Highway Safety Groups Urge Texas Transportation Commission To Maintain Current Speed Limit

May 24, 2006

Highway Safety Groups Urge Texas Transportation Commission To Maintain Current Speed Limit

WASHINGTON, D.C.   On the eve of a critical highway safety vote in Texas, two groups are urging members of the Texas Transportation Commission to maintain existing posted speed limits throughout the state.

In a letter submitted today to the Texas Transportation Commission, both organizations, Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, urged commissioners not to raise the speed limit to 80 mph in some parts of the state. The letter is available at www.saferoads.org/state/TexasSpeed%20Limit%20Increase%20Proposal052406.pdf.

Legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2005 that took effect last September granted the commission the authority to raise the daytime speed limit in portions of specific counties with a population density of less than 15 people per square mile. The nighttime speed limit remained at 65 mph.

“Nearly 40 percent of the 3,600 people killed on Texas roads in 2004 were speed-related crashes,” said Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Judie Stone. “With these types of crashes costing Texas nearly $3.5 billion annually, raising speed limits to 80 mph is a deadly, dangerous and irresponsible act.”

“The Texas commission is making this change to accommodate lawbreakers,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “Are they making the same changes for drunk or hit-and-run drivers?” 

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, said, “You can repeal the speed limit law but you can’t repeal the law of physics.  People don’t survive crashes at these excessive speeds.”

The commission is expected to vote on the speed limit change on Thursday.

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