Con: Faster speeds will increase severity of crashes

May 8, 2011 at 12:08 a.m.

Texans could be zooming even faster across the state thanks to a bill proposed by state Rep. Gary Elkins, but some people aren't for it.

Victoria resident Shonna Poland shook her head, considering the possibility that the Legislature could raise the speed limit to 75 mph in most parts of the state and eliminate nighttime speed limits entirely.

She said she likes the idea on a personal level because it would mean she could legally drive faster without the risk of a ticket. An increase in the speed limit will increase the likelihood and severity of traffic accidents, Poland said, so she has to oppose it.

"People can't even obey the speed limits now. Why raise them?" she said.

Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor tries to remain objective, so he says he can see both sides of the issue. Like Poland, O'Connor said he'll enjoy being able to legally drive faster, but he still believes an increase in the speed limit will mean an increase in accidents and the severity of accidents.

"I work a lot of accidents. I don't advise people going really slow - going 20 mph could be just as dangerous - but a faster speed limit means people will be driving faster with less time to react and slow down," O'Connor said.

Insurance companies have been against the move as well. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that high speed was a cause in a third of the fatal traffic accidents that occurred in 2009.

Victoria resident Matthan Atherton noted that this is mere common sense - a vehicle travelling at a higher rate of speed takes longer to stop. In a traffic accident, the difference between going 65 mph and 75 mph can be the difference between surviving an accident and being killed in one.

"When people get in accidents at that speed, it's going to hurt that much more, and it'll be that much worse," Atherton said.

Driving at a higher rate of speed also increases the amount of fuel used, Goliad resident John Wright said.

"Fuel consumption gets so much worse when you drive that fast. I think 70 mph is good enough," Wright said. "We're hurting for fuel as it is. We need to drive slower."

The U.S. Department of Energy reports the same thing, noting that each 5 mph over 60 mph is the equivalent of a cost of 24 cents at the pump.

Still, Wright came back to safety as his primary concern.

"Imagine if you blow a tire or a deer runs in front of you. It's dangerous enough. We don't need to be going faster," Wright said.



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