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Will higher "night" speed limits mean more Texas truck accidents?

A new law takes effect tomorrow that will do away with different speed limits for day and night driving in the state of Texas. Overall, night speeds will be increased by up to five miles per hour under the new law.

Many people support the change, but there are still some that oppose it, fretting that it could lead to more fatal accidents involving passenger cars and semi-trucks in the state.

Those who are against the new law say that staggered speed limits for day and night are necessary in a state like Texas that has such a high frequency of trucking on its highways.

They point out that big-rigs travelling 55 mph take about the distance of a football field to come to a stop after applying the brakes, so raising nighttime speed limits by 5 mph combined with poor visibility in the dark could be a deadly mix.

However, state officials are convinced that highway safety will actually improve in Texas when the speed limits are consistent during the day and at night. Truckers in the state appear to agree with the change in speed limits as well, saying that the staggered speed limits are actually unsafe.

"We end up losing a lot of time and not being able to get down the road to a safer place to stay like a truck stop," one veteran Texas truck driver said of the current slower speed limits at night.

Each year, 400 Texans are killed in collisions with tractor-trailers, many times due to truck driver negligence and improperly maintained trucks. Hopefully this change in the law will reduce the number of fatalities instead of increasing it. Only time will tell.

Source: Dallas-St. Worth KDAF-TV, "Critics fear more fatalities, as Texas preps to do away with lower "night" speed limits," Aug. 30, 2011.

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