Tag Archives: speed limits

Go slower out there!

BLOGGER’S NOTE — This blog was posted initially on KETR-FM’s website, KETR.org. 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton City Councilman Mike Robertson is a man after my own heart … speedwise.

He wants to slow motorists down as they travel along U.S. Highway 380, at least while they’re traveling within the city limits.

Robertson is pitching a notion to slow motorists down to 40 mph within the city limits. Currently, the limits vary, from 45, to 50 to 60 mph.

The Princeton Herald is covering this story and it quoted Robertson, thusly: “It doesn’t make any sense to keep such a high speed limit through town.” Yeah. Do you think?

Indeed, U.S. 380 often is clogged with stop-and-go traffic during much of the day. It’s a busy thoroughfare that coarses through the fast-growing community.

The city, though, has limited options. It cannot act on its own because U.S. 380 is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, according to the Princeton Herald, which reported: “The city does not have the authority to reduce the speed, however, it has taken measures to slow down traffic within city limits with one new stoplight and they are working on installing a second light.”

Indeed, the addition of signals comports with what City Manager Derek Borg told me about a year ago as we discussed the traffic issues along U.S. 380. Borg is acutely aware of the traffic snarls that occur along the highway and thinks the increased traffic signals, among other things, will help motorists seeking to enter the highway from side streets.

I believe Councilman Robertson is onto something. In fact, when I see the Herald each week, I look at the police blotter section on Page 2 … and what do I see? I often see several instances of “major auto accidents” along U.S. 380. The blotter entry doesn’t designate whether they are speed-related. My strong hunch is that, well, many of them are related to motorists traveling too rapidly along a busy thoroughfare choked with other motor vehicles.

The Herald reports that TxDOT is “receptive” to the idea of slowing vehicles down, but notes any action might require some time for a change to be made official.

Whatever you do, don’t drag your feet, TxDOT. I am one motorist and Princeton resident who backs a councilman’s request to slow the traffic down.

Pedal to the metal … woo hoo!

RESUME SPEED, Wyo. — OK, so this isn’t a real place.

It’s a term I use to describe remote locations anywhere in the United States of America.

But today it more or less symbolizes a trend across much of the western United States — and it is a trend to which I am getting used.

Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho are just four western states that allow motorists to drive 80 mph on interstate highways. Part of the rest of the story is that I’m getting accustomed to it.

My wife and I have been flying low across some of these highways in recent days. Allow me to add that we’re doing this in a little bitty car, a Toyota Prius.

Before you chuckle, I’m going to add that the Prius — in the words of ol’ Dizzy Dean — can “pick ’em up and lay ’em down.” It moves … quickly.

We’ve enjoyed our time on the road, partly because we can get to our destinations more quickly than we could when speed limits were a “mere” 70 mph, let alone prior to 1995 when they were posted at 55 mph.

It’s taken me some time to get used to these speeds. But I’m there.

Part of my justification for driving so quickly is that the Prius is among the most fuel-efficient vehicles in existence. We’re averaging close to 50 miles per gallon on our journey, which is a lot better than virtually every other family car on the road today.

Back in the 1970s, when gasoline prices spiked after the infamous oil embargoes, Congress slowed everyone down to 55 partly to conserve fuel. Since then automakers have done a lot better job of manufacturing fuel-efficient vehicles. My wife and I own one of them.

So that gives us carte blanche to give the all-clear “flaps up” signal when we hit the road.

By golly, it’s rather fun getting places lickety-split.

75 mph? In this neighborhood?

My wife and I made a discovery this afternoon while hauling brush to the relocated City of Amarillo mulching/brush drop-off site at the corner of Hollywood and Helium roads.

It was a speed limit sign at the edge of a residential neighborhood. You know, the type of place with kids running around and moms hauling their children to and from this or that event.

The sign said “75 mph.”

What? Seventy-five miles per bleeping hour — on this stretch of road with no shoulders, so near those homes?

OK, so maybe I need to get out more.

Then again, with speed limits like that on streets so close to the city limits, maybe I ought to just stay home, cover myself up and let others compete for space on race tracks disguised as city streets.

I’ve already noted my growing comfort with 75 mph speed limits on most open highways in Texas. The Legislature boosted them this session, believing apparently that 70 mph just isn’t fast enough. Hey, if you want to really push the pedal to the metal, take Interstate 10 down yonder, just west of San Antonio and you’ll get to drive at 80 mph legally. Then we have that miserable stretch of highway aka Texas 130 between San Antone and Austin where you can dead-head it at 85 mph. No thanks on that one.

Texas transportation officials and the city might want to reconsider the speed limit on that stretch of road just west of Loop 335 … and when I say “just west,” I mean exactly that.

It’s open road west of that location. There you can boost the limit to 75 — just not so close to that residential neighborhood.

Amarillo pushes its pedal to the metal

Amarillo’s City Council members — four of them at least — might need an intervention of sorts.

They’ve become suddenly obsessed with speed. I don’t get this decision in the least.

The council voted 4-1 to increase speed limits on Interstate 27 from Hillside Road to Bell Street to 65 mph. Brian Eades, a physician when he’s not making city policy, was the lone “no” vote. I feel compelled to mention Eades’s profession because — even as an ob-gyn — he has a keener sense, it seems, of the health risks involved in this decision.

Council member shouldn’t need to be reminded that the stretch of highway where it’s going to be legal to drive 65 mph isn’t exactly in the middle of nowhere. It remains a fairly heavily traveled stretch of highway. As Dr. Eades noted, “This is not a low-volume traffic area. I think they’re being too aggressive in setting faster speed limits to the public’s detriment.”

The Texas Department of Transportation recently boosted speeds to 75 from Bell to the southern city limits. That area, too, can see heavy traffic volume.

The city acted on a recommendation from my old buddy, Amarillo Police Capt. Jeff Lester, who said a 65-mph speed limit between Hillside and Bell would make for an easier transition to the 60 mph limits north of Hillside for motorists coming in from the 75-mph race track south of the city on Interstate 27.


I just cannot quite fathom this need to boost speed limits along an increasingly urban interstate highway.

As I’ve noted many times in the past, these speed limits aren’t being followed as it is. Post a 60 mph speed limit and drivers will push it to 65 or faster; 65 gets pushed to 70 and beyond; and 75 gets pushed to — gulp! — 80.

What’s the rush?