May I see your driver’s license and registration, please?
I was a freshly-minted driver, 16 and carefree, and driving down the new county road extension with my friend Tina. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction was blasting from the cassette player in my 1977 Dodge Aspen, and Tina said to me, “You actually like this music?” I laughed.
Then I saw the lights flashing in my rear view mirror. My heart accelerated to warp speed, and I pulled over, as I knew I was supposed to do. I rolled my windows down all the way and then placed my hands in full display at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel.
“Miss, do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Was I speeding?” I asked, nervously.
“Driver’s license and registration, please,” he said.
I handed him my driver’s license and reached into my glove box, pulling out a pink piece of paper triumphantly.
The officer unfolded the slip of paper and stifled a laugh.
“This… is a receipt for tires,” he said, suppressing a guffaw.
Red-faced, I reached back into the glove box and retrieved the proper form. He took pity on me and gave me a warning for going 65 in a 50 mph zone.
I can’t drive 55… but I do observe the speed limit (usually)
I am careful these days, especially after becoming a mother, to watch my speed on the highway. But when I’m on a track, all bets are off (the fastest I have driven was 151 mph in a Winston Cup car at a track in Atlanta). However, there are some highways across America that are faster than others, and these are the closest routes you can find to the no-holds-barred Autobahn in Germany.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, despite positive progress in increased seat belt usage and fewer drunk driving deaths, speeding continues to contribute to a significant number of deaths on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving (which includes speeding) as “committing a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Some states have passed aggressive-driving laws in the effort to reduce fatalities, including: speeding, running a red light, failure to yield, following too closely, and improper passing, among other infractions.
The fastest highway in America
Here in Texas, we retain a little of the Wild West feel, with the highest posted speed limit in the United States. Down near the Austin airport, State Highway 130 (SH 130) is a highway that runs in a 131-mile (211 km) corridor east and south of Austin. Along the tolled section, the speed limit is posted at 80 mph, and on one specific 41-mile section, the speed limit is posted at 85 mph. YEE HAW.
Suggestion: take Kia’s new sport dynamo, the Stinger, for a spin on SH130. Or a Lamborghini Aventador S, or a Porsche Panamera.
…And the rest of the West
In Montana, you can drive 80 mph across Interstate 90, observing the wildlife in Big Sky Country.
Out in Wyoming, you can accelerate to 80 mph on Interstate 25 and no one will bat an eye.
Once upon a time, there were no speed limits in New Mexico. That all changed in the 1950s, and these days, the posted speed limit from the Texas state line to Las Cruces, New Mexico is 75 mph.
Utah and Nebraska have 80 mph speed limits on select rural interstate highways; North Dakota and South Dakota further allow drivers to hit 75 mph legally over urban interstates.
Perhaps because of the large populations of the East Coast, fewer areas have speed limits above 70. Maine is the outlier, topping out at 75.
Now, that’s not to say that you might see an auto club of exotic cars speeding by on a curvy rural route somewhere; just the other day, I saw a parade of Lamborghinis and McLarens exploring an area west of Austin, nose to tail. Maybe they were on their way to SH130 to push the speed limit past 85 and end their journey, fittingly, at the Circuit of the Americas race track.
There you go, Leadfeet. Stay (relatively) close to the speed limit as much as possible and stay safe out there.