According to a recent news story, the statement that "Everything is bigger in Texas" continues to ring true. Governor Rick Perry cut the ribbon to open the 41-mile of road between Austin and San Antonio, which now claims the highest speed limit in the nation - 85 mph. Keeping in mind that most people exceed the posted speed limits by 5 to 10 mph, everyone from motorists to safety groups are weighing in on the benefits and risks of travelling at such a high rate of speed and opening the door for other states to increase their speed limits. Which brings us to the question, should Pennsylvania increase its speed limits on roadways deemed to be safe for high-speed travel?
Considering Centre County's Drug Highway - I-80
The first roadway that comes to mind is I-80. I've heard more than one person joking that if they get pulled over they'll just tell the officer they were confused and thought the speed limit was 80 mph. Of course, the speed limit is 65 mph, but most people exceed that by the almost expected 5-10 mph. If the Pennsylvania legislature were to approve an increase in the speed limit to 70 on this roadway, then the speeds would surely and easily reach 80 mph. Given the number of accidents and deaths on I-80 at the current speed, is it safe to assume that a higher rate of speed will only increase those statistics? At the very least, it must be acknowledged that higher rates of speed call for greater focus on the part of the driver, and the term "focused driver" has become sort of an oxymoron given all the distractions motorists have in their cars.
Penn State Travelers
Many a Penn State student has travelled I-80 for a weekend home and for holiday breaks, with the police presence exceptionally high during these times. In the Penn State student's urgency to get home for a much-needed break from school, it's not unusual for the speedometer to creep far past what is legally allowed. Depending on how much the student's speed exceeded the legal limit, the consequences may include the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania being several dollars richer at the student's expense as well as the imposition of points on the student's license. And certainly, Penn State students are not the only motorists being cited for having a lead foot. I can think of at least one State College defense lawyer who has plea bargained for a non-moving violation to save on license points. Even good lawyers get caught.