It’s being discussed elsewhere how Texas raised the maximum speed limit last year to 85. The bill that did that was removing references to the Trans-Texas Corridor from statute, and it left that speed limit in place. That limit is unlikely to affect many roads.
There was another bill last year specifically about speed limits, and it will have a bigger effect. This bill cancelled the 65 mph night limit and 70 mph maximum truck limit, and raised the maximum limit on all highways to 75. Previously only highways in sparsely populated counties were allowed to have limits above 70. Nearly all rural Interstate highways that had limits of 70 have had limits increased to 75. Two-lane and four-lane roads are being studied and each month a few are approved for the higher limit.
I see obeying laws as a societal obligation, so I obey speed limits unless it’s unsafe to do so. Because of this, I have a history of being passed a lot. In my admittedly very limited experience, I’ve found that traffic on the Interstates with the higher limit (I’ve been on 20 and 35) is running noticeably more smoothly. Remember it isn’t just an increase from 70 to 75, but also an increase at night from 65 to 75. Previously I noticed more frequent and desperate passing, while now there’s much more occasional and gradual passing. I’m sure part of this is because I’m going faster and not being passed as much, but I notice the difference all around, not just right around me.
We seem to have found a speed limit that actually works. When I drive along at 70-75, day or night, traffic seems smoother. I still pass or get passed by a car or two, but not by big blocks of traffic. There’s the occasional speed demon and slowpoke, but mostly everyone seems to agree that 70-75 is the right speed. We’ll see what happens when more two-lane roads get speed limits of 75 in areas that aren’t ultra-rural. I’d be interested in seeing if there are any affects on road safety.
There’s still, of course, a lot of inordinately high speed on congested city freeways. I’d like someone to explain to me why people want to go so much faster when it’s most dangerous.
I remember reading some time back about a bunch of university presidents wanting to lower the drinking age to 18. They seem to think that the sense of rebelliousness and anarchy caused by knowingly breaking rules leads to heavier drinking, and that more permissive laws may reduce that. There seems to be a similar phenomenon with speed limits. Where the higher limits are posted, the rule-followers like me are going faster, and people seem more content and less desperate to get around everyone.