Sep 13, 2012

EoT: We Can Drive 85!

Each week, Eyes on Texas looks at life in Texas through the eyes of those outside our state.

Many media outlets around the country were fascinated, if maybe a bit envious and frightened, of Texas’ newest claim to fame.

Come November, the Texas Department of Transportation will allow motorists on a stretch of new road between Austin to Seguin to drive 85 miles an hour – the highest official speed limit in the United States. USA Today and The Los Angeles Times focused on the safety angle (or lack thereof).  CBS News, in two pieces, wondered if the road is a “potential killer.”

The New York Daily News feature from Agence France-Presse compared the Texas stretch to the German Autobahn. NPR, which linked to a San Antonio Express-News piece and an older Austin-American Statesman column, notes that the new toll road (built by a Spanish company) will also generate big bucks for the state, with a premium for setting the speed limit at 85 mph.

This story brought out the Texan in just about every journalist, with a Tallahassee column (via AOL) even quoting lyrics from “The Eyes of Texas.” But The New York Times went whole hog with anecdotes about cowboy hats, pickup trucks and a revival of then Lt. Governor Rick Perry’s infamous reaction when stopped for speeding in 2000.

Lost in the national coverage is the reality that Central Texas is not exactly wide-open West Texas. The San Antonio piece quoted an Austin man “who regularly drives to Seguin to visit family” and “said he’ll likely use the road for convenience and the pleasure of driving fast.”  But a Houston Chronicle reader points out: “Is anyone really in that big of a hurry to get to Seguin Texas?”

Y’all drive safe out there!