AUSTIN (KXAN) — To make drivers slow down and keep people safe, a state lawmaker is putting forth a proposal that would make a uniform speed limit for neighborhoods throughout the state.
State Rep. Celia Israel, a Democrat whose district includes Pflugerville and parts of north Austin, filed House Bill 1287 on Feb. 1.
The bill, if approved, would lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph in residential streets through neighborhoods in Texas.
“When we lose Texans on Texas highways, it is never acceptable, and we’ve been losing more and more Texans,” Israel told KXAN. “We’re now well in excess of 3,500 [fatalities] a year, so we’re heading in the wrong direction.”
Israel said a lot of neighborhoods, particularly in Austin, already have a speed limit of 25 mph. However, for people who’d like to make drivers slow down by their homes, they have to first clear bureaucratic hurdles, like speed studies, to institute such a change.
“Cities love this,” Israel said, “number one, because it means more people survive whenever there is an accident, and, number two, it saves them money.”
Israel said a study she reviewed by AAA revealed that even that small difference of lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 mph raises someone’s odds of surviving a crash by more than 50 percent.
“This is our way to say, ‘Everybody calm down. You don’t have to drive quite as fast,'” Israel said. “I think five miles an hour is a small price to pay. As we’ve seen, a lot of our neighborhoods want it already, and they’ve asked for the study, so this is going to help a lot of people.”
It’s unclear how seriously state legislators will consider HB 1287 this time around.
During the last legislative session, Israel filed the same bill, but she said time ultimately ran out before it could be fully discussed.