As a driver have you ever been confused about what a speed limit you are supposed to be going in a certain area? Sometimes, drivers will miss signs, continue driving at one rate of speed when the speed limit has actually reduced.
Speed limits are set based on the type of road, how much traffic drives it, and the risk associated with driving in the area. States set the speed limits which is why on one highway you can drive 75 and another only 60mph.
Aside from the obvious safety-related issues, there are a variety of reasons to have speed limits. Read on to learn about some of the reasons to have designated speed limit zones.
1. School Zones
There are many areas across the country that recognized reduced speed limits when students might be going or coming from school. While an area might have a normal speed limit of 34 to 45, a driver might see a sign telling them the speed is reduced during times when kids are present.
Typically, the speed is reduced to between 15 and 25mph in the morning and afternoon when there would be kids moving or crossing streets. Slowing drivers down hopefully helps protect kids needing to cross local streets.
2. Construction Zones
As drivers, you’ve all been caught in the dreaded construction zone. Maybe even where traffic backs up for miles and you’re crawling along wondering if you’ll ever get out of it. Some states even refer to it as a season, orange barrel season they call it.
Yet, construction zones keep roads and bridges operationally safe. So, drivers need to slow down in those zones to help keep workers safe too.
Construction zones will have drivers slow down not only so workers are safe but also because of conditions. Maybe the road is rougher or the lanes narrow making it unsafe to drive at the normal speed.
3. Potential Danger Ahead
Often speed limits signs will warn drivers they need to slow down when there are potential dangers ahead.
These dangers could include:
- Steep incline
- Sharp curves
- Falling rock
- Road narrows
If drivers have been driving a higher speed but then need to slow down for safety because of road conditions they will usually see repeated warning signs that the speed limit is about to change because of conditions up ahead.
4. Warn Drivers About Speed
Speed limits change from area to area or as you go from a higher speed zone to one where the limits are smaller. Often as a driver, you will see signs warning you to slow down as the speed limit is changing.
Sometimes if a municipality is struggling with drivers coming into a slower zone without slowing down they place radar speed signs to warn drivers their speed is high for the actual limit.
Another way the radar speed signs are used is in construction zones to warn drivers they are going too fast with the construction happening around them.
5. Heavy Traffic
In areas where there is expected to be heavy traffic, the speed limit may be different than a driver might expect. They might be driving on a highway where speeds are higher and come to a regularly more congested area. This is a place where the speed limit might be reduced to manage the heavier volumes of traffic.
A city or town may have a road that would under more ordinary circumstances have a speed limit of 55-65mph, yet because of regular high traffic reduces the speed limits to between 35-45mph.
Now most drivers don’t live in an area where they will see a sign to adjust their speed because of animals but they do exist. For example, if you live in a rural area where animals are moved from pasture to pasture across a road, you might see a sign asking for a reduction in speed or be prepared to stop sign.
In other areas, you might see a sign to reduce speeds because deer often cross at a certain spot and if drivers were going too fast, they wouldn’t be able to stop if the deer sprinted out in front of them.
7. Children With Disabilities
If you live in a neighborhood with a deaf or blind child or sometimes even a severely autistic child, there might be signs to slow down or reduce speed. Because they are children and have disabilities, drivers would be asked to go slower in case they inadvertently went out into the street.
8. Crossing Area
Drivers might be asked to slow down in areas where there are crossings. This could include a bike crossing from one path to another.
If a community has walking paths that cross a road, drivers would see signs to slow down to watch for potential crossings.
In this situation, the speed limit might not change but instead would warn drivers to be prepared to slow down or stop in the event someone is crossing the road.
9. Special Event
If a town is hosting a special event like fireworks, a parade, festival or art fair, they may close roads. There may be an increase in foot traffic. They might even have rerouted traffic around the traffic or event.
This would be another example of when drivers might be asked to change their speed for the conditions. While it might not be a permanent reduction in speed, during the event they would be asked to drive more slowly because of the conditions.
Understanding the Reasons for Speed Limits
Speed limits are intended to keep drivers safe based on the conditions of the road and area. Aware drivers should always be prepared to reduce their speed as needed based on conditions. There are often times when speed limits change based on factors like animals, children, or construction.
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