Leave it to Texas to raise the speed limit in the face of ever-increasing oil prices… That’s right, the state of Texas is raising the speed limit along 500 miles of interstate to 80 mph. To be fair, the increase is limited to ten fairly desolate counties in west Texas. But still…
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is projecting an increase in highway deaths, and the Department of Energy estimates that every 5 mph translates results in the equivalent of paying an extra twenty cents per gallon of gas (though I have no idea what assumptions this statement is based on). With regard to the safety issue, Tom Smith (Texas director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen) said:
You can repeal the speed limit law, but you can’t repeal the law of physics. People don’t survive crashes at these excessive speeds.
However, Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson claims that the increased speed limit is safe on the roads in question. And with regard to the energy conservation issue, he went on to say that the state is responsible for drivers who “choose to consume their wealth.” Wow. Sounds like he’s bucking for an appointment as a White House energy advisor.