A new law allowing local authorities to alter speed limits based on road conditions will come into effect on September 1.
Initially sponsored by Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), HB 1885 was signed into law in June. It enables local Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials to temporarily adjust speed limits on stretches of road exhibiting hazardous conditions caused by inclement weather or construction.
While officials will be able to act without approval from state transportation commissioners, they must follow the recommendations made by engineers and traffic researchers.
Moreover, such reductions in speed cannot be greater than 10 mph and will only be in effect in places where motorists have been alerted to the changes. Several means might be used to inform motorists that the speed limit has been reduced in a given area.
Regarding the new flexible speed limits, pilots run by the TxDOT in 2013 and 2014 helped inform the drafting of the new rule.
“That pilot demonstrated that variable speed limits resulted in a safety benefit at each location where it was implemented,” Canales argued, per The Texas Tribune.
While some lawmakers were concerned that the measure could be misused to set speed traps, Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) backed the bill in the Senate.
Weighing in from the perspective of an experienced former TxDOT commissioner, Nichols stressed the need to address safety concerns.
“Transportation is a very nonpartisan issue. The roads belong to everybody,” Nichols said, according to The Texas Tribune.