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Should we drive 75?

By DWRAY@VICAD.COM
May 8, 2011 at 12:08 a.m.


By DIANNA WRAY

There's nothing like putting the pedal to the metal and zooming down a stretch of open Texas highway.

Plenty of people enjoy the need for speed, and a bill in the Texas Legislature may make it possible to drive even faster, legally, on state highways.

Rep. Gary Elkins was traveling in the western part of the country last summer when he noticed people are able to drive 75 mph in most parts of the country, and that Texas is the only state that still keeps a nighttime speed limit in place.

Elkins said he proposed a bill increasing the speed limit to 75 mph and doing away with nighttime speed limits as a way to bring Texas up to date.

"That's what it is everywhere else out West, and we're already a Western state," Elkins said, noting that the speed limit is already 80 mph in parts of the state, including West Texas.

Elkins' bill would also do away with nighttime speed limits entirely. Texas is the only state in country with nighttime speed limits. The nighttime speed limits will disappear in September if the bill is approved.

In Texas, drivers can book it at 70 mph across most of the state. The speed limit increases to 80 mph on the rural highways and less populated areas, particularly West Texas.

Interstate highway speed limits haven't changed in Texas since the state legislature voted to raise the speed limit to 70 in 1999, and then allowed for rural interstate highway speed limits to be raised to 80 mph in 2005, but they may be increased now.

Elkins has proposed a bill that will raise the highway speed limit to 75 mph and will do away with nighttime speed limits. If passed, the bill will only increase the speed limit to 75 mph in areas deemed safe by the Texas Department of Transportation, Elkins said.

The bill was passed in the House with only two votes against it last week, and Elkins said he is cautiously optimistic the bill will be passed in the Senate.

Elkins said he'll know whether the bill has been voted into law by the end of May.

He noted that the bill does not mandate an increase in speed on all highways, but it gives Texas Department of Transportation the option to raise it.

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