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Texas OKs nation's fastest speed limit, 85 mph, on new road

September 06, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • Highway 130 near Austin, Texas. Extensions to this highway will connect to San Antonio and include the first 85 mph speed limit in the country.
Highway 130 near Austin, Texas. Extensions to this highway will connect… (Justin Cozart / Flickr )

Texas has approved the nation’s fastest speed limit -- 85 miles per hour -- about the speed associated with the winds in a Category 1 hurricane.

The move by the Texas Transportation Commission on Aug. 30 had been expected since the state Legislature last year approved the 85 mph limit for stretches of new road. A transportation department spokesman told the Associated Press that the commissioners would not comment on their decision.

Many U.S. highways have limits of 75 miles an hour, though some roads go as high as 80 miles an hour.

The new toll road, a 41-mile stretch running from Austin to Seguin, is scheduled to open in November.

“If you’re looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,” Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in June. She also noted drivers often exceed the posted speed limit.

“When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You’re going to have a lot more fatalities,” she said.

A Category 1 hurricane -- such as Isaac, which just hit Louisiana -- packs winds of 74 to 95 miles an hour.

States are allowed to set their own speed rules, according to a spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration.

“In 1995, Congress eliminated all federal restrictions on the maximum speed limits and left those decisions to the states,” she said in a prepared statement.

 “As always, drivers should be vigilant and drive as safely as possible to protect themselves and others on the roads,” she stated.

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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