Driving 80 in Texas — legally

Posted By on June 6, 2006

Texas Speedlimt now 80The biggest state in the lower 48 is now the fastest … Texas is now home to the 80 mph Interstate speed limit, in some areas. Interesting timing, as I mentioned before, that this increase is coming when our nation debates our heavy petroleum addiction and use? In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that every 5 mph over 60 mph costs drivers an extra 20 cents per gallon — meaning pushing the pedal can get pricey in a period of high gas prices, as well as use more of our nation’s domestic and imported fuel.

There isn’t anything really new about the speeds people are traveling on the nations highways as cars and truck routinely travel at near 80 mph speed … according to my ‘unscientific’ study; in fact yours truly has been known to push well above the Ohio limits on lonely stretches of I-71 heading to and from Cleveland. Making it legal perhaps keeps a few more of us from breaking the law, on the other hand … it might encourage speeders to drive even faster?

Texas is now the only state to have gone above the 75 mph limit found in a few other states, which makes it the highest speed limit in the country. Lawmakers approved the increase after transportation officials found that 85 percent of drivers were already going between 76 and 79 mph on Texas highways. The signs are now going up along 521 miles of sparsely populated counties after the law was push through late last month.

Besides the loss of fuel efficiency at higher speeds in a time the nation is looking for ways to reduce our consumptions, the increase speeds also brings to question safety. According to some groups, the move is shortsighted and could lead to more accidents and deaths. This criticism was refuted by Texas transportation officials who point to data that shows fatalities dropped when the speed limit was raised to 75 mph on some roads in 1999. This also mirrored similar trends when the national 55 mph limit was boosted to higher limits. Perhaps the safety of vehicles, mandatory seatbelt laws and the manufactures adding multiple airbag systems are to be credited too?

To the credit of Texas lawmakers, the higher limit applies lighter vehicles only during daylight hours. Drivers of trucks, truck tractors, trailers, and semitrailers are limited to 70 mph and the limits drop to 65 mph after dark for all vehicles.


  • mike

    I didn’t read this blog entry before this response, but I’ll read it later today..

    I spent 13 hours in the car yesterday and that gives you a lot of time to think… and I thought about the 80mph-in-texas post you did the last time. I was thinking about the causes of such legislation: time is money so driving for hours is expensive, our lives are over-complex… who has time to sit in a car?, increased competitiveness in our culture (one-up-ing the next guy)…

    these all lead to driving faster.. plus, I spent a lot of my time trying to get away from semis and coal trucks and the rocks they both kick up and the the tailgaters who always catch up to you as you slowly pass these trucks.

    Also, if you think about it, raising speed limits from a governmental perspective, you make society more productive because they can get home sooner and be with the kids or get to work earlier or faster so they can get more done. There are downsides, of course, safety and energy consumption.

  • I didn’t give much thought to the ‘productivity’ factor? I recall years ago enjoying the sound of hearing our presses running and calculating … how much each impression was making my company. It does impact your thinking as to keeping the equipment and manpower on the job.

    This probably brings up the ‘car phone’ legislation for those of use spending a significant number of hours per week on the road in a work related position. I stress out to think of having to pull over and use the phone every time I receive or make a phone call after learning to use my time more efficiently when driving. Yikes … add a few more hours to my already long work week!

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.