Texas speed limits bill passes initial hurdle
A bill that would allow cities to lower speed limits is advancing through the Texas Legislature.
Driving the news: Senate Bill 1663, filed by Houston Democratic Sen. Carol Alvarado, passed the Texas Senate with a 23-8 vote this week. The bill received bipartisan support, although all eight votes against it were from Republicans — including Houston's Paul Bettencourt.
- The bill would allow cities to lower speed limits on residential streets to 20 mph without having to conduct traffic studies and other time-consuming and costly tasks.
Why it matters: For pedestrians, the lower the speed, the more likely they are to survive a collision.
- The risk of pedestrian death is 10% at 23 mph, according to AAA. It jumps to 25% at 32 mph and increases as the speed gets higher.
- The risk of death is higher for children and older people, even at slower speeds.
The other side: "There's not a lot of [difference] between 20 and 25," Houston-area Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst said on the Senate floor Monday. "I'm just a little concerned that on some stretches that they could be potentially lowering the speed limit when it's a little bit inappropriate."
- Kolkhorst ultimately voted against the bill.
What's next: The House will vote on a similar bill as soon as Wednesday. If it passes, a group of appointed lawmakers will hash out the differences and a consolidated bill will go back to both chambers for a final vote before making its way to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
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