- R.E Lopez & Morales Attorneys At Law
The fight to lower speed limits in North Texas
By Tasha Tsiaperas, Jay R Jordan
A series of bills in the Texas Legislature aim to make it easier for cities to lower speed limits on residential streets.
Driving the news: Senate Bill 1663, which moved out of committee last week, would allow cities to lower speed limits on residential streets to 20 mph without having to go through costly traffic studies.
A similar bill is moving through the state House.
Why it matters: For pedestrians, the lower the speed, the more likely they are to survive a collision.
The risk of death is 10% at 23 mph, according to AAA.
It jumps to 25% at 35 mph and increases as the speed gets higher.
State of play: State law allows counties to lower speed limits on residential streets in unincorporated areas to 25 mph, but cities have to conduct traffic studies, enforcement investigations and other time-consuming and costly tasks before taking a similar action.
The bills would essentially give cities the same privileges as counties.
What they're saying: "It's literally life and death," Jay Blazek Crossley, who oversees the Texas-based nonprofit Farm & City, told Axios. "On our streets where we live, the idea that we design them to be dangerous for children and all of us is just unacceptable."
The other side: Rachel Hale, who represented the Texas Eagle Forum during a recent hearing on the Senate bill, said the legislation is "harmful to families" because it's too broad.
Hale said the effort is part of Vision Zero — an attempt to reduce traffic deaths in Dallas and other large cities — and would make drivers "so miserable that they switch to mass transit, walking or biking."
By the numbers: Among the most populous cities in the country, Dallas has the second-highest traffic fatality rate, per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
Dallas recorded 228 traffic fatalities in 2021, 61 of which were pedestrians.
In Fort Worth, out of a total of 128 traffic deaths in 2021, 38 were pedestrians.