Drivers are permitted to travel at speeds of up to 75 mph on urban interstates and frequently even faster on rural ones in the following six states: Idaho, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Since 1995, when the federal government abolished the 55-mph national maximum speed limit, states have been free to set their own speed limits. Recently, 35 states have since increased their speed limits to 70 mph or higher in at least some places.
There is no assurance that enforcing speed limits will change drivers’ actions because most people will ultimately drive as fast as they feel comfortable doing so. Law enforcement does, however, keep an eye on motorist speed, and disobeying the posted speed limit can lead to fines and, depending on how fast the driver is going, even arrest.
Roads can be divided into three main categories: arterial, collector, and local. On- and off-ramps are less common on arterial roads, which are also faster. Collector roads are balanced to have more access points while moving quickly. Local roads travel at slower speeds and have more intersections and cross streets for access. These three types of streets are distinct from one another, which is why they have various speed limits. Roads with fewer vehicles trying to cross each other and fewer cyclists or pedestrians need to move at a slower speed. Conversely, roads with more traffic and more cyclists or pedestrians need to move at a slower speed.
Why do the maximum speed limits in the USA vary by state?
In the USA, state-set speed limits, which are posted in miles per hour (mph) and typically use increments of 5mph, are set rather than federally mandated. In some states, trucks and nighttime driving are subject to slower speed limits. According to the general rule of thumb, larger states with more open freeways will typically have higher speed limits, while smaller states with denser populations and busier freeways will probably have lower maximum speed limits.
Unsurprisingly, Washington, D.C., has the lowest speed limit in the country—55 mph—even though it doesn’t technically have any rural freeways; instead, its fastest roads are urban freeways. The USA’s highest posted speed limit is 85 mph in Texas. The median speed limit in the United States is 70 mph, and the average maximum speed limit across all states is 69.8 mph.
Are there Minimum Speed Limits in the USA
To ensure that traffic using freeways (motorways) maintains a safe speed and flow of traffic, some states impose a minimum speed limit of 40 mph on them.
Are there Speed Limits at Night in the USA
Some states have reduced speed limits for nighttime driving. Where these are in effect, any speed limit sign will display the posted speed limit in the daytime (white sign, black text), followed by the posted speed limit for the evening (black sign, white text).
While uncommon, the following places are likely to have nighttime speed limits:
- Arizona, where there are no streetlights
- Panther Zones, also known as Panther X-ing, are in Florida.
- Highway 13 in Colorado slows down from 65 mph to 55 mph at night.
- Due to the large number of deer on the road at night, Washington’s Highway 20 slows to 45 mph.
History of speed limits in the US
In Connecticut, the first speed limit was formally established in 1901, limiting motor vehicles to 12 mph in towns and cities and 15 mph on rural roads. There are rumors that speed limits were established for non-motorized vehicles as early as 1652, when the colony of New Amsterdam (now New York) passed a law prohibiting the use of horses to pull wagons, carts, and sleighs at a gallop. Penalties began at 2 Flemish pounds, or $150 in today’s currency.
US National 55 mph Speed Limit – National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL)
Speed limits varied from state to state as traffic laws and regulations were introduced across the USA (New York City issued the first official traffic code in 1901), but President Nixon established a 55 mph national limit in 1974. Its goal was to decrease fuel consumption and lower the cost of motoring, which was motivated by rising fuel prices and a weak economy. In 1987 and 1988, the NMSL was changed to permit speeds of up to 65 mph on specific rural roads as concerns about fuel prices and vehicle safety diminished. Speed limit authority was returned to individual states by the US Congress in 1995, allowing elected state representatives to set and enforce speed limits.
What is the Fastest Speed Limit in the US?
Texas has the US’s fastest posted speed limit at 85 mph. State Highway 130 (SH 130) in Texas is also known as Pickle Parkway. The fastest designated speed limit in the US is 85 mph on the 41-mile (66-kilometer) stretch between SH 45 and I-10; traveling at this rate would take just under 29 minutes.
The speed limit on all interstates, rural and urban, is 80 mph, while the limit on other roads is 70 mph. Hawaii has the nation’s slowest average speed limits. Hawaii’s rural and urban interstates have speed limits as low as 35 mph. Please be aware that the speed limits in Hawaii differ between islands. To prevent speeding, it’s important to read all of the road signs.
Does the US have kph (km/h) speed limit signs?
Following changes made to the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, metric speed limits were eliminated in the USA in 2009. The 2003 revision allowed for the application of speed limits in increments of 10 kph or 5 mph. When speed limits in kilometres per hour (kph) were posted, the value was circumscribed, and km/h was indicated as the allowed speed. Since 1995, when federal funding for metric speed limit signs was no longer available, speed limits have not been posted in kilometers per hour (km/h). In the United States, metric speed limit signs are uncommon and gradually being phased out to prevent confusion.