Texas Bill Would Raise Speed Limit on Some Texas Highways to 85 MPH

A bill recently passed in the Texas House of Representatives would raise the speed limit on some Texas highways from 80 to 85 mph - a move that highway safety advocates are already cautioning against. The Texas Senate is currently considering a similar measure.

The Lone Star State already has over 500 miles of highways with speed limits set at 80 mph - the highest in the nation, along with certain Utah highways. Critics say that the move would be tantamount to a license for motorists and truckers to drive 90 or 95 mph on these stretches of highway, as many Texas drivers already speed above the 80 mph speed limit anyway.

Proponents of the bill say that many long Texas highways have adequate sight lines and are lightly traveled so the speed increases will not cause more high-speed car accidents. Rather, if the bill becomes Texas law, it could result in fewer traffic violations and speeding tickets for motorists.

Speeding and Car Accidents: A Cause for Concern

While the Texas Legislature may be moving full speed ahead on the measure to increase Texas speed limits, highway safety advocates and insurance industry groups say the bill should be halted. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has already come out against the Texas bill. IIHS notes that speeding contributed to nearly one in three car accidents in 2009. Not only does speeding increase the probability of a serious motor-vehicle accident, but higher driving speed also raises the risk of vehicle structural failure if a car accident does occur.

According to 2009 statistics from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, nearly 450 people were killed in motor-vehicle accidents in which speeding over the limit was a contributing factor. About two-thirds of all speeding fatalities were the drivers of the speeding vehicles. Their passengers accounted for 78 speed-related deaths, and about 60 people were killed when the motor vehicle in which they were traveling was struck by a speeding automobile or truck. Ten pedestrians were also killed by speeding motorists.

Texas police also collected and reported data on speeding as a contributing factor to vehicle crashes to the Texas Department of Transportation. According to this 2009 data, 1,666 traffic crashes in rural areas were caused by speeding over the limit. In urban areas, that number jumped to 4,570 speeding fatalities. Nearly 18,000 more car crashes were caused by drivers that were driving at speeds that were unsafe for the road conditions, although they were not above the posted speed limit. Obviously, speeding is a serious cause for concern in Texas.

Penalties for Speeding Violations in Texas

Depending on where and how fast you were speeding, a speeding ticket can be costly. For example, in Dallas as of April 2011, if you are ticketed for speeding one to 10 mph over the posted limit, you will pay about $194, according to the Dallas City Hall's website. For the same violation in a Dallas school zone, the amount of fines and costs increases to $239. Drivers caught traveling over 20 mph above the posted speed limit can pay upwards of $300 for the speeding tickets.

In Fort Worth as of April 2011, the cost of a speeding violation can range from $106 for driving one mile over the posted speed limit to a maximum of $300 - speeders are charged $6 for each mile over the speed limit plus a flat-rate court cost of about $100. Traffic violations, including speeding, that occur in Fort Worth school zones have an extra $25 tacked on to the court costs. Speeding violations that occur in construction zones are charged $12 per mile over the speed limit with court costs of about $62. The maximum Fort Worth construction zone speeding ticket penalty is $500, along with the court cost of $62.

Other fine and court-cost schedules are in effect for other Texas cities such as Arlington, Carrollton and Plano. Your speeding ticket will generally state the fine and court costs that you must pay, but you may have additional worries on top of the traffic ticket if you are currently on probation or have an outstanding arrest warrant.

An experienced Texas traffic ticket lawyer can advise you on how to proceed if you have been ticketed for speeding in Dallas, Fort Worth or elsewhere in Texas. Fighting a speed ticket can help you keep your driving record clean - that can be important for people with previous traffic violations or other criminal matters on their records. It can also keep auto insurance rates down. Talk to a traffic ticket attorney about your rights and options for fighting a speeding ticket.

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