Is 85 MPH The Safest Speed Limit?

I have no clue, but  some studies by traffic engineers would have shown that 85 mph is, believe it or not, the safest speed to travel on any given stretch of road. I just read 2 years ago that Europe, where overall roads and highways have higher posted speed limits, the number of accidents, injured and deaths per mile traveled is much lower than in the US.

A CBS Texas station just reported that driving 85 mph could soon be a legal reality, at least on Texas highways. The State House has passed a bill that would give the Department of Transportation power to raise the current speed limit. If the bill is voted in Texas Senate, the Lone Star State would have the highest speed limit in the nation. New engineering tests and traffic studies are requested by opponents, with Jerry Johns from the Insurance Institute claiming that higher speed limits would create more accidents, more injuries and more deaths, but without giving any statistics to support his statement.  (thank you Keith Thomas),

38 Responses to “Is 85 MPH The Safest Speed Limit?”

  1. 1 nicker Apr 8th, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Depends on how well your suspension can handle chuck-holes.

    If CA roads get any worse 45 MPH won’t be a safe speed.


  2. 2 just my opinion Apr 8th, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    The speed limit is already 80 miles per hour across most of interstate 10 between houston and el paso. There is also a section of interstate 15 in Utah that is 80 miles per hour. Seems like a safe speed to me but I can see where some of the truckers pulling out in front of faster moving vehicles trying to pass another truck doing 40 when they are only doing 40.2 miles per hour could be dangerous in some situations. But if the vehicles that are using the left hand or “get er done lane” must do at least 70 there should be no problems. And lets be honest most of us already do 80 on most highways anyway. I know I do because as Sammy Hagar says ” I can’t drive Fifty Five”

  3. 3 Rob Campbell Apr 8th, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I agree with Nicker–it’s all about road quality, more than anything.

  4. 4 Wiz Apr 9th, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Homey don’t do 55! I usually blast at 90/95 mph all the time with my 6×10 enclosed trailer in tow whenever I’m picking-up or deliverin’ my custom bikes from Connetecut to LA. On the way back from Florida a couple of weeks ago my tranny finally gave up the goose on my ’99 Chevy Silverado pick-up I use fer haulin’ ass!. I had a special tranny built just for my style of jammin’. It’s got Corvette gears, oil coolers, enlarged some passages and restricted others, just generally souped it up. So, this old pick-up has got a Corvette tranny in it, a kick-ass stereo, ‘an a loose nut behind the steerin’ wheel. Got nailed in Iowa, so I think I otta git a $99. Fuzz Buster before I head out again. Wiz

  5. 5 DJ Apr 9th, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Something to think about is that the 55 MPH limit we all are familiar with was never about being safe.. It was a fuel saving measure during the gas crisis. Vehicles today are built to go faster and stop better then ever before. Even a crap sub compact is better engineered then just about any “performance” car of the 60’s, 70’s, or even 80’s. How safe it is to drive fast has NOTHING to do with the car or even the road. It is that dizzy non driving f*ck in the car next to you texting, putting on make-up, playing with ipods or what ever else is going on at the moment you have to be worried about. Where I live about 85% of the people can not handle our 55 MPH speed limit on our interstate’s.

  6. 6 zyon Apr 9th, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Insurance companies in Texas are salivating right now….triple rates for everyone! I live in PA and since I ride a rigid, I know exactly how bad PA roads are. 85 will never happen here. Hell, many of our highways are still 45mph.

  7. 7 SCOTT Apr 9th, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Most trucks can’t run 65 anymore, they’ve slowed them all down for fuel savings, which is huge between 70 and 62, about $4,000.00 per year per truck. 85 would probably be o.k. on good highway as long as everyone paid full attention to the road. Since we know that won’t happen I can’t say as this is a very good idea. Maybe they think there’s too many Texans and want to thin them out or something.

  8. 8 Dakota Biker Apr 9th, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Don’t know if 85 is the safest speed, but has definitely been my preferred interstate cruising speed on my Dyna Wideglide. Especially in long stretches.

  9. 9 Troll42 Apr 9th, 2011 at 7:13 am

    If you have ever driven between LA and Las Vegas on the I-15 then you know that if you are not going at least 80-85 mph then you are getting passed like you are standing still.
    I agree that the old speed limits were to save fuel with the “guzzelers” of the past. The cars made now are geared to save fuel and make time !!! Be careful out there !!!

  10. 10 Gas Man Apr 9th, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Sweet… then I wouldn’t be speeding doing my daily/normal speed. Step on it boys!

  11. 11 John Hansen Apr 9th, 2011 at 7:23 am

    It seems that a lot of folks want the 85mph, lol, made legal since most folks are going faster. I don’t see it, hey, most vehicles won’t take the strain of engines turning that many RPM’s all day. I travelled extensively on Interstates not long after I retired, for 13 months, driving 43,500 miles. Seldom did I drive my little four-cylinder Ranger over 65. It just isn’t necessary unless a person is one of those reckless folks who need to be someplace they should have been at yesterday. Lol, this “Old fogey” would like to see limits back to 55. And, no, the Old Fogey isn’t going to stay home and off the roads. Like the sticker says on the rear of my Ranger; ” Yeah, that’s right, I got all day. And, week, and month, so, just go around!”

  12. 12 zyon Apr 9th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I wonder if Virginia will expunge my 87 in a 55 I got last October going down to Disney on I95 if they bump the limit up to 85. That was an expensive drive. Over $400 in fines and a 30-day suspension in the state. I’m headed down there in June and I bet my ass I don’t go over 55 through that state again.

  13. 13 Gio Santa Mamba Apr 9th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Stop comparing Europe or any continent with us. Let’s focus here.
    It’s not the speed limit what is going to save Lifes, it’s all about the education and the lack of human sense during the driving process (Safety and Prevention). There is none or some. People will do whatever they want if they can get away with it (texting, drinking, speeding etc) .
    We are 50% more to learn the visual way. I will offer to our education system at all DMV programs to add the visit to the Morgue to revise driving deaths related before they issue a Driver License.
    To bad sometimes we choose to learn the hard way.

    Thank you.

  14. 14 Mark Apr 9th, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Not until we get real driver training and people stop playing with……their…..hand….held….device.The average US driver is either not paying attention, untrained, ignorant of highway law or just plain rude. And we have great disparity in driving skills. Indiana and Florida have the worst drivers. California drivers are the best. And , yes, California is ready for 85mph, but unfortunately, their highways are too clogged with cars to permit it. I’m ready to drive and ride at 85 and would be comfortable and having fun there, but the idiots around me?

    (Ohio Rider/Driver)

  15. 15 1550tc Apr 9th, 2011 at 10:29 am

    bike set up right and the right road conditions , 85 no beefs here……at 85 you better have all your baubles and trinckets bolted tight down

    but at 85 and all the gadgets in cars ??????? guys are on phones gps FUCKING TEXTING, kids playing with play stations looking for a plug in ect, if your doing 85 near cities or congested traffic pay attention

    if all the gadgets were like f 18 fighter heads up displays or you had a nascar spotter for you, id feel a lil safer

  16. 16 tom Apr 9th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    What happened to keep right except to pass

  17. 17 Jeff Nicklus Apr 9th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    The proposed law will only apply to “newly built super highways” (whatever the hell a super highway is) in Texas. Existing highways will keep thier existing posted speeds.

    FYI: No new highways have been funded in Texas as of this date …. so it may be some time before I am legal …. I mean, the speed limit is 85mph.

    Over & Out,


  18. 18 Jeff Nicklus Apr 9th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    One more thing …. If you are not doing 80+ mph in and around Houston on the freeways you will get your ass ran over, or in some cases, shot!

    Over & Out,


  19. 19 Hondo Cat Apr 9th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Unless I’m in an absolute hurry to meet a time deadline, I prefer not to travel on the interstate or any other four-lane (or more) highway. Two-lane, scenic drives through small town USA are much more pleasurable. Takes me back in time when everything moved at a slower pace.

  20. 20 chicagojohn Apr 10th, 2011 at 6:50 am

    I agree that 85 mph is safer, on most highways here in chicago everyone is going 85. People stop texting when the traffic is really moving fast, and when it slows down, you see alot of people on their phones. But they will never legally raise the limit, its still “55” and the state troopers have one hell of a business going, with most speeding tickets at $120 !!

  21. 21 Mike Greenwald Apr 10th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Jeff Nicklus,

    The “super highway” is NAFTA being built between Mexico and Canada. This limited access road will not be run by the US federal or state governments. Not sure that any Texas state law will have any effect other than ceremonial.

  22. 22 Heavy Metal Apr 10th, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Don’t forget about the texters and cell phone blabbers, less time for them to react at 85. If 85 is the limit then that will make the 8 mph over people run 93. We all know that the serious texter and cell phone blabber has complete control of their vehicle. It’s always the other guy that causes accidents.

  23. 23 zyon Apr 10th, 2011 at 11:12 am

    education is the true key to increasing speed limits. When I got my driver’s license, I drove around the block and complete a parallel park. I didn’t mess up so I got my license. When I got my Class M (motorcycle) I had to complete three consecutive figure 8’s without dropping my foot and then make a trip around the parking lot.

    It’s too easy to get a license and no remedial “checking up” besides a routine eye exam every 4 years.

    How many laws change each year and how many people know them. I think, at least a laws test every 4 years is common sense. Fail a laws test and you should not be on the road even if you can stay within the lines.

  24. 24 Richard Apr 10th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s safe for MOST drivers. Just do an inventory of people you know and have driven with. Would you want to ride with them at 85? Some people I know can’t handle 70 safely. They just are not aware of the implications of speed like reaction time, braking distance, and the consequences of abrupt evasive actions at 85 mph. And how about the impaired and drunk idiots. Also, don’t forget that MANY people will be doing 90 or 95 with a posted 85. Lastly, how about the real cost and dependence of the increased fuel usage? Great time to be thinking about decreasing MPG.

  25. 25 Lyle Apr 10th, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Not a good idea. There will be more accidents and the severity of them will be worse. Among other things, the speed differntial between the cars doing 85 and the slower traffic will create problems. Additionally other things like driver error, over correction, and mechanical failures (tires blowing etc) will cause more roll overs, etc. In my state, most of the fatal accidents are run off the road accidents caused by fatigue, distracted drivers, or unknown causes. Any accident a higher speed is going to be more severe than a slower speed accident.

  26. 26 Investment Software Apr 10th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    You present an interesting angle in regards to safest speed and its consequences. Thanks for the article and hope to read from you again. Well put Cyril.

  27. 27 Sportster Mike Apr 11th, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I was doing 100mph on my friends Kawa 900 in Germany a few years back
    No speed limit autobahn so I thought I’d nail the bike out (with his permission) after warming the bike and tyres up
    In the middle lane getting it on and I get passed by a Lambourghini doing 180mph+!!!
    Did I get brown trousers or what??
    NOT the fastest on the road that day…

  28. 28 Wiz Apr 11th, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Lyle, I was a private pilot for a number of years, and what you do while flying is “Small, gradual, gentle course corrections”. It applies to high-speed driving also. Wiz

  29. 29 Dj Apr 11th, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Let’s face it… All the education in the world ain’t goin to help the idiots of this country. You cant change stupid. If they raise the speed limit they need to raise the standard for testing in the dmv. Actually prove you can drive. Driving is a priviledge, not a right. Dont pass the test… Ride the bus

  30. 30 Lyle Apr 11th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Wiz, there’s plenty of room up in the air. But on the ground everyone uses the same adjacent 12′ wide lanes. In a plane, you don’t have intersections, sharp or blind corners, differential speeds, animals, farm equipment, etc. I’ve flown planes, driven automobiles, ride motorcycles, and reviewed each and every fatal accident in the state I work for. Many were caused by driver over correction. I know raising the speed limit isn’t safer. Besides the human and mechanical factors, there other roadway design issues such as increased clear zone distances requiring the need to have more breakaway structures or guardrail. More superelevation (which isn’t good in icy conditions) etc. Simply put 85 mph isn’t a good idea. It may be OK on some roads but not statewide.

  31. 31 Gary Hoisington Apr 11th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    The following comment is directed at drivers encased in their 3000 lb.. iron cocoon, not at the highly skilled motorcycle riders.

    I have driven the high speed motor-ways in Europe and the difference is not the speed but the driving skills.
    Don’t get all insulted when I say the typical driver in Europe is better than the driver in the states it’s just that they have, over time evolved a set of rules, courtesies and sensibilities that make it safe to drive fast.
    Not everyone drives that fast, the ones that do, know to signal their approach with flashing headlights (a behavior that would result in a face full of brake lights if you did it here). In Europe they know who owns the road and they have a great appreciation for the gift they have been given by the government. In the states, anyone that gets behind the wheel suddenly feels that the road is his and everyone else should drive the way that he wants or expects them to.
    In Europe EVERYONE understands the rules and expects all the other drivers to follow them the same way he does. He knows what to expect from other drivers in most situations. They are not surprised by unexpected reactions.
    In Europe, driving is the thing. It’s not about getting somewhere fast. Performance there is as much about car handling skills as it is about horsepower. You will have a hard time finding a car with a cup holder in it there because the car is for driving, the coffee shop is for sipping your latte.
    We have very selfish driving habits here and thats what gets us in trouble.
    next tine you are speeding down the road and a guy in the lane to your right signals that he would like to merge into your lane, try slowing a little and letting him in instead of speeding up to prenent him from getting ahead os you.

  32. 32 Ben Apr 11th, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Hey Mark,
    I’m sure Ohio has just as many per capita idiot drivers as Indiana, or any other state for that matter(though I do agree with Fla. #1). The problem here as has been mentioned, is the lack of attention paid to the task at hand. It is amazing to me that there isn’t constant carnage on the highway, the way people drive. I’m an 80 mph kinda guy myself. Maybe there should be a compentency test when you get your license (hahahahha…I know, I know) and people are licensed for the speed they are determined to be capable of. I lived in Texas for many years, the increased speed limit would be appropriate there….that effin place is BIG!!

  33. 33 cwglide Apr 11th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Motorcycles are not safe no matter what speed, 65 or 85 mph what is the difference? But i have to say it makes sense to open up the speed limit in rural out of nowhere long stretches of highway. Why is it that Germany with the Autobahn, and in Italy with the Autostrada can have no speed limit at all? Don’t understand why we cant either. Is it perhaps Europe has a more rigid DL application process?

  34. 34 Jeff Nicklus Apr 11th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Hey bottom line here: If you don’t feel safe driving at 85 mph …. DON’T! Keep your ass in the right lane and go about your business.

    Over & Out,


  35. 35 gtlover Apr 11th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Sounds like I agree with a lot of you guys. Driver education, proper vehicle mainenance, and well built, well maintained roads would make this not just possible, but also safe and efficient.

    Washington has most freeways at 60 in urban areas, increasing to 65 once you get out of the suburbs, and up to 75 out in the sticks. That said, most of the time traffic is going 5-10 MPH over the speed limit. The roads are mediocre, most people’s cars are OK, but very few drivers are really trained and/or aware enough to handle driving 85 (or faster) especially if conditions are less than perfect. Often I find that even if the speed limit was 85 on the roads I drive, the combination of traffic, weather, and bad pavement would still limit safe travel to 70 MPH at best, and usually averages 55-60.

  36. 36 Mike Greenwald Apr 11th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    If the vehicle set-up and equipment along with operator skills, all the “safety” education in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans.

    Years ago, many infiltrated ABATEs changed their name and mission to “Aimed Towards Education”. This move by these former motorcyclist rights organizations wrecked any chance of new or experienced riders to get a skillset riding education that was available prior to the change of name. At this point, many of these “Education” groups are welfare bikers on the government dole. They just suck up for government grant money while relinquishing liberty.

    How much is this new speed limit going to cost motorcyclists?

  37. 37 1550tc Apr 11th, 2011 at 5:14 pm


    gentle course corrections

    that is so true especially with today hard sidewalls in these 18-20 inch tires, you jerk that wheel while your eyes are off the road to avoid something while your testing and at over 75 your heading for a massive roll over, expecially in these high centre of gravity suveees

    at 93 or 8 over if they let you get away with????……..most drivers arent ready for 90 mile an hour interstates……..europeans have a whole different outlook and standards for vechiles and driving, like no semi’s on weekend on some highways, 80km stickers on vehciles wit new drivers ect…….some of the shit boxes on the 15-10-405 in LA, well that shit would not get past the toll gate on some highways in europe!

  38. 38 Wiz Apr 12th, 2011 at 3:39 am

    I agree there can and are many variables to consider at high speeds like potholes/changing road conditions, drivers pulling out without anticipating your approaching speed, mechanical failures, etc. It all comes down to a healthy respect and your vigilence/skill levels. My brother-in-law is a cop in Tulsa, OK and he told me the average motorist drives 5 to10 over the speed limit. If you are doing the exact speed limit he would pull you over ’cause you’re probably hiding something. I talked to another cop who said “9 yer fine, 10 yer MINE!!” YUK-YUK!! Wiz

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Cyril Huze