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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I can’t see driving 85

It’s remarkable that the Texas government is in the process of upping their speed limit to 85 mph on over 500 miles of main roads. Perusing through some of the Texas newspaper comments indicates that there is a strong majority in favor of this action. One notable commentator said “They’ve never had a problem on Germany’s Autobahn (where there is no speed limit), so why not raise it here?”

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Perhaps this particular observer has not yet examined some of the Autobahn’s recent troubles: Two summers ago, on a day when “heavy rain suddenly gave way to blinding sunshine, catching motorists unaware,” more than 65 people were injured in a massive pileup, including 10 critically.

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In early April of this year, 50 more cars were involved in another massive Autobahn pile-up, caused in part by a blinding sandstorm, created by plowed neighboring agriculture fields. This fiery crash left 10 dead and almost 100 injured.

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One of my co-travelers has observed that I often drive like a country bumpkin. Perhaps it’s because, while negotiating local roads, I think of these dicey situations and my own beloved ones lost in fiery crashes. And my personal grief is not isolated, as our country loses over 30,000 motor travelers a year to road deaths; many of them on high speed rural roads.

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However, since I’m mostly unfamiliar with Texas roads, maybe there’s something safer about them, that I’m not considering. It would be nice to hear from Dallas to see what that insightful Times-News frequent letter contributor Max Hatfield’s take is on this. As for myself, I can’t see how a dawdling country bumpkin like me can be reasonably expected to merge safely from highway ramps, onto the Interstate, with oncoming traffic buzzing at 85 and even faster!

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