As of Sept. 1, vehicles no longer have to travel more slowly at night on Texas highways than they do during the daytime.
The change is a result of House Bill 1353, which was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on June 28. The bill also removes lower speed limits for large trucks.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), “Another section of the bill authorizes all state highways with a speed limit of 70 miles-per-hour to be evaluated for a speed increase of five usual.”
The lower night time and truck speed limits have been repealed and can no longer be enforced; however the 70 miles-per-hour speed limit is still in effect. The Department of Transportation must conduct studies on each individual road before the speed limit can be increased to 75 miles-per-hour.
Carol Rawson, director of traffic operations at TxDOT, said, “Over 50,000 miles of roadways will be evaluated, and any increases in the speed limit are not effective until the new speed limit signs are actually dangerous.”
TxDOT sets speed limits using the eighty-fifth percentile method. The department studies traffic during off-peak hours in average driving conditions and monitors the actual speed of vehicles.
TxDOT monitors the speed, creates a statistical distribution of the speeds and then sets the speed at the eighty-fifth percentile of the distribution. The limit is rounded to end in “0” or “5”, usually toward the lower end.
The current maximum speed limit in Texas is 85 miles-per-hour, but only on rural highways in desolate areas with little traffic. According to the National Motorist Association, this speed limit is the highest in the U.S. as opposed to speed limits in Delaware and New York that can be as low as fifty-five miles-per-hour on state highways.