Life in the very fast lane
TEXANS tend not to dawdle. As anyone who has driven on the Lone Star state’s freeways will tell you, Texan drivers enjoy a civilised and rapid rate of progress on the open road.
From November, they’ll be able to do so with a greater level of protection from their local police. A new toll road from the state capital of Austin to Seguin will have a speed limit of 85 miles an hour— or nearly 140km/h— a velocity that would have you handing in your licence throughout much of Australia.
Among general celebrations, there are one or two naysayers. The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up, says the appropriately named Russ Rader, spokesman for the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Rader is possibly unaware of Australia’s Northern Territory, where the introduction of a 130km/h speed limit in 2007 was followed by the NT’s worst road toll in a decade. The NT previously enforced no speed limits on its various highways, a situation that may now be restored.
‘‘ There comes a point where people have to make their own decisions and there are requirements on government to protect individuals and to set a standard,’’ Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills said this week.
Mills believes there is a argument for a return to the NT’s earlier, wonderfully unlimited speed policies.
‘‘ When it comes to places outside of the urban environment, beyond Katherine there may well be the case, and I think there is, provided the roads are in good condition.’’
That last-mentioned factor is key. Other states and territories should look at increasing highway speed limits in connection with road quality. THERE are about the same number of pages in an average Formula One driver’s contract as there were laps in last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
According to a piece by Nigel Roebuck in the latest edition of Britain’s Motor Sport magazine, your typical contract with F1 team McLaren runs to about 50 pages.
There will be variances, which might run to another 10 pages if it were a difficult person, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told Roebuck.
If I were signing Heikki Kovalainen it would be 50 pages; if it were Jenson Button it would be 52, if it were Nigel Mansell it would be 57.
Whitmarsh says that current McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton is a 60-page man. The first F1 contract signed by the late Gilles Villeneuve with McLaren in 1977 was six pages.
No slowpokes: Anewroad in Texas will have a speed limit of 140km/h