Triple-digit speeds on Central raise concerns about expressway turned speedway

A Dallas City Councilman wants to ask the state to reconsider the speed limit on Central Expressway and use state troopers to help enforce it

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After NBC 5 Investigates recorded drivers regularly topping 100 mph on Central Expressway, a Dallas City Councilmember wants to ask the state to lower the speed limit and to provide state troopers to help enforce it.

A look at drivers on Central Expressway in Dallas shows the 119 mph allegedly driven by an NFL player in the moments before a stunning high-profile crash last March, may not be that uncommon.

For several months NBC 5 Investigates has reported on the number of high-speed crashes along U.S. 75. This major thoroughfare runs north out of downtown Dallas where the Texas Department of Transportation raised the speed limit to 70 mph and where the number of tickets written by the Dallas Police Department dropped sharply in some recent years.

NBC 5 Investigates returned to Central Expressway with our colleague Don Peritz, a retired traffic commander with the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

NBC 5 Investigates' Don Peritz, a retired traffic commander with the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, uses a lidar gun to clock the speed of drivers on Dallas' Central Expressway.

Peritz used lidar to clock drivers at three locations along Central Expressway between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a recent Monday night. At least a dozen times drivers topped 100 mph, some hitting speeds of 115 mph or more. Another driver was clocked at a shocking 133 mph, 63 mph over the legal speed limit.

We showed our video to Dallas City Councilmember Paul Ridley who represents neighborhoods that run adjacent to the expressway.

"I'm very concerned. And this is the first time that I've seen empirical evidence of people speeding that fast on Central Expressway," Ridley said.

The city councilman said his concerns were magnified by the recent crash involving Kansas City Chiefs player Rashee Rice, who police said was driving 119 mph before a chain-reaction crash that injured several people in March.

Rice's alleged speed made national headlines, but it was still almost 15 mph slower than the highest speed recorded by NBC 5 Investigates.

In a conversation with NBC 5 Investigates, Ridley said he was shocked to see speeds that high at any time of day and that he was unsure how a Dallas police officer would even be able to catch up to a driver who was going that fast.

Speaking to fellow councilmembers recently, Ridley questioned city-wide enforcement of speed limits.

"I think there is a widespread perception that there is no traffic enforcement anymore and people are getting away with it," Ridley told the City Council in April.

Dallas City Councilman Paul Ridley speaks during a City Council meeting.

Ridley's comments prompted a response from Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, who said his department has only 29 traffic officers to cover the entire city.

"I can tell you that we are not going to be in a position anytime soon to be able to staff every intersection in the city with regards to enforcement," Garcia said in that April meeting. "Our traffic unit does the best they can, utilizing data."

Last fall, NBC 5 Investigates reported Dallas police records showed between 2019 and 2021 the number of speeding tickets written on Central Expressway dropped almost 70%. That number increased in 2022 but was still down about 30% compared to three years earlier.

NBC 5 Investigates requested but has not yet received more updated data from the police department’s records division.

Last fall Garcia told NBC 5 he was surprised when he arrived in Dallas to find the city police were responsible for speed enforcement on major state and interstate highways.

"Was shocked to be - very surprised - because, yes, in California, the California Highway Patrol pretty much does enforcement on all the freeways in the state," said Garcia, who came to Dallas after leading the San Jose Police Department.

NBC 5 Investigates Senior Reporter Scott Friedman, left, talks with Dallas Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, right, in 2023.

Ridley, meanwhile, believes the city of Dallas should ask for help from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"We should call upon the state to do more traffic enforcement on highways that are owned by the state, such as Central Expressway and the Interstate highways," Ridley said.

Ridley also suggested the state should re-evaluate the speed limit on Central Expressway. TxDOT raised the speed limit eight years ago from 65 mph to 70 mph, saying it would help alleviate congestion. NBC 5 Investigates has reported some road safety experts said it's rare to find a speed limit that high on a freeway running into a major U.S. city.

NBC 5 Investigates Senior Reporter Scott Friedman, right, talks with Dallas City Councilman Paul Ridley, left.

An attorney representing a driver injured in the Rashee Rice crash recently told us he believes the higher speed limit on Central Expressway has encouraged speeding.

"I'm alarmed, actually, at the speeds that cars are traveling. First of all, the speed limit there is already 70 mph, which is questionable from a safety aspect given that it is a heavily commuted throughway. And in the middle of our city," said attorney Sanjay Mathur.

Attorney Sanjay Mathur represents a driver who was hit by another driver on Central Expressway in March 2024.

NBC 5 Investigates reached out to the Texas Transportation Commission, which sets speed limits, and asked if the speed limit on U.S. 75 should be reconsidered in light of drivers traveling more than 100 mph.

The commissioners referred us to a TxDOT spokesperson who said, "There is no way to address the recklessness and total disregard for human life when someone chooses to drive over 100 mph."

The spokesperson added, "TxDOT has not received a formal request to lower the existing speed limit on U.S. 75."

Ridley said TxDOT shouldn't have to wait for the city to ask them to address a dangerous condition, and said he now wants the city to ask TxDOT to re-examine the speed limit and ask the state to help the city enforce it.

TxDOT crash records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates showed 3,072 speed-related crashes on Central Expressway killed 15 people and injured 73 in just a little more than five years.

We've contacted Garcia again for his thoughts on the speeds we recently recorded. The department replied with a statement that read in part, “In 2022, the Highway Enforcement Squad was created to curtail speeding on area highways including 75/Central Expwy..." The statement went on to say, "We prioritize enforcement in those areas that have the potential to reduce crashes and save lives."

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