In May 2013 the Texas State Legislature approved and required a pilot program to evaluate variable speed limits. Variable speed limits were piloted in areas identified as having conditions warranting temporary lower speed limits, including inclement weather conditions, congestion, and construction. Three sites were selected: westbound Loop 1604 in San Antonio, southbound I-35 in Temple, and I-20 in both directions at Ranger Hill in Eastland County.
Over the three month pilot period, there were over 400 activations of temporary speed limits, most commonly for congestion and least commonly for weather. Most activations lasted for less than an hour, but others lasted as long as 10 hours. Speed limits typically changed multiple times per activation.
During the variable speed limit pilot in Texas, two safety benefits were observed.
- Total number of crashes overall was reduced.
- At two of the three sites there was a reduction in the number of crashes.
- Crash severity at all pilot sites was reduced.
- There were no fatal or incapacitating crashes reported at any of the pilot sites during the three month test period.
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