Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

Is it time for Florida to raise speed limits?

Ever wonder how the State of Florida determines the speed limits for our roads? Should the maximum speed limits for some of Florida's roads be increased or reduced?

What are the current speed limits in Florida?

Speed limits are the fastest speeds you are legally allowed to drive under good conditions. As the driver, you are responsible for adjusting your driving speed to road and weather conditions.

In Florida, the standard speed limits are as follows:

  • Rural freeways - 70 mph
  • Urban freeways - 65 mph
  • Divided roads - 65 mph
  • Undivided roads - 60 mph
  • Business or residential areas - 30 mph
  • School zones - 20 mph

How are speed limits determined?

Often, speed limits are determined by figuring out how people actually drive on a particular road, not how they should drive. In other words, when calculating speed limits, Florida - most states - will study people's actual driving habits.

Using this method, transportation experts will chart the average speeds of drivers, assuming that most people will naturally find a speed where they feel comfortable, that avoids accidents and that fits the flow of traffic. They will then determine the 85th percentile, which is the speed at or below where 85 percent of people drive. In most cases, this becomes the maximum speed limit.

Another approach will try to minimize the impact of transportation on society, factoring in travel times, traffic noise, pollution and financial costs. Additionally, maximum speed limits in some areas are calculated by determining what force of impact the human body could endure in the event of an accident.

When are speed limits increased?

Speed limits, of course, are never set in stone. Florida, for example, was the first state on the East Coast to allow speeds to exceed 55 mph on two-lane roads.

These changes can occur when engineers determine it is safe to increase maximum vehicle speeds on certain stretches of highway. These areas are typically more rural, where driver fatigue can impact safety more than speed.

Many states have increased the speed limit on rural highways to 75 mph. Some states, namely Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Utah, have upped the ante with 80 mph maximum speed limits. And Texas has topped them all with the highest legal speed limit in the U.S. of 85 mph.

Is it time for Florida to follow suit with our own speed limit increases? If nothing else, it certainly is time to reevaluate speed limits based on safety and societal impact.

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