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Thread: It could be getting better... now 85 mph

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    It could be getting better... now 85 mph

    The Texas House passed legislation that will allow speed limits to rise to up to 85 mph on Texas highways. There is a similar measure that was filed in the Senate. Here's to hoping.

    The insurance people are screaming.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Clover must be stroking out about now!

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat;13222[COLOR=Black
    6][/color]The Texas House passed legislation that will allow speed limits to rise to up to 85 mph on Texas highways. There is a similar measure that was filed in the Senate. Here's to hoping.

    The insurance people are screaming.
    Not because it's unsafe. It's probably safer to allow 85 MPH on those highways and they probably realize that. A higher speed limit will mean more vehicles going at the same speed then some going the speed limit and many going faster, such as in the 55 MPH days.

    But the 85 mph speed limit means a lot less speeding tickets on all those highays and then the insurance company cannot use that as an excuse to jack up rates.

    -Don- Reno, NV

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Not because it's unsafe. It's probably safer to allow 85 MPH on those highways and they probably realize that. A higher speed limit will mean more vehicles going at the same speed then some going the speed limit and many going faster, such as in the 55 MPH days.

    But the 85 mph speed limit means a lot less speeding tickets on all those highays and then the insurance company cannot use that as an excuse to jack up rates.

    -Don- Reno, NV
    100% correct. Although I exceed 85 mph at times, I normally don't even cruise at that speed for fear of getting nabbed. I normally run about 80.

    In a no speed limit situation or a low enforcement situation I would probaby cruise around 90.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    This is not scientific; just based on my observations of traffic flow:

    A legitimate speed limit (not a speed that amounts to the de facto normal cruising speed or average traffic flow of most cars on the road, as current "speed limits" are) ought to be about 85-90 mph on most roads. It's ridiculous that the "limit" - as we Americans define it - amounts to the speed most cars are cruising along at. A speed limit ought to be just that - the absolute maximum safe speed for that road under ideal conditions.

    It is absurd to take the position - as our system currently does - that the posted max is the maximum safe speed for the road. It implies that any car doing that speed is already pushing the envelope, operating right on the edge of recklessness. If so, all those people trundling along with the cruise control set at 70 don't seem to be sweating it much. And given that probably 70 percent - likely a lowball figure - are actually exceeding the posted speed imit, you wither have to take the position that a very large percentage of American drivers are cavalierly reckless - or the "limit" is really nothing more than a politically prescribed number that corresponds to - usually - just slightly less than the average, ho-hum flow of traffic.

    A limit, it ain't - except in a legal sense. Drive faster than the number painted on the sign and you place yourself in jeopardy of receiving a "speeding" ticket. It doesn't mean anything more than that - even though our system imputes unsafe driving to it. It's perhaps the biggest con since the Federal Reserve.

    Consider: For about 20 years, non American could legally drive faster than 55 MPH on a U.S. Interstate Highway. On the same highways that had previously had significantly higher speed limits - 70, 75 MPH was common. It suddenly became illegal. But it didn't become unsafe - unless you attribute magical powers to Congress, which imposed the 55 MPH limit - and then, just as magically repealed it in 1994. Did it, then, suddenly - miraculously - become "safe" to once again drive at 70 or 75 MPH on those very same roads?

    Of course, no refunds were given for the millions of "speeding" tickets given to hapless motorists during the 20 years prior. Nor did the insurance companies issues an apology - and a store credit - for surcharging all those ticketed drivers on the basis of their "speeding" and, hence, unsafe driving.

    Things have gotten better. In most parts of the country, highway limits are at least up to - roughly - the normal, average speed of traffic - which seems to be somewhere between 70 and 75 MPH. Few cars go much slower than that; not very many go much faster than that.

    Going by the 85th percentile rule - the method for setting speed limits that states and the federal government are supposed to abide by, which they have agreed to abide by but of course rarely do abide by - current highway speed limits, properly defined, ought to be around 85 MPH.

    The 85th percentile rule says observe the normal flow of traffic - conduct a traffic survey - and note the average speed of the majority of the cars on the road. This observed average speed becomes the baseline from which the speed limit is extrapolated. The limit - properly defined - would be set 5-10 MPH higher than the observed average speed. With most traffic on most non-urban highways running around 70, the limit ought to be about 80. Maybe higher on really rural, lightly traveled highways (as in Texas) where a limit of 90 or even 100 mph would not be at all unreasonable.

    That's how it's supposed to be done. But of course, that's not ow it's actually done.

    The 85th percentile rule is obeyed about as much as the rules that says Congress is supposed to declare war before we send "the troops" off to fight a war.

    The reason for this is obvious: There would be almost no need for traffic cops anymore; jobs would be lost - and revenue lost. A great deal of revenue. Some small towns (and even larger counties) depend on the cashflow generated by the local "speeding" racket for a huge chunk of their annual budgets. Everyone knows this. The officials barely even try to conceal the reality of the shakedown, for if "speeding" really were the homicidally reckless act they say it is, would they be giving people "breaks" at radar traps? Cutting the ticket down to 9 over instead of 13? Do we see such gentle, almost friendly, banter between cops and rapists? If routinely exceeding politically contrived "limits" were in fact dangerous and not just a scam to gin up money without imposing an explicit Motorists Tax, then our system is oddly kindhearted to all the millions upon millions of (cough) dangerous drivers out there.

    But of course, they're not dangerous. The cops know it, the judges know it, the insurance companies know it, too. It was just announced that highway fatalities have dropped to their lowest level ever - even though people are driving faster, lately, legally so.

    By now, the idiot mantra that "speed kills" ought to be as discredited as neo-con Republican braying about "WMD."

    Maybe we're over the hump. Texas appears to be on the verge of raising its limits to 85. That's good news for Texas motorists, who may soon get to drive legally at speeds they travel anyway.

    Here's to hoping for the rest of the country.

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    The Texas law would permit the speed limit being raised to 85 mph on sections of road that an engineering study says it's safe to do so.

    There's no question that a well-maintained modern car can safely go those speeds. The other factors in the equation are whether the road and the driver can safely handle those speeds.

    From what I've seen, essentially all of the interstate (but not I-35) and a fair number of regional highways in the state can be posted at those speeds. The drivers, however... hooo-boy! No chance.

    Chip H.

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    From the news accounts I have reviewed, the 85 mph speed limit would only apply to new sections of highways designed for higher speeds. Even as a speed demon, I think that posting an 85 mph speed limit on roads like I-35 from DFW to San Antonio or I-45, would be idiotic.Knowing some of the players in the Transportation Department, they won't. I beleive that the 85th percentile speeds are probably about 75 mph.

    On sections of I-10 and I-20, the 85th is roughly 80.

    There is probably a lot of grassroots opposition to an 85 mph limit at this point. I don't think it is such a bright idea to bring it up in a time of $4.00 gas. An expansion of the 80 mph zones is probably a better idea.

    Actually, I think that trying unlimited, non posted speeds on uncrowded highways would actually be an easier sell. Posting an "high" number on a sign is like red blood in a shark tank

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post

    Actually, I think that trying unlimited, non posted speeds on uncrowded highways would actually be an easier sell. Posting an "high" number on a sign is like red blood in a shark tank

    That is unlikely. Wyoming tried going back to "Whatever reasonable and prudent" and the results were not good. Partly because people were brining AutoBahn cruisers specifically to run in the U.S. and some of the cars Americans were running were rolling junk piles. I remember hearing about one police officer who pulled over a 1988 Olds sedan in poor shape doing 110. A worn out car running over 100 mph and not in good mechanical condition is not reasonable and prudent. Hence the repeal of the "No Limit" limit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    That is unlikely. Wyoming tried going back to "Whatever reasonable and prudent" and the results were not good. Partly because people were brining AutoBahn cruisers specifically to run in the U.S. and some of the cars Americans were running were rolling junk piles. I remember hearing about one police officer who pulled over a 1988 Olds sedan in poor shape doing 110. A worn out car running over 100 mph and not in good mechanical condition is not reasonable and prudent. Hence the repeal of the "No Limit" limit.
    Wyoming never posted a speed limit higher than 75 mph. When the National Maximum Speed Limit was repealed in 1995, their speed limit went up immediately. Only Montana had a R/P speed limit from Dec 8, 1995 to May 28, 1999.

    The R/P speed limit worked out well for Montana. In the first year after the repeal, deaths dropped by about 10 percent. Unfortunately, some a-hole wanted tp challenge a 120 mph ticket on a two lane road. The end effect was that he ended up getting the R/P speed limit removed and replaced with a 75 mph limit.
    Last edited by swamprat; 04-08-2011 at 08:09 PM.

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    Senior Member eesquared's Avatar
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    Eric, I would add that when the 55 mph limit was imposed back in the 70's, fedgov told us that it was to reduce our gasoline consumption during the so-called energy crisis. Again, it government interference to control the populace by manufacturing a crisis, and then seeming to provide a solution to said crisis by restricting what the people do. And at the same time, produce a source of revenue in the form of fines.

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Wyoming never posted a speed limit higher than 75 mph. When the National Maximum Speed Limit was repealed in 1995, their speed limit went up immediately. Only Montana had a R/P speed limit from Dec 8, 1995 to May 28, 1999.

    The R/P speed limit worked out well for Montana. In the first year after the repeal, deaths dropped by about 10 percent. Unfortunately, some a-hole wanted tp challenge a 120 mph ticket on a two lane road. The end effect was that he ended up getting the R/P speed limit removed and replaced with a 75 mph limit.

    I knew it was one of the upper tier of states. I went up there a couple of times when I drove a truck but it's been about 35 or more years. I'd heard a few stories about the recent unlimited limit. One German sedan was going so fast that the police couldn't catch him for driving with no lights after dark.
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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    The Texas law would permit the speed limit being raised to 85 mph on sections of road that an engineering study says it's safe to do so.

    There's no question that a well-maintained modern car can safely go those speeds. The other factors in the equation are whether the road and the driver can safely handle those speeds.

    From what I've seen, essentially all of the interstate (but not I-35) and a fair number of regional highways in the state can be posted at those speeds. The drivers, however... hooo-boy! No chance.

    Chip H.

    I've been thinking on this since I'm hearing about it on the internet, NPR and Fox a lot.

    The average car tire is rated for 97 mph. That doesn't mean it will fail at 98, just that the tire company has built it to the standards required for 97 mph. Add in the heat (the last time I went to Texas, especially western Texas, it got warm in the summer) extended drive times on the open roads and I expect that a lot of tire failures will start to appear. Figuring that most people think a speed limit is a guide, not a law (figure "or so" under the number) a lot of drivers will be right at the ragged edge on safety. A posted limit of 85 will see average traffic flow at 90 to 95mph.

    A lot of people don't maintain their cars very well. I like to get older cars, fix the usually minor problems they have and then pile the miles on. However, if a tie rod is making noises, I replace it in short order and keep my front end aligned. Imagine a tie rod or ball joint failure at 90 or 95 mph. I rolled a race prepped car at around 120 once, it was not gentle.

    Consider the physics of the speed. Drivers will take more room to react, much less act. We are an aging population and new drivers are getting on the road too. Then there's the inverse square law. If you hit something in your car at 10mph, it will have an impact force of X. Go 20 mph and you have not 2X but 4X. 50mph and you have 25X. Now ramp it up to 90mph. The resulting impact force will be 180X.

    I suspect the limit of 85 will be more dangerous than one that just says "Whatever Reasonable and Prudent". In Nevada back in the 70's when I was driving a truck, it was during daylight hours and dropped to 65 at night. This gave the police the ability to judge a car by it's condition. Drive an old rattle trap and they can pull you over since it's not "Reasonable and Prudent" to drive a POS at high speed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    I've been thinking on this since I'm hearing about it on the internet, NPR and Fox a lot.

    The average car tire is rated for 97 mph. That doesn't mean it will fail at 98, just that the tire company has built it to the standards required for 97 mph. Add in the heat (the last time I went to Texas, especially western Texas, it got warm in the summer) extended drive times on the open roads and I expect that a lot of tire failures will start to appear. Figuring that most people think a speed limit is a guide, not a law (figure "or so" under the number) a lot of drivers will be right at the ragged edge on safety. A posted limit of 85 will see average traffic flow at 90 to 95mph.

    A lot of people don't maintain their cars very well. I like to get older cars, fix the usually minor problems they have and then pile the miles on. However, if a tie rod is making noises, I replace it in short order and keep my front end aligned. Imagine a tie rod or ball joint failure at 90 or 95 mph. I rolled a race prepped car at around 120 once, it was not gentle.

    Consider the physics of the speed. Drivers will take more room to react, much less act. We are an aging population and new drivers are getting on the road too. Then there's the inverse square law. If you hit something in your car at 10mph, it will have an impact force of X. Go 20 mph and you have not 2X but 4X. 50mph and you have 25X. Now ramp it up to 90mph. The resulting impact force will be 180X.

    I suspect the limit of 85 will be more dangerous than one that just says "Whatever Reasonable and Prudent". In Nevada back in the 70's when I was driving a truck, it was during daylight hours and dropped to 65 at night. This gave the police the ability to judge a car by it's condition. Drive an old rattle trap and they can pull you over since it's not "Reasonable and Prudent" to drive a POS at high speed.
    You have a point there. I suspect that posting the numbers on a sign encourages drivers who couldn't normally handle the speed to drive at say 70, 75, 80 or even 85 mph. When you don't put up a sign or have an unrestriceted speed limit sign it says to people "drive what you feel safe and comfortable with." That is when you achieve optimum highway safety. The German Autobahn proves that out by accommodating the 60 mph motorist as well as the 160 mph motorist equally well. It has a lower fatality rate than the US interstate system.

    When Montana had no speed limit from 1996-1999, its speeds did not differ from South Dakota, a bordering state with a 75 mph top speed.

    I like what you say about your maintenance philosophy. I have a 10 year old car with 190,000 miles on it. It tracks like a new car. It uses a little oil and the paint is faded. Otherwise, the first thing I attack in a car is the suspension and steering. I'd rather have an oil burning shitbox engine than something that is all over the place.

    Actually, most tires today are T-rated (118 mph). That's plenty of safety margin for today's driving. I like to put H-rated rubber on my vehicles. Reason: I like wet and dry weather handling that comes with higher speed rated rubber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eesquared View Post
    Eric, I would add that when the 55 mph limit was imposed back in the 70's, fedgov told us that it was to reduce our gasoline consumption during the so-called energy crisis. Again, it government interference to control the populace by manufacturing a crisis, and then seeming to provide a solution to said crisis by restricting what the people do. And at the same time, produce a source of revenue in the form of fines.
    The feds completely manufactured the 1973-74 energy crisis. The 55 mph speed limit was the major effect of that. The fact is that the 55 mph speed limit did not change fuel consumption at all. According to the Energy Information Agency, Fuel consumption ranged from 12.1 to 11.9 mpg in 1971-1973 time period. In the 1974-1976 time period, fuel consumption ranged from 12.0 to 12.1 mpg. The difference is statistically insignificant.

    So much for fuel consumption.

  15. #15

    Enjoy Your Elation...

    You all seem so excited about the new, upward-climbing numbers on the signs we see across the USA. It's a great feeling. I'm 45, and didn't think I'd ever live to see it. Now we're facing possibly 85? The highest ever posted limit in the United States? It's a great time to be behind the wheel, with the exception of Eric's complaint, which I completely agree with, that there there are simply too many vehicles on the road these days for it to be a truly pleasurable experience. I'm originally from Memphis, TN, but live in Central VA, and it's nice to actually be able to make a trip home in 12 hours these days, which means I can see the family and friends on a 3-day weekend. The old "Double-Nickel" days would have made that impossible.

    You have two years to enjoy all of this. Then it's over. As many of you know, Obama postponed implementing the new EPA ozone standards until 2013 (conveniently until after the election, which frankly I feel in my gut and butt he's going to win). These new standards are draconian, and if you think they will affect only power plants and private industries, your're delusional. They're going to have to go after our biggest ozone producers: cars and trucks. And folks, technology isn't going to do the trick. There won't be time for that. Washington's going to try to slow us down again as a quick, cheap fix. You guys are chirping about how Texas is so "speed progressive". Hell, they already have environmental speed limits in place! I know...I know..., they've banned future expansion of them, but they haven't fully rolled the existing ones back, either. Then there's Tennessee, with it's miles and miles of 65 car/55 truck environmental limits on rural expressways. All in the name of pollution, smog and presumably, OZONE. It's already being done guys, and at the STATE level! By the way, Arkansas, an old 60-65 mph two-lane highway state pre-1973, tried 3 or 4 years ago to go back to 65 on it's two-lanes and it died in Legislative Council. Never even got to the regular legislative session. One of the main reasons? The firm belief that Washington was going to return to an NMSL soon.

    My guess is in 2013 we'll be facing a new NMSL of 60-65 mph, with trucks probably back at 55. The only bright spot is that the states will have to post the new, lower numbers, but probably won't enforce them. The last enforcement mechanism Carter put in place was marginally successful at best, and it will be even harder to prove the new limits are actually contributing to ozone-level attainment. But you'll still have to deal with the old speed traps of the 1970's and 1980's re-emerging. We'll have to learn all over again where we can speed and where we can't. Ahhh. The good ol' days.

    Take pictures of the signs, guys. Hell, steal a few of them. They'll be worth something someday. 2013 (1973) is just around the corner.

    Hwyhawg

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    Senior Member BrentP's Avatar
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    Back at 55mph? For most of us in Illinois it's still Nixon-Carter speed limit wise. In less populated portions of the state, it's the revised 65mph rural NMSL.

    That said, On rare occasion I've been on I294 and had to be to the right because not even 85mph was keeping up with traffic. 90mph would.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentP View Post
    Back at 55mph? For most of us in Illinois it's still Nixon-Carter speed limit wise. In less populated portions of the state, it's the revised 65mph rural NMSL.

    That said, On rare occasion I've been on I294 and had to be to the right because not even 85mph was keeping up with traffic. 90mph would.
    That sucks. Illinois posted 70 mph before 74.

    We have made some progress on the speed limit front this year.

    1.) Ohio went to 70 on the turnpike.
    2.) Kansas went to its 1970-1973 speed limit of 75 mph.
    3.) Louisiana went to 75 mph on a stretch of I-49.
    4.) Texas has gotten rid of its nightime speed limit and is studying higher limits on other roads (up to 75 mph).

    This is in spite of $4.00 gasoline during the spring and summer.

    Hwyhawg is definitely sounding an alarm on what could happen, but the political environment is way different than the one that existed in 1974. During that time, states were falling all over themselves to post lower speed limits. Before the 55 mph speed limit was imposed at the federal level, 21 states had already enacted lower limits, many posting 50. Those posting 50 included OR, CT, NY, MA, RI, and NJ. NC, FL, and others posted 55. CA lowered its limit to 65 before 1974 as well. States had until March 1, 1974 to comply with the act. Few states waited that long.

    Today, I believe that maybe one or two would tell the federal government to pound sand, although I don't believe it would be Rick Perry's Texas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentP View Post
    Back at 55mph? For most of us in Illinois it's still Nixon-Carter speed limit wise. In less populated portions of the state, it's the revised 65mph rural NMSL.

    That said, On rare occasion I've been on I294 and had to be to the right because not even 85mph was keeping up with traffic. 90mph would.

    Now that were sending that idiot Blagojobitch to the clink the new governor will allow trucks to go back to 65 mph but only in certain areas pretty much outside of Chicago.
    My Civic does pretty well at 80 mph but I usually cruise at least 10 to 15 over the limit of 55. I can't drive 55! Now Texas has 85 mph limits better to be on a motorcycle and more fun too.
    Counting my blessings haven't been stop for speeding in a very long time I notice sometimes cops set up traps with planes and a bunch of them will be in position up ahead and pick off speeders as they go by.

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