, it was reported that a stretch of road between Austin and San Antonio might be zoned for 85 miles per hour. This stretch would become the home of the fastest speed limit within the United States.
This stretch – a new toll road – would have to be engineered specifically for the higher speed to ensure safe travel. That would include wider bends and gradual banking so the driver will be able to maintain control of the vehicle as they would at lower speeds. But will this engineering keep the drivers safe?
As we know, when a speed limit reads 55 mph (for example), the drivers tend to go approximately 10 mph faster. So at 85 mph, it’s possible for drivers to start speeding up to 95 or even 100 mph. These are speeds that most drivers are not familiar or comfortable with, and this could result in delayed reaction times when someone suddenly slows down in front of them.
However, I am sure this point was made in the past when speed limits were increased to 65 mph as well. Once the driver adapts, the comfort level will improve as well as the reaction times. But one thing that might not improve is the way a large semi-truck handles at higher speeds.
According to the law office of Sutliff & Stout (www.sutliffstout.com), trucks are involved in 25% of all vehicle deaths caused by a collision. Sometimes this is due to driver fatigue (750 people die each year in accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers), and other times because car drivers pull in front of truck drivers – taking away their deceleration buffer. When you start adding an additional 10 or 20 mph into this equation, the risk for truck-related (and all other) accidents increase.
Whether or not this new stretch of road is zoned for the higher speed limit, I hope drivers take care when they are on the road. Getting somewhere faster is not as important as getting somewhere safely.