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Old 2008-03-08
NMA Reporter NMA Reporter is offline
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Exclamation How Should Speed Limits Be Set?

NMA Article: How Should Speed Limits Be Set?

By Bonnie Sesolak, NMA Development Director


speedlimitsign ôRealistic” speed limits should invite public compliance by conforming to the behavior of normal responsible drivers. This results in the safest and most efficient use of streets, roads, and highways.


Traffic engineering research has determined that speed limits should be established according to the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic. This means the limit should be set at a speed that 85 percent of people are driving at or below.


Numerous studies have shown that the 85th percentile is the safest possible speed limit. It recognizes that most drivers voluntarily adjust their speed to the total roadway/roadside environment (width, alignment, surface condition, roadside development, pedestrian activity, weather, light conditions).


It is not appropriate to set a limit below the 85th percentile to accommodate factors that are obvious to road users. Drivers are already taking these factors into account with their existing speed decisions.


Main Factors Used to Set Speed Limits:


Engineering Study

Speed zones are established on the basis of an engineering study. The engineering study includes an analysis of the current speed distribution of free- flowing vehicles.


85th percentile speed

The speed at or below which 85 percent of the sample of free flowing vehicles are traveling. This speed should be determined by conducting a speed survey following the procedure contained in the Manual of Transportation Engineering Studies.


Advisory speed limits

These should be implemented when certain features, such as sharp corners, require a momentary reduction of speed.


Additional Notes:


Each speed zone should be periodically restudied to determine that the established speed limit is appropriate. The suggested maximum interval is five years.


In addition, an engineering study should be conducted whenever there is a change in the roadway that would affect the prevailing speed. Such changes would include elimination of parking, added lanes, signal coordination and changes in roadside development.


According to an Institute of Transportation Engineers Study, those driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are six times as likely to be involved in an accident.


For more information, studies, and articles on speed limits, visit the speed limit section of the NMA’s website.


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  #2 (permalink)   IP: 75.89.13.61
Old 2008-03-09
steagall1000 steagall1000 is offline
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Default In certain areas

NMA Reporter.

You posted:

According to an Institute of Transportation Engineers Study, those driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are six times as likely to be involved in an accident.

My take is No speed limit on 7 lane major interstates. Lets face it the auto baun doesn't have that many wrecks. If your going to set the speed limit than 75-80 mph on interstates would be fine. In residential areas 35-45 should stay. But major interstates need to be raised from 55 to 80. Its not the speed thats killing people its the idiot behind the wheel, not paying attention.



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Old 2008-03-10
FearlessMortal FearlessMortal is offline
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Default Speed Limits

I agree I live in a suburban area of MD just outside of DC so there are a lot of highways and interstates around me. The speed limit on all or most of these "High Speed" roads is a whopping 55mph! There is of course a 65 zone here and there but otherwise your driving at a crawl all or most of the time. If all the speed limits in my area were raised by 15-20 mph it would be a considerable improvement.
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