Legislation regulating speed limits takes effect
Texas motorists may notice some changes to speed limit signs in the next several months, as new laws regulating speed limits on the roadways of the state highway system begin to take effect.The 82nd Texas Legislature passed and the Governor signed House Bill 1353, which took effect on Sept. 1. This legislation allows the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to create a 75-mile per hour speed limit on any state highway found to be reasonable and safe through a speed study. TxDOT will be reviewing existing 70-mile per hour speed limits to determine where a 75-mile per hour speed limit may be safely posted. HB 1353 also eliminates the 65-mile per hour nighttime speed limit and all truck speed limits. On Sept. 1, the existing nighttime and truck speed limits are repealed and no longer enforceable. TxDOT awarded maintenance contracts in August to remove the nighttime and truck speed limit signs and is also in the process of hiring consultants to perform the required speed studies needed to implement the higher speed limits. "We will be removing the existing nighttime speed limit signs, truck speed limit signs and evaluating approximately 50,000 miles of state highway with a current 70-mile hour speed limit," said Carol Rawson, TxDOT Director of Traffic Operations. "With these contracts in place, we are moving steadily ahead to implement these new laws. However, it is important to remember that any increases to speed limits are not effective until the new speed limit signs are actually installed." Speed limits in Texas are set by the 85th percentile method, which represents the speed the majority of drivers are traveling at or below. This is a sound engineering principle used to set speed limits on highways nationwide for the past 60 years.The existing 65-mile per hour night and truck speed limit signs should be removed by the end of this year. The complete evaluation of the state highway system and posting of all new 75-mile per hour speed limits should be complete by early 2013.