A new state highway that is under construction may permit maximum vehicle speeds up to 85 mph. With an existing Interstate roadway between two major cities suffering vehicle congestion, the new highway stretch is designed to reduce traffic volume and offer drivers another route.
Louisiana endures similar congestion on some roads, but it has not considered permitting speed limits of 80 mph or higher on its roadways. One section of the new highway is complete and open. It has a current 80 mph speed limit, but will increasing the speed even more lead to car accidents?
Increasing the maximum permitted speed to 85 mph would result in the fastest posted maximum highway speed in the Western Hemisphere. The only higher speed limit in the world exists on some roadways in Poland, where a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour (around 86 mph) are allowed.
Although many critics believe these speed limits will cause more vehicle accidents and fatalities, Department of Transportation officials maintain that the safest roadways are those where all vehicles are moving at the same speed, whether low or high.
Other proponents agree that it is the uniformity of vehicle speed, not the speed itself, that promotes driver safety. The open section of the new highway is, to date, handling drivers traveling at around 85 mph without incident.
Attendees at an annual state Transportation Institute road safety conference continued the lively debate about the proposed 85 mph speed limit on the new highway. Since the former 55 mph national speed limit, enacted in 1974 for safety and fuel consumption reasons, few super-high speed limits have been proposed or instituted in Louisiana or other U.S. states.
How do you feel about the 85 mph speed limit? Do you believe it would create more dangerous or safer highway travel? Will this speed limit reduce or increase personal injuries and fatalities?
Source: Reuters, "Texas studies 85 mph speed limit, fastest in U.S.," Jim Forsyth, June 7, 2012