American drivers don’t have an Autobahn, but our highways have gotten increasingly faster since the national 55 mph restriction was lifted nearly two decades ago. In some states, a lot faster. Despite the objections of safety advocates, Texas now has both the single fastest highway in the country — a toll road with an 85 mph speed limit — as well as the fastest average allowable speed (78.3 mph) when you factor in all its various limited-access roads. Idaho comes in second with an average speed of 76.7 mph. Drivers looking to get somewhere fast might steer clear of the District of Columbia and Alaska, which have the nation’s lowest top speeds (55 mph), according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. More states are allowing drivers to put the pedal to the metal. Besides Texas, three other states now have top speeds of at least 80 mph — Idaho, Utah and Wyoming — with another dozen pushing their limits up to 75. It’s been four decades since the Mideast oil shock rattled the nation and Congress enacted a national 55 mph speed limit to conserve scarce fuel — and improve highway safety. The full list of state speed limits is here.
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-Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau