Texas will soon be home to the fastest highway in the country.
The Texas Transportation Commission has approved an 85 mph speed limit for a 41-mile-long toll toad near the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Though drivers may be excited to put the pedal to the medal, others have reservations about the high speed limit.
“The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up,” said Russ Rader to The Statesman, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, Rader said, “But the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths.”
The American Journal of Public Health conducted a study in 2009 that showed more than 12,500 deaths between 1995-2005 were attributed to an increase in speed limits on roads.
Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, and in rural West Texas and Utah some roads go up to 80 mph. The Texas Legislature last year approved 85 mph limits for some new stretches of road. The strip of toll road running from Austin to Seguin, about 35 miles northeast of San Antonio, will be the first to allow that speed when it opens in November.
Officials say they wouldn’t have approved the 85 mph speed limit if they didn’t believe it to be safe. “Safety is our top priority and tests have shown the designated speed is a safe one,” spokeswoman Veronica Beyer said.
Toll prices have not yet been set for the new section.