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Hooniverse Asks- Are Your Area’s Speed Limits Too High (yeah, right) or Too Low?

Speed

Have you ever given thought of what goes into municipalities and other government entities setting speed limits? More importantly, have you ever thought that those government bodies didn’t give much thought into setting them? Traffic laws, speed limits included, are part of the social contract by which most of us abide, allowing the relatively smooth operation of our transportation infrastructure.

Some don’t abide, and in fact many of us have, on one or more occasion, most likely exceeded the posted limit on the highway. We of course don’t advocate such actions here – bad Hoon, bad! – and that’s not what we want to discuss today. Instead we want to hear about the posted limits in your town or local highways and byways that seem to have ben set in the time of the horse-drawn carriage and not revisited since.

Here in the States most regions use absolute speed limits, the violation of which provides no defense. Less common is the prima facie  (or presumed) limit, which potentially does offer a defense. Absolute speed limits are set through a calculation of a number of factors – crash risk, enforceability, and acceptability for a majority of road users, i.e. flow of the road. The process for setting limits is costly and time consuming and hence many local governments don’t adjust limits all that often. The question for today then is, does your local area need a speed limit refresh?

Image source: Aphyr

Currently there are "82 comments" on this Article:

  1. muthalovin says:

    I like to think that my elected officials really know what they are doing (yeah, right).

  2. IronBallsMcG says:

    I have one street a couple of blocks from me that's technically a state highway and I almost never reach the speed limit on it. It's one lane each way with parking on both sides and restaurants and bars on one side and a grocery store on the other. Jaywalkers are a constant hazard and at dusk the it points straight into the sunset. It's a 30 MPH zone and I think a case could be made that it's maybe 5 MPH to high.
    On the other hand, every interstate in the area is woefully over restricted. It's bad enough on my side of the river, but a max of 65 in Illinois (along with their CCW laws) is enough to make me avoid Illinois.

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq says:

      Get closer to a city in IL, like an hour away, and it goes to 55. Yet nobody drives so slowly. That and the lack of car pool lanes are two of my pet-peeves here. The tolls used to be as well, but though expensive, you don't have to stop anymore.

      • IronBallsMcG says:

        Crossing the Poplar Street Bridge on I55-I70-I64 from St. Louis the limit is 50 for multiple miles.
        I just got back from riding my bike to and from Rend Lake for a long weekend; 65 is absolutely painful in southern Illinois. Of course the mobile tax collectors were out in force to profit from any indiscretion.

  3. Plecostomus says:

    Most of I-80 is about 15mph slow, at least. if we could have an autobahn anywhere, this'd be a good place to have cars able to move 100+ cos it's so flat.
    Especially thru
    Nebraska and Iowa, on I-80 65 is too damn slow for such straight expanses of nothing.
    Especially since Iowa State Troopers can't wait to give you a ticket for 67mph, and cite for no front plate.

    • chrystlubitshi says:

      Iowa is a b*tch about speeding (limit is 70) on I-80 … Nebraska will gladly write you a ticket, but you have to be going over 75, as that is the limit (traffic moves at 80-90) on I-80 when outside of towns/cities.

      The no front plate thing–they will gladly pull you over and cite you for it, but it gets dismissed if the state the car is registered in doesn't require a front plate (I stopped counting the number of times i've been pulled over while visiting my parents/friends in NE for no front plate)–some officers will even check the state law to see if you are telling the truth and drop the ticket. However, it is a reason for them to pull you over and start looking for things to get you for…..

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

      The limit of 80 MPH on I-10 in west Texas is too low, honestly.

      Though…you don't want tractor trailers, many of which are in questionable condition, going even that fast.

    • JBaustian says:

      Parts of I-80 in western Iowa are in bad shape, so 70-75 mpg is about right. In the eastern 2/3 of the state, 80-85 is more reasonable, with 90 okay for long stretches.

  4. $kaycog says:

    If I'm in a hurry, the speed limits are too low. Otherwise, they are just fine.

  5. SSurfer321 says:

    Rural KY has 4 lane divided highways and all the speed limits are at 55. Drives me nuts as there is rarely any traffic, but always an unmarked police car speed trap.

  6. lilwillie says:

    Speed limits in my community are based on the body count.

    No BS. If we jump in the Delorean and go back in time I can recall when we had a speed limit of 40mph going through town. This is on a State Highway with lots of morning and evening traffic traveling to the people republic of Madison. A young boy was riding his bike around the local gas station on this road. He was told multiple times to not do it. Then one day he shot out into traffic and was killed by a late 80's Monte Carlo. The public demanded something be done and now it is 30mph through this area.

    Just last year another fatality and a change coming. http://www.channel3000.com/news/DOT-has-safety-pl

    There are yellow 45mph signs up now to slow people down. Everyone argues if a yellow sign is a suggested speed or the legal speed. I have no clue. This intersection has been a mess since it was designed and every year someone is in a accident along this stretch of road. So someones death is when something is done.

    A stretch of road near my home went down to 45mph. I'm not sure if it was because of complaints or because the road is so unsafe to travel on they had to lower it so people at 55mph weren't getting into accidents. Potholes, cracks, shifts in the road will rattle the best suspension apart. It is a county road in a area that no one really is worried about so it is a low priority. There is a chance someone along the stretch complained. There is a crazy pedophile (listed sex offender) who has a trailer down the road about a half mile who has a big sign in his yard that states "45mph, this means you people"

    I really want to put a sign in his yard that says "Don' rape little girls, this means you &%$hole."

    Maybe he complained to get it lowered so he can read plates and get a good view of the booster seats in the back.

    • Sjalabais says:

      The "body count"-logic fully applies here, too, and it is no secret at all. The respective agency divides every stretch of road in the whole country into more or less senseful sections, then finds the numbers for accidents and their severity, and then tries to find the perfect speed limit. The trouble with that is: Speed limits will only ever go down.

      To be honest, I have played my part in reducing the speed limit where I live. The actual stretch of road that I enter from my village has a traffic rate of 4-15000 cars a day, depending on which day of the week. The speed limit was 80 kph and we enter that road in a twist, straight on, with very low visibility. So we got that changed to 70 kph with a "danger, crossing"-sign.

  7. Sjalabais says:

    Norway is a funny country in that regard. The main speed limit is 80 kph, and there is hardly any road with a higher limit. Making it Europe's slowest moving nation. If you get a bit away from the capital, the speed limit mostly seems justified. Here in the Western fjords, the new system of regulating every twist and corner is not fully implemented. Driving the actual speed limit will in some roads result in quick fly-offs, death and injury in some steep canyon or deep fjord. So thinking while driving is still allowed.

    <img src="http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no/stream_file.asp?iEntityId=1922&quot; width="600">

    On the main roads, speed limits go just one way: They are being reduced. My road to work was build/upgraded in the 1990s for a speed of 90 kph. Which is fine, considering width, curvature and the whole building magic behind it. But, people being stupid, there have been quite a lot of crashes on difficult conditions in wintertime and in summertime, when scared or just picture-taking European tourists drive 50 kph. So over the course of the last two decades, speed limits have been reduced twice and have now landed at 70 kph. Which is ridiculously low.

    On the other hand, Norway doesn't have any police anymore. And if they show up, they say: "We're overworked", and won't even try to do something about speeding, theft or whatever they find. So traffic still moves at 90 kph (which is except for the tourist season) and there is improved road-condition-awareness in winter.

        • Tanshanomi says:

          Wow, gorgeous. I can't imagine what that's like on a bike. I have a new bucket list item…that might even rank higher than the Stelvio.

          • Rust-MyEnemy says:

            Done Stelvio, but a 75hp Peugeot 306 was the wrong car in hindsight.

            • Sjalabais says:

              Haha, nice. I guess going down works with anything that has brakes though.

              The trouble with twisting roads like that is that the fun is over too soon. But Norway – like the Alps – offers a lot of these roads, so going on a long trip in may or septembre is very rewarding. You might want to avoid the tourist season so the joy of driving is not killed by a white, wheeled box from hell (or from Germany, for that matter).

              <img src="http://static.vg.no/uploaded/image/bilderigg/2010/05/06/1273138164468_517.jpg&quot; width="600">

              • dr zero says:

                When I was living in Norway (Trondheim), I didn't have a car and walked everywhere, and I still learned to despise Germans in campervans.

                • Sjalabais says:

                  It's quite the stereotype, which – unfortunately – is reinforced a zillion times every day. I am German myself, so this comes with authority.

                  • Guest says:

                    Which stereotype? The one about pokey RV drivers or the one about "enthusiasts" who think everyone is in their way?

                    • Sjalabais says:

                      I guess you can think yourself to the answer, can't you?

                      In rural Norway, where the scenic roads are, people are used to drive for themselves. You see another car approaching from behind? Get off the gas, indicate to the right, let them pass. This is how it usually works, just a matter of seconds, really. Continental Europeans are not used to have the road to themselves. They don't consider it strange having a 2 km long line of cars behind them. That's nothing to blame them for. What I may blame some people for, is considering the road their own by driving 20-50% below speed limit and not being concerned about what happens behind them. The typical image I see in the opposite lane is a RV followed by lots of tractor trailers that can't pass the RV and then an endless line of cars. That's not right, enthusiasts or not.

            • Sjalabais says:

              This should be the Peugeot of choice:

              [youtube CoxjdKiH-TY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoxjdKiH-TY youtube]

    • Roberto G. says:

      If there is no poilce, who enforces the speed limits? Speed cameras?

      • Tanshanomi says:

        The innate Scandinavian inclination toward civility.

        • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq says:

          <img src="http://www.clubi.ie/exalted/images/planes/gripen_10.jpg&quot; width="512"> * now with more inclination

          • Sjalabais says:

            Fighter planes? We're not that technologically advanced, but here's a police training video explaining everything:

            [youtube TLEo7H9tqSM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLEo7H9tqSM youtube]

            On a more serious note: "Price list" for minor offenses, divide by 6 for US-$. "Fart" is speed (I am not trolling you), the table shows different speed categories (60 kph and lower, 70 & 80 kph) and the speed in excess of the limit to the left.

            Not stopping when you have to at a crossing is 5200kr, the same is true for driving over a red light. Turning without signals or using fog lights when there is no fog is 2000kr. No belt 2000kr, cell without hands-free 1300kr.

            But it is still true that this is hardly enforced. I have driven 6-70000km since I moved to Norway, and I have passed maybe 5 police controls. That's because I live close to a well-known hot spot. Speed cameras have to be announced beforehand, because that is how people will actually reduce their speed – which is the goal with it, not earning money. Sometimes, the police will have a "cell phone while driving day", catching hundreds of drivers, but just giving them a warning. "Next time you'll pay!", they say, and save themselves all the paperwork.

    • nanoop says:

      The same nation enforces 40kph with speed bumps designed for 30kph.
      Which reminds me that such low speed limits are regularly violated by neighbours, not tourists.

      • Sjalabais says:

        Speed bumps are like a pest, especially in Bergen. When I still had my '71 Volvo 145 I played with them and called them my "turbo boost"-button – refering to K.I.T.T., obviously. Haven't had a car since that would tackle all the jumping quite as well.

        • nanoop says:

          One shouldn't try that with a camper – all the "imported" beer cans would dice around, and that's strictly against the german ordnung!

    • HTWHLS says:

      WTH?? I've heard of "following the terrain" but …damn!

  8. P161911 says:

    Most of the interstates highways or other divided, limited access highways could use a 10mph bump. A few of the other local roads really need to go above a ridiculous 35mph, when EVERYBODY, even the school buses drive 55mph.

    The problem is that the speed limit has to be designed for the 1965 pickup truck driving on 4 drum brakes with a full load, not a 2013 sports car.

    • Tanshanomi says:

      But nobody in a 1965 pickup truck driving on 4 drum brakes was texting or tweeting.

      • nanoop says:

        That's probably a bigger part of the problem: speed limits aren't intended to limit the able ones but to help the most vulnerable ones to survice. Once again, it's about popular mobility, not fun.

  9. Tanshanomi says:

    There are some US Highways (not even Interstates) just outside of KC on the Kansas side that have 75 MPH speed limits, which means that everybody is doing 80-85. I have to say, that seems a tiny bit excessive to me. Not for me, of course, because I am a very responsible and skilled driver — but all those other yahoos shouldn't be allowed to go that fast.

  10. OA5599 says:

    There is a 4-lane divided road that runs adjacent to my neighborhood, with good sidewalks on each side. Along the one mile of it nearest my house, there are two early childhood schools, an elementary school, a K-8, a K-12(?), and a 6-12. A little farther up the road is a middle school and another elementary.

    The K-8 draws from outside of the neighborhood, so everyone arrives by car and should not need to cross the 4-lane, but there are two crosswalks anyway. The 6-12 is a private school and they hire an off-duty cop to stop traffic for students entering and leaving. The elementary school has a crossing guard, and the others are clustered near a traffic signal.

    The schools have varying hours and schedules. There are two separate school zones in the one-mile stretch, plus another near the other schools. They do not have posted hours, and are the "when flashing" type. The school zone speeds are 20 mph.

    Traffic cops stay very busy.

  11. Maymar says:

    Within Toronto, there's the odd road that's got a suitable speed limit – any residential road with a 40km/h limit makes sense, and some of our major roads in the proper city, once you factor in the streetcar tracks, the pedestrians, the traffic parked on the curb, the cars making left turns, and every other little factor, 50km/h isn't so bad. Other than that, everything is generally too low. About 10-20km/h too low, which is where the police start issuing tickets. That's not so terrible, except your penalty isn't set on how much you exceed the unofficial speed limit, it's how much you're over the actual limit. So, let's say I'm doing 130 on the highway, just a little bit faster than the 120 everyone else is doing. Fine, not exceptionally dangerous, but I'd get penalized for doing 30 over.

    This would be less of a problem if, as I've frequently complained, police routinely targeted bad drivers, as opposed to quick drivers.

  12. Devin says:

    Mostly fine except for two spots:

    1 – A stretch of highway with nothing on it, except for a couple stoplights and some exits. This used to be 70 km/h, which was fine. Then it was dropped to 50km/h. But nobody was actually told it was dropped to 50, there were no signs inside city limits indicating the change, especially not on the road I used to access this stretch of highway – and I frequently used it to get to stores. So good thing a friend of mine got a ticket before I did! The logic behind the change was that increased commercial development would mean more traffic, which might have been a reason if it wasn't implemented a full year before the commercial development actually happened. The speed was eventually put up to 60km/h. It should be at 70.

    2 – Not a speed limit, but a stop sign, but I was there when it was introduced so I know how these things happen. City planners did a traffic flow study on a street in town, mostly used by people in the southern part of the city to get to shops. While residents were concerned about speed, they found that the majority of traffic, outside of some truly impressive outliers – one guy was clearly trying to set a land speed record – the majority of residents were going the speed limit. Thus, the planners recommended no change be made. However, a couple councilors, influenced by some paranoid old ladies and "think of the children!" logic – there are no schools on this street, by the way, or playgrounds, or really many children going from my frequent trips down it – demanded stop signs be put on it anyway. The planners said this would constrain traffic flow, and would be a bad idea. The councilors were indifferent, and demanded stop signs loudly, eventually convincing the majority of council to go with them. So now there are two unnecessary four way stops, making it really annoying for the suckers who still live in that part of the city, all because some city councilors didn't listen to the people who knew what they were talking about.

    Due to work I actually know a lot of the people on city council pretty well, they still make really terrible decisions sometimes.

  13. Rust-MyEnemy says:

    There are moves afoot to raise our national speed limit from 70 to 80, which seems perfectly sensible.

    However, I'm now trying to teach myself to drive more slowly to save on my disgusting weekly fuel bill, and only just managing with the speed limit as it is. With an increase to 80 it's a fair bet that that figure will represent a new minimum speed for those fleet drivers who have their fuel paid for by the company.

    I can envisage a two-tier traffic situation arising where those of us driving slowly to save money will be 20 to 30mph adrift, and therefore dangerously in the way of, those who can afford to burn fuel.

    • Hopman says:

      There is an easy solution: Just move out the way for truck drivers. We have deadliunes to meet and that load we're hauling could be the one you need to have ON TIME, WITHOUT FAIL!

    • Sjalabais says:

      What are you driving again? With our new '02 Camry, breaking the speed limit just a wee bit (hope I'm not offending anyone) will save 3 l/100km just there and then because it gets to shift into a more efficient gear. Yes, we have an automatic transmission Camry, lets not talk about that again.

      • Rust-MyEnemy says:

        '98 A4 1.8t. A constant 70 and 3000rpm is good for about 35mpg, a constant 80, why which time the turbo is spinning properly,about 33mpg. However, much fluctuation between those speeds can bring me below 30. Doing 80 I find myself having to brake and then re-accelerate all the time as slower stuff pulls out in front of me or people come up behind at 90 and I'm forced to pull in.

        It's probably easier to maintain a constant 90….

        • Sjalabais says:

          90 seems like a no brainer. :)

          An Audi with a tiny engine doesn't strike me as a gas guzzler either – have a look at this comparison of 154 similar cars' consumption: Spritmonitor. The average consumption of these mostly German drivers is roughly 26 mpg, so you're doing good.

  14. Alff says:

    I've twice lived in townships where the speed limits are low and aggressively enforced to generate revenue. In both cases, about half of the city's operating budgets came from traffic citations, keeping property taxes low. So, I would say the speed limits are just right.

  15. pj134 says:

    While most of the speed limits around me are mostly reasonable, the fact that they have been removing every passing zone whenever they repave a road is really bugging me. I love it when the somewhat frequent semi decide to hop on the two lane roads I drive and go 25 because their GPS told them they can get to I95 this way. Just because the road has a number doesn't mean a tractor trailer should be on it, especially because its a wealthier area and eminent domain doesn't really apply when the owners have money/are in a "historical" building. The quarry trucks are in full force around this area too, but at least they normally try to go the speed limit.

  16. frankthecat says:

    The actual village I live in has a lot of roads with unmarked speed limits, aka they're the state speed limit of 55mph. Like my road, in particular.

  17. Alcology says:

    I live in MA, in boston. Speed limits are largely ignored. You either drive slower than posted because there are cars on the road or just do what you feel. If you go more than 10 over you risk a ticket. My car whines too much over 70. So on highways I drive about 65 since I get the best mileage around there. Anywhere else I drive as posted. On highways I prefer to find a driving buddy. It's always nice when a couple a of cars are looking out for each other.

    Unrelated to speed limits, I once ran scout for a tractor trailer going south on 95 from maine. I forget where he was from, but it looked like he had a long way to go. There was a lot of traffic and it was mostly moving. I would find the fastest path, then open up a space behind me for him and he would move in. We did this for 2-3 hours until the tolls and I waved gooodbye and he sent me on his way with a blast of his horn. Special moments.

  18. roryfarrell says:

    I am currently in southwest florida at the moment and I have to say , the speedlimits here are painfully low. My average speed so far , commuting .. is 45mph. Back home in Ireland I average 90. Now admittedly , in rural sections of Ireland, posted speedlimits can be a bit ridiculous. There is a section near me which is a thin two lane winding country road , with a 100 kmh speedlimit.
    One thing I have noticed is , more people here in Florida break the speed limit then at home.

  19. marmer01 says:

    It's mostly OK where I live, with a few exceptions. In my opinion, no public road should be below 30 mph except in a school zone during school hours. There are a handful of residential subdivisions that aggressively enforce 20 or 25, and that's crazy slow, especially compared to the more usual 30 in the subdivision next door. For some reason about five years ago, Texas allowed the speed limit on rural roads to rise to 75 mph. There's a lot of not-all-that-well maintained two lane blacktop out in Central and West Texas which is kinda scary at those speeds, and to make it worse, most towns immediately drop it to 55 at the city limit, which requires pretty hard braking. Some towns are pretty aggressive about the enforcement at the city limits too, picking off the highway travelers who don't slow down quickly enough. Happened to me last time I was out that way although I just got a warning.

  20. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

    The speed limit on unposted residential streets in Texas is 30 MPH.

    On my residential street, which is _maybe_ 750 feet long, I routinely hear cars shifting from 2nd to 3rd, which is excessive(-ly stupid) and uncalled for.

    Unfortunately, as I live there, and actually own the house, i.e. not a renter, I can't paintball the losers without retribution, or I would…gladly.

    • marmer01 says:

      Correct. State limit, unposted, is 30 mph. I actually knew that, believe it or not. It's the subdivisions who think they are special enough to require 20 or 25 that chap me. There's also a divided four-lane with good sidewalks away from the curb and no driveways that plummets from 40 to 30 where it goes from city limits (40) to county (30.) No significant difference except the county uses it to make money and (I suspect) the nearby residents want it slow. It is full of those flashing speed limit signs.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

        Yeah, as did I…did/do you drive for a living? That's likely why I remember.

        Agreed on the seemingly random changes in speed limit which has the sole goal of revenue generation.

        I hate those damned flashing speed limit signs. I know my speedo/odo is within 1% of GPS, and yeah, I'm going 47 in a 40, too bad.

        • marmer01 says:

          Drive for a living? Nope, unless you count commuting, which I guess makes a kind of sense. For some reason I've always known about the 30 mph limit. Probably something that Texas drivers' ed got right in the '70s.

    • ptschett says:

      I once got out of a ticket on a residential street for knowing the state law for a default speed limit. My hometown (Huron, SD) posts residential streets at 20, though state law at the time was 25 MPH default for city streets & 55 MPH default for rural roads unless otherwise posted. I was stopped for 30 in an alleged-20 and argued with the policeman that it couldn't be any worse than a 30 in a 25 since there was no sign. He let me go.

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

        Sounds like the illegal lane change ticket I received in Coppell, TX.

        Changed lanes within 200 feet of an intersection is what I was written up for, however, that's on undivided two-lane roads, and it's passing, not lane changing. Though, if you're passing on a two lane road, then yeah, changing lanes is involved.

        This was a six lane divided boulevard.

        The judge was downright apologetic, and she stared a hole into the cop after I recited the law.

        Must hurt to be served by a 19 year old.

  21. BAMacPherson says:

    Earlier this summer I drove from Nova Scotia to Michigan through the northern states, and then back to NS through Canada. I have to say, Americans know how to build a flippin' highway. Driving through Connecticut and Pennsylvania was a real treat. Beautiful scenery, the perfect little towns. We we in a hurry but we couldn't help but take detours to see more of the country. We just tried to make up the time difference back on the open road. (Tangent: Another car in our convoy got pulled over doing way over the speed limit. The officer claimed that if the driver were American he'd have taken him straight to the courthouse. But being Canadians, he didn't want to deal with the hassle.)

    But my lord did we pay for it on the Ohio Turnpike. I haven't been on that many highways, but the Ohio Turnpike is far and away the most boring drive I have ever been a part of. There is absolutely nothing to look at, the highways are 6-lanes wide, the entire landscape is flat, the surface as smooth as glass…. I can barely understand just how people weren't falling asleep every few kilometers. It is, however, a great place to seek out the Vmax of a rented Chrysler. Which is pretty much the only way you can keep yourself awake out there. There seemed to be very few people speeding as well by the number of people we overtook.

    • bhtooefr says:

      They weren't speeding because they didn't feel lucky.

      (Let's just say that Ohio is rather anal about speed limits.)

  22. bhtooefr says:

    The surface streets in my area (except in residential areas or the core of the "city") are typically 35 mph, which is a good speed – some of them could actually be 25 or 30 due to poor road condition or narrowness, though.

    There's really only one speed limit that I don't like, and I understand the reasoning for it (an intersection at the bottom of the hill) – on my commute, there's a steep hill in a 35 zone, at the end of the hill the speed limit changes to 45. Going the other way, I have to slow down before the hill.

    What I usually end up doing on the way to work, I give the car just enough fuel to hit 15-20 mph across the intersection before the hill, then coast in neutral down. I hit 40ish mph by the end of the hill, and then (if traffic behind isn't too impatient) I coast all the way to some railroad tracks, by which point I'm going 25-30 mph. Put it in second, accelerate away.

    The divided highways in this area are 55 MPH, they could use a 60 MPH limit, but the layout is such that 65 is pushing it a bit too much.

    And finally, the bicycle trails in my area have a 15 mph recommendation (not posted). I exceed that every day I cycle commute (although there's a twisty section that I need to do at 12-13 on my recumbent trike to have some margin of safety).

    • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

      If you leave the vehicle in gear, and it's fuel-injected…and less than 30 years old…it's quite likely the injectors will shut off completely, resulting in zero fuel consumption as long as it's above about 1,300 and 1,500 RPM.

      At idle, in neutral, you'll still use about 0.35/gph.

      • bhtooefr says:

        Well, less fuel consumption at idle on a diesel.

        And, overrun cutoff is great, but you're still engine braking.

        Even on a gasser, typically, coasting at idle is more efficient than engine braking, because you have to apply more throttle to make up for the engine braking.

        Then, there's always what some hypermilers do, but that gets dangerous – engine-off coasting.

        • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

          Wait. Is your vehicle a diesel? If so, then you know you have no engine compression braking, unless you have a Jake brake of some sort.

          Of course, engine-overrun fuel cutoff works only with a decently steep hill, but I thought this was intimated.

          Engine-off coasting is stupid, period.

          Hell, on my commute, I know I can coast up certain grades because there is a traffic light or stop sign at the 'summit'*.

          *Fort Worth isn't known for its mountainous terrain.

          • bhtooefr says:

            There's always going to be some losses, both frictional from the pistons rubbing against the walls of the cylinder, and pumping losses from compression, even if there's no pumping losses from a throttle plate.

            A diesel's higher compression means that, even when you're not using a jake brake or anything of the sort, it's gonna slow down. With a modern direct injected diesel, not quite as well as something with a throttle plate, but it's definitely there. (Old indirect injection diesels… let's just say that I could easily lock up a front wheel under engine braking on my 1.6 indirect injection diesels with 23:1 compression.)

            • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat says:

              The engine's friction losses are so minimal, they aren't really valid when looking at engine braking.

              I have a pseudo Jake-brake on our ISB-equipped motorcoach, and unless it's engaged, there is effectively no decelleration due to anything other than wind & rolling resistance, of which there is plenty.

              Granted, 25K+ lbs and 8.5' x 11' frontal area tend to offset each other, but it's not the only diesel I've driven quite a bit.

              I still contend, if you stay in top gear and coast, in gear, you'll have an increase in MPG, though if there is only one short section of roan on which you can do this, i.e. notA driving in from Evergreen, CO, to Denver on I-70, daily, then it likely isn't noticeable.

              (Old indirect injection diesels… let's just say that I could easily lock up a front wheel under engine braking on my 1.6 indirect injection diesels with 23:1 compression.)

              I don't believe this for one second.

        • MVEilenstein says:

          I'm no hypermiler by any stretch of the imagination, but I drive the same roads enough to know the light cycles and whether the traffic will be moving by the time I get to the intersection. I drive at or below the limit most of the time, and leave plenty of room for coasting. If I can get to work without having to fully stop, I can save gas and make the foot-to-the-floor-between-lights drivers look like rubes. Win/win.

  23. zsvdkhnorc says:

    New Jersey bases the speed limits on how the area is zoned. Residential? 25 MPH. Commercial? 35 MPH. Highways range from 35 to 55 MPH, with a handful of specially designated 65 MPH zones with doubled traffic fines. Needless to say, this doesn't work well in several situations.

    There's a 35 MPH stretch of US-1/9 not far from where I live. People coming in from Staten Island by way of the Goethels Bridge proceed down a stretch of 55 MPH interstate and then are dumped unceremoniously through a left-lane entrance ramp onto 35 MPH highway, with only a single 35 MPH sign level with the entrance ramp at the far right. Nobody ever sees it because they're focused on the merge, and local traffic tends to run around 50 MPH. A perfect speed trap for out-of-staters. My own father never saw it until I pointed it out to him.

    Also, NJ has a lot of populated area between highways. That means navigating a bunch of two-lane 'arterials' that often have houses on them, pushing the speed limit down to 25 MPH, regardless of whether the traffic naturally moves at 35 or even 45. Heaven help you if there's no traffic, and you're moving along a long, straight, wide, and empty road at a good clip. I've got several roads around here where I've caught myself going to fast, and I just put on the cruise control at 34 to keep me from getting a ticket.

    As for speed limits too high, I used to commute out to Long Island (pronounced Lon Gisland) for college. I'm used to seeing those exit ramp speed limit signs and thinking, that's for a vehicle with a high center of balance in worst case scenario. I'm usually right, too. Northern State Parkway, I went to take an exit that said 15 MPH at 20 MPH with the road still slightly wet from an earlier rain, and emerged onto the local road sideways.

  24. wisc47 says:

    Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that where I live, people don't know how to take a corner. I've had enough of signs telling me to slow down from 55 to 25 to take one corner, when I'm perfectly capable of taking it at 40. This isn't even a case of needing to hit the apex, either; I can stay completely in my lane, no problem.

  25. Van_Sarockin says:

    Roads are (or should be) designed to be driven at specific speeds. This is called the road's design speed. Speed limits are set at the point where ninety percent of traffic will drive at, or below the posted speed. If conditions lead to a change in roadway characteristics, then you post signs indicating a reduction or increase in permitted speed. This can work very well.

    The first problem is that these guidelines were established a long time ago, and cars and trucks are much better now. In the sixties, new Interstates were commonly posted at 75 mph. Think about the cars and trucks the roads were designed for, their brakes and suspensions. Cars are much better now, but the fundamental calculations are still in effect. That's helpful for both of you that still commute in a '55 pickup with sticky wheel cylinders, but a new Hyundai is not posed with much of any challenge.

    When roads are properly designed and posted, people will naturally gravitate to the design speed, because all of the visual cues and driving dynamics will tend to reinforce the speed limit. It will feel better to drive at the proper, posted speed. Sometimes people have speed limits lowered, because of accidents, injuries, or feelings of their own importance. That's fine, but unless the physical characteristics of the road are also changed, changing the speed limit will not greatly affect the actual speeds on the road. It will make it even easier to hand out speeding tickets like sticks of gum.

    Lower speeds are appropriate, where there is danger of collisions and injury. Pedestrians can generally survive collisions of up to 20-25 mph, but have remarkably higher fatalities at 30 mph and higher. But the best way to get cars to slow, is to do things like narrow the road, add curves and jogs,, paint tighter stripes, install street trees and sidewalks, allow curbside parking, etc. Those dimensional changes, and perceptual changes will serve to implicitly enforce lower speed limits. The changes can also make roads more interesting and pleasant, regardless of the speed posted or travelled.

  26. buzzboy7 says:

    In the center of town is a reasonable 25 mph limit. Less populated areas are 45. The problem is that between Memorial Day and Labor Day the speedlimit drops from 45 to 35. It's terrible.

  27. MVEilenstein says:

    Most of the roads in my area are 35 or 40, depending on how many people live near the road. There is a road I frequent that is 40mph, but begins as a 2-lane road with narrow shoulders, and later widens to five lanes with sidewalks and bike lanes. It's very tempting for 40 to become 45 or 50.

    In the neighborhood where we live, I actually think 25 is too fast; 15 would be more reasonable, given how many people walk and bike in the evening, and how quiet the neighborhood is most of the time (large, wooded lots in a well-developed old neighborhood). In fact, doing 25 early in the morning can be a little dangerous, as there are lots of rabbits, deer, and the occasional lynx near the road.

  28. dr zero says:

    In Sydney, most residential streets are 50 kph (down from 60 when I was growing up), while freeways can be anything from 80-110 kph. There is a residential road near my place, which is quite narrow, has cars parked on both sides and on a bus route, which until a month ago was a 60 kph zone. It's now dropped down to 50 kph, which feels a lot more comfortable. Anyway, at 50 kph I can put it in fourth and pretty much coast, so I don't really mind.

  29. Kiran says:

    In India the speed limit of 80 kph on highways aren't enforced. No speed cam. Here German saloons travel around 180 – 200 kph on good roads in south India.

    • Sjalabais says:

      So I guess it is not a safe place to be for the CNG Hindustan Ambassador? :o

      • Kiran says:

        Here you have to be attentive while driving. Indian highways are literally like democracy where two stroke engined three wheelers travel at 30 kph in the fastest . Hence everyone overtakes from the right, centre and left lane. BTW Ambassadors have strong body shell

        • Kiran says:

          *fastest lane

        • Sjalabais says:

          Do you think Ambassadors are about to disappear from the Indian market? I still think it is amazing that you can buy a car with so old roots new and fresh, even with a CNG engine. It might be impossible to import one of those to Norway, but I have a certain interest in trying once my moneytree gets bigger… =8^)

  30. HTWHLS says:

    Here in the metro ATL, they seem to be suggestions anyway. I would say most of the roads, the limit is just fine. There are a few two-lane, billiard-table-flat, see down the road for miles with limited access that could be increased from 45 to 55….until you see all the planned construction (drive way cuts, future intersections) so I guess they set the limit to what the roads will be in 4-5 years, rather than lowering them when all the "sprawl" is in place.

  31. joshwebster84 says:

    We have a new highway in Texas coming out of Austin with an 85mph limit, and it's pretty scary to drive on it. Traffic runs at 95, which means I'm driving next to some idiot in a Tahoe with bald tires going almost 100mph, while getting total shit MPGs. And forget cruise control, it's the goddamned Indy 500. High speed limits sound great till you think who you are sharing the road with. I don't want to die because some hippy college kid in his PT Cruiser is trying to find the right Phish song on his iPhone whilst traveling triple digits in 100 degree heat when his Wal Mart tires burst.

    • Vairship says:

      High speed limits are fine IF driver education/tests are tough (i.e. Germany, not the US).
      As far as tires bursting, I always laugh when I'm overtaken by a lifted vehicle on giant tires. They never check the speed rating on those mudders, and if a tire were to blow, that corner of the truck would suddenly drop a foot…

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