A New Law Concerning Variable Speed Limits

A new law that took effect on September 1, 2023, allows for the creation of variable speed limits under certain circumstances. The law is meant to expedite the imposition of temporary speed limits to help Texas motorists stay safe in dangerous driving conditions.

Drivers going too fast are a danger to themselves and others. How-fast-is-too-fast is defined not only by the speed limit, but by the road conditions. A variable speed limit closes the gap between the normal safe speed and the safe speed under the current conditions.

When Should Variable Speed Limits Be Imposed?

There are specific weather and road condition factors that could lead to a variable speed limit. The law allows engineers at the Texas Department of Transportation to make temporary adjustments to the normal speed.

The adjustment can’t be more than 10 miles per hour down from the regularly posted limit. The use of a variable speed limit would be tied to things like road construction, ice on the roads, heavy fog, or thunderstorms.

Road construction generally allows for more time in deciding to implement a reduced speed limit. The real advantage will be the ability to cut through red tape and quickly post a lower speed limit when bad weather or other unexpected factors make driving at the normal speed unsafe.

Is This an Excuse for Speed Traps?

This is not the first time Texas officials tried to pass a variable speed limit rule. Past efforts were defeated due to concerns that they would be used as an excuse to trick drivers into speeding infractions.

Speeding tickets aren’t a good way to endear yourself to the public, so the measures failed. This version of the law passed relatively easily, with the sponsor of the bill thanking increased education efforts for the different result.

Drivers with concerns can take solace in the limited scale of the variation (10 mph) and the fact that the change must be posted clearly with either digital signage or temporary signs placed over the top of the standard speed limit signs. A pilot program tested 10 years ago demonstrated that the rule did improve safety outcomes.

You don’t have to drive in Texas for long to come up against severe weather conditions. Driving in terrible weather is not fun. Less experienced or overly aggressive drivers can make the problem worse by refusing to reduce their speed to match the conditions. This new law can help address that problem quickly and efficiently.

Call for Experienced Personal Injury Advice

The Fell Law Firm offers caring, experienced representation to victims of car and truck accidents. Call our Dallas offices today at 972-450-1418 to schedule a consultation with a skilled attorney. You can also visit our website to learn more about personal injury advice.

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