The other day I was driving in to work. It had rained during the night so the highway was wet.  Generally when the highway is wet I don’t activate the cruise control.  As I was driving along several cars passed me and continued to pull away.  When I Use the cruise control, I have it set to 72 or 73.  I checked the speedometer and noticed to my surprise I was going almost eighty miles per hour.  It occurred to me that those that passed me may have been driving closer to ninety miles per hour.

My wife and I live on US 281 north of Morgan Mill.  Over the last few years the highway has become a mean piece of highway.  There have been several fatalities along the highway and many nonfatal wrecks.  Along the stretch in front of our house, there are very few blind spots so the line of vision is good.  I have wondered way there are so many wrecks when drivers typically have a good view of the road.

Maybe one answer to the driving problems is the speed limit which is 75 in the county.  Given that many people drive above the speed limit, this means that many of our co-drivers are driving 80 miles per hour or faster.  When driving that fast, the vehicle will continue further down the road when the driver needs to take corrective action.  Last year I as attempted to pass a truck using a passing lane and increased my speed significantly.  A car in front of me slowed to turn left and I soon discovered I wasn’t going to be able to stop.  Fortunately no cars were coming in the opposite direction so I could pass the stopping car on the left.  Had I been moving more slowly, I may have been able to stop.  Given also that many drivers on their phones or texting, driving 80 or faster makes a bad situation worse.

It may now be time to look at the speed limit in the county.  Perhaps officials should look at lowering the speed limit back to 70.  I am not naive enough to think that everyone will limit their speed to 70, but it would slow everyone down some.  If one had to break or take evasive action their automobile would not travel so great a distance before coming to a stop or slowing to avoid a problem. 

Another problem with north 281 is the amount of traffic along the highway.  When we moved to our present location, you could barely hear traffic while outside.  Now it is very audible due to the increase in traffic.  We have more traffic, more distractions in the form of cell phones, and a 75 miles per hour speed limit.  We can’t control the number of vehicles on the road and really can’t control what the people are doing in their automobiles, but we can control how fast they can legally drive.  Five miles per hour less won’t significantly increase the driving time to Stephenville and it might make 281 a safer highway.

Bob Newby is an educator and Erath County resident. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at newby@lipan.net.