Authorities: Speed limit change helped reduce crashes on I-20 - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Authorities: Speed limit change helped reduce crashes on I-20

Sgt. Oscar Villarreal overlooks I-20 (Source: KWES). Sgt. Oscar Villarreal overlooks I-20 (Source: KWES).

It has been almost a year since the speed limit was reduced on Interstate 20. Authorities say they have seen a decrease in crashes and fatal wrecks on the the road.

"If you look at the numbers from last year compared to the present year. You can tell the difference that the speed reduction alone played in the number of crashes, especially in the number of injuries and fatalities," said Sgt. Oscar Villarreal with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

From 2015 to 2016, DPS responded to 560 crashes between Moss Rd. and FM 1208 on Interstate 20. Of those, nine were fatal.

"When you have this much traffic, you're going to need to reduce speed a little bit. There is no way traffic can flow safely at a very high speed," said Villarreal.

"You have a mix of traffic that is kind of unique because that's not what they are intended for. They are intended for through traffic and we tend to use them as a local road," said Public Information Officer Gene Powell with TxDOT.

After hearing from the public and conducting an extensive study of the I-20 corridor, TxDOT decided to reduce the speed from 75 to 65 miles per hour in the 40 mile stretch in an effort to help with the amount of crashes.

"We haven't done an in-depth analysis to say absolutely it's helped, but it seems to improved. Part of that may be the lower traffic count, part of that may be just driver behavior is just improving. It's hard to pinpoint one thing without a full blown study," said Powell.

DPS statistics showed from when the new signs were put up on February 1 of 2016 and January of this year, there have only been five fatal crashes.

Authorities say even though the numbers appear to show improvements, many drivers are still speeding and are distracted while driving.

"We'd like that fatality number to be at zero. We have been out here working diligently to make the roads safer. We can only work together with all our fellow Texans and drive properly and safely and hope that we can reduce those numbers," said Villarreal.

State troopers say the main causes for crashes are speeding and distracted driving. There has been a fatal crash every day in Texas since November of 2000.

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