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Is new 75 mph speed limit to blame for recent rash of deadly Big Country accidents?

By Michelle Frizalone, mfrizalone@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 31 2013 08:09:52 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 01 2013 12:30:27 PM CST
75mph limits
ABILENE, Texas -

Nine people have died in six crashes since last Friday in the Big Country, five of those accidents happened on rural roads. 

There’s been one big change in many rural spots – and it’s a faster speed limit.

Last session, the Texas Legislature passed a bill to raise the speed limit to 75 mph in some spots throughout the state.

"The US and State Highways that's been a fairly recent change," TxDOT spokesperson Darah Waldrip said.

So is speed to blame?

TxDOT said it's too early to tell whether the recent accidents were caused by speed. They will need the accident reports.

Larry Lewis drives on rural roads everyday and takes caution with his speed, especially at night.

"If the speed limit is 75, people are going to do 80 to 85,” Lewis said. “So yeah, it has a lot to do with it."

Lewis thinks a stop light is needed at Potosi Road and Highway 36. That’s where a crash killed a driver and one Abilene Christian University student.

"It’s been a blind spot since it was there,” Lewis said. “It's just bad always people getting hurt and killed there."

Waldrip said a team reviews all fatal crashes on state highways, but law enforcement determines the final cause of the accident

TxDOT provided tips if you're driving on rural roads:

  1. Keep your eyes moving- Look for flashes of light at hilltops, curves and intersections that may indicate the headlights of other vehicles.
  2. Watch your speed- Driving too fast is more problematic after dark than during the day because of decreased visibility. This is especially important in inclement weather, fog or when driving in unfamiliar areas.
  3. Avoid sudden moves- If you do drive off the roadway try to maintain control of the vehicle.
  4. Increase following distance- Increasing your distance by four to five seconds can make it easier to spot potential problems and respond.