85 mph now legal in Texas

West Texas is so flat and featureless, you can kind of see why the state legislature voted to raise the speed limit to 85mph (It's already 80 mph--did you know that?). That's the funny thing about geography... the speed of travel is inversely proportional to the number of people living in the area. New York is dense, so travel there is snail-like. Outer space has very few humanoids, so we travel there at roughly 15,000 mph. Since West Texas also has few humanoids, locals think it's just fine to go really fast there, too. And yes, it makes sense to go 85—if the driver is above texting age, and below corrective-vision age. So there's like a 2 year window.
And when the speed limit is 85, will they pull you over at 90? Probably not, it's Texas... where fast driving is a birthright. Not sure if that tradition dates back to Sam Houston, though. He was lucky to make 85 miles a week. (Update 9/1/2011: Today, 85 mph becomes the state's maximim legal speed, although there are not yet any stretches of highway approved for the new limit. Speeders, be patient.)


  1. The only issue I have with the new Texas speed limit is there are 2 generations of Texas drivers that either drove under the "double nickel" or learned really poor maintenance habits as a result. I'm a native Texan...drive west Texas and you too will become a believer in the 85 mph limit. Still, 85 mph, especially in the summer, is a scary proposition when critical items such as tires have been neglected. In Texas, tires don't wear out...they weather out. I do my best to not keep tires on my cars longer than 2 summers. Sometime during that next winter, they get replaced. Few people do that...there will be many high speed blow outs I predict.

  2. You're missing one important thing in your analysis - it doesn't make sense to go 85 if you are including fuel costs in your analysis. "You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.27 per gallon for gas." http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drivehabits.shtml

    ... So that's like paying an extra 30% or so for gas at today's prices - from $3/gallon to over $4. Not a big deal at 100 miles, but significant for longer voyages.

  3. Yeah, well, my time is worth something, too. Assuming that gas mileage efficiency declines by one-third between 60mph and 80mph, and assuming the price of gas is $3.50/gallon, the slower speed will "pay" an implied wage of $15.56/hour. In annual salary terms, that would be about $31,000 a year. Do you work that cheap?