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Slower speed limits fine within city limits

October 11, 2018

If a 50 mph speed limit in town is too low for you, you need to slow down. That’s hardly a turtle’s pace, and in fact some people drive that speed on actual highways. The state highway department made the right decision to lower the speed limit on North Major Drive in Beaumont between Folsom and Delaware. The previous speed limit along that stretch was 55 mph or even 60 mph. As usual, some drivers think they can go a few miles faster than the posted speed limit and avoid a ticket.

Granted, Major Drive looks like a highway to some people. It has two lanes in each direction and a turning lane in between. But it’s not on vacant land between here and Houston. It’s in a city, with businesses along the side and periodic traffic signals. It’s almost surprising that the speed limit was set as high as 60 mph in the first place.

The Texas Department of Transportation deserves credit for doing this the right way — responding to citizen complaints and looking at the accident record. That 1.3-stretch saw 76 wrecks from February 2015 and February 2018. That’s a lot. In fact, it’s too much.

Motorists trying to leave businesses on Major found the challenge more dangerous than it should be, with fast-moving vehicles bearing down on them. The First Baptist Church even had to hire police officers to help members exit the parking lot after services on Sundays. “They wouldn’t be able to get out otherwise,” said the Rev. Jean-Paul Osteen. None of us needs that much tension for what should be a routine task within the city.

Keep in mind that just last month Southeast Texas saw two horrific vehicle accidents that claimed five lives in one day, including a mother and three children under 10 years of age on Interstate 10. That tragedy came less than two weeks after three teenagers were killed in one accident in Hardin County. Those wrecks don’t include the almost-daily toll of other wrecks that kill or severely injure someone.

Many causes lie behind these wrecks, such as the modern danger of distracted driving, where motorists are often talking or texting on cellphones instead of focusing on the road in front of them. But speed affects almost every accident. If you’re going 40 mph, you have more time to adjust if another vehicle stops in front of you or you approach a red light. If you’re blasting along at 60 mph or faster, your reaction time and the margin for error are reduced — sometimes tragically.

Driving faster on a highway is one thing, especially in rural areas under good conditions with light traffic. Driving that fast within a city is just not as safe, and some motorists need to understand that basic difference.

From now on, it’s not an option along that section of Major. Drive slower there — and other places within city limits. Your car insurance — and maybe your health insurance — will be cheaper if you do.

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