Hugh Pickens writes "Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, while some highways in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits. All that is about to change as Texas opens a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country, giving eager drivers a chance to rip through a trip between two of the state's largest metropolitan areas at 85 mph for a 41-mile toll road between Austin and San Antonio. While some drivers will want to test their horsepower and radar detectors, others are asking if safety is taking a backseat. A 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to increases in speed limits on all kinds of roads and that rural highways showed a 9.1 percent increase in fatalities on roads where speed limits were raised. 'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,' says Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. 'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"
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