Stretches of German autobahns have no speed limit, although they have an advised limit of about 81 mph.
In Texas, drivers on one road will be able to top that legally. Last month, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to bump up the limit for a 41-mile portion of a 91-mile toll road between Austin and San Antonio to 85 mph. That stretch of highway will have the highest speed limit in the United States.
The commission’s action begs the question: What impact might such a speed limit have on dealerships’ vehicle sales, repairs, service and even collision work? The answer depends on whom you ask.
Many rural roads in the Lone Star State post an 80 mph speed limit. So some Texas car dealers say the stretch of highway at 85 mph won’t have a big impact their operations.
“It’s such a short distance of road, I don’t think it’s enough to change anybody’s driving habits or car-buying habits,” said Mitchell Dale, owner of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas.
Many reports show a correlation between increased speed limits and a rise in fatal accidents, but Dale said the high speeds likely will not lead to more collisions.
“The toll ways lend themselves to higher speeds and can still be safe,” Dale said. “It’s more of a controlled freeway with controlled access.”
But another Texas dealer sees a possible benefit to business.
Billy Vaughn, vice president of Kahlig Auto Group in San Antonio, says that if more motorists travel the toll way at high speed, vehicles would be in better condition and used-car prices could rise.
“You know the old saying: A used vehicle being driven highway miles is better because there’s less wear and tear on it,” Vaughn says. “I think that’s still true even if it’s being driven at 85 mph.”