El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — On Sept.1, a new law goes into effect in Texas that allows speed limits on highways to be changed depending on the weather conditions and construction.
House Bill 1885 was passed in June and allows the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to temporarily change speed limits, depending on conditions.
The speed limit can be changed due to inclement weather, congestion, road construction, or any other condition on the roadway that affects safety.
“House Bill 1885 actually empowers TxDOT engineers, without approval from the Texas Transportation Commission, to temporarily change traffic speeds, speed limits in work zones, or in weather conditions that are poor. And so this is key to traffic safety management for us,” said Jennifer Wright, a spokesperson for TxDOT El Paso.
According to the bill, the changes in speed limit will be posted on stationary or portable, changeable signs on the highway.
“Those dynamic message signs, or DMS, can be changed within minutes. So it will be very smooth once we have all the protocols in place through text. But statewide, this will be something that will be very easy to implement in times of emergency,” Wright said.
The temporary changes can’t be less than 10 mph below the existing speed limit. The change is only effective when the speed limit change is posted, notifying drivers no less than 500 feet but no more than 1,000 feet before the point where the limit will change.
According to the TxDOT Crash Record Information System Crash Data Analysis, it shows that in 2021 in El Paso, there were 91 crashes where failing to control speed was a contributing factor and 21 crashes where unsafe speed was a contributing factor.
Some El Pasoans think it will be a good reminder during severe weather in the Borderland.
“I think it’s a nice reminder and it’ll become an awareness thing. Sometimes we’ll just know that the speed limit is 60 and not even take under (consideration) conditions of wet pavement that we should slow down. And it’s just because we get in a hurry and are doing our normal routine things,” said El Pasoan Sabrina Mora.
“I think that maybe it’ll help accidents when it’s really bad because we’re not used to it,” said El Pasoan Lori Armendariz.