SH130: The Fastest Highway in the U.S.A.
State Highway 130 runs from its concurrent route along I-35 in San Antonio, up through Seguin, north through Pflugerville and eventually ending in Georgetown. It handles a fair amount of traffic and has its fair share of injuries and fatalities. According to statistics cited by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 37 people have died on SH 130 since the speed limit was modified in 2012 to allow cars to go 85 mph, making it the fastest highway in the United States. However, one wonders if it was worth it - the families of those injured or killed might say no.
Higher speeds make travel immeasurably more dangerous. TxDOT statistics show that roughly 750 people died in speed-involved crashes in Texas in 2017, with many of those deaths being the speeding drivers themselves, but too many were passengers or even innocent bystanders. Most causes of highway crashes can be linked at least indirectly back to elevated speed - for example, if someone has an accident in poor weather, it is highly likely that they will have been traveling too fast for the weather conditions. If someone is engaging in distracted driving, it is common for their speed to increase beyond the posted limits without their knowledge.
If you are injured in a highway accident, the most common theory under which most people bring suit is negligence, which has three criteria that must be met. A duty to exercise reasonable care is put on all motorists on any given road. In order to show negligence, you must show that the driver breached that duty, which caused tangible harm to you (not necessarily physical, but something more substantial than cuts and bruises) and that they did so via their conduct, with no other superseding cause. If you are able to establish these criteria, you have a good shot at prevailing in your case.
SH 130 Is a Special Case
In the case of SH 130, however, there may also be individualized factors that have contributed to a significant increase in accidents and ‘problematic driver behavior’ on that road. In 2012, the toll road section of the highway opened, and investigation by Austin media shows that a private toll road company provided a $100 million investment payment to post the speed limit on that section of SH 130 at 85 mph. In theory, the higher speed was intended to ‘incentivize’ drivers, particularly truckers, to take SH 130 instead of other roads like I-35, hopefully alleviating some of Austin’s traffic problems. This has not been borne out. Instead, accident rates have only risen.
The private road operator, who originally proffered the incentive payment has since gone bankrupt; traffic metrics for the road have simply not been what was forecasted. Statistics from 2016 showed that actual traffic was 60 percent lower than estimated, and much of this has been postulated to be due to tolls. Most drivers prefer free roads, even if they are busy and congested, so the only people who chose to take SH 130 tend to be those who want to go fast on the relatively open road. This can lead to serious danger for those just minding their own business.
Contact a New Braunfels Accident Attorney
While questions remain about the safety of SH 130, it is nonetheless true that accidents can happen on any highway. If you have been injured in a highway accident, it is a good idea to consult an attorney to see what your options are in terms of getting your medical bills covered. The skilled New Braunfels car crash attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm can try to help answer any questions you may have, and work with you on how best to proceed. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.