When you drive north to Austin on U.S. 183, you can't avoid Mustang Ridge, unfortunately.
You won't see this town of 861 from the highway, but it boasts four police officers and a police chief. You apparently can afford such a big payroll when your police department writes $2.7 million in traffic tickets and ranks 20th on the list of top Texas speed traps, according to thenewspaper.com.
Mustang Ridge wouldn't matter much to anyone outside of its residents, except its town limits happen to span three miles of U.S. 183. This stretch is a newly paved, four-lane, divided highway that is much nicer and safer than almost all of 183 leading up to it. However, the speed limit drops to 60 mph in this stretch, even though it's 70 most of the way from Victoria. Yes, the limit drops even though the highway in Mustang Ridge is much improved since the adjacent tollway, where the speed limit is 85, opened to take you around Austin.
It could be -- and was -- worse. Immediately after the tollway opened, the Texas Department of Transportation set a temporary speed limit of 55 mph along this highway stretch. After Caldwell County residents complained, TxDOT did a traffic study and raised the limit in March along one stretch of the highway to 60 and on another stretch to 65.
I looked into all of this because -- you guessed it -- I received a speeding ticket recently from a Mustang Ridge officer. I was driving 71 on my way to a board meeting for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
I politely took my lumps and paid my $161 ticket. The money will be worth it if I'm a little safer driver because of the fine.
However, I still agree with the logic TxDOT offers in explaining its traffic studies. Engineers observe the speed most drivers travel on a stretch of highway and figure the limit ought to be set near that. They discard the people who drive recklessly fast or slow and look for how prudent drivers would behave along a given stretch of road.
A TxDOT press person says she'll get back with me with what the agency's traffic engineers have to say about the speed limit in Mustang Ridge. I'll share that response when I get it.
In the meantime, what speed traps have snagged you? Perhaps you've driven through Westlake, No. 1 on the list of Texas speed traps.
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