A couple of weeks ago, we addressed states and speed limits. I said at the time, we would travel that road again soon.
How about now?
Texas recently increased the Interstate speeds to 75 and turnpike speeds to 80. When will OK follow suit? And if not, why not?
Here's Terri Angier, someone who knows all about that topic, John. Terri is chief of media and public relations for the state Transportation Department. Here's what she says:
“Each state differs on what they set their speed limits at, depending on engineering studies based on many factors and legislation in their state.
“In Oklahoma, in 1996, Senate Bill 685 set the maximum speed limit on turnpike and rural interstates at 75 mph and maximum speed limit on four-lane divided highways and interstates at 70 mph.
“Determining and raising or lowering speed limits on roads is a very important issue and ODOT take this very seriously. Speed limit laws are not one-size-fits-all, as evidenced by the varying speed limits in all 50 states and with each individual facility within that state.
“Before any speed limit changes are made, our traffic engineers look at all of the elements of the roadway and surrounding area, including the state's terrain, specifically each roadway's geometrics and what speeds it is or can be designed for, accident history, amount of intersecting roadways and current traffic patterns. Currently, the posted speed limits on any given roadway is what that highway can handle safely for the most optimal use.
“Current speed limits are revisited periodically to determine if any changes ... are needed ... speed studies can be requested by local entities inside incorporated areas to determine if limits need to be adjusted on specific roadways. ODOT works closely with local city and county governments who request a change in speed limit to determine if current traffic patterns and volumes warrant a speed limit change.
“Overall, the department facilitates more speed limit reduction requests than speed limit increases, which might indicate raising speed limits may not be warranted at this point.
“It is crucial to point out that even if legislation changes the maximum speed limits on roadways, that doesn't mean all speed limits will be raised to that level. The speed limit on each individual stretch of roadway will continue to be evaluated on an individual basis.
“It should also be pointed out that part of the discussion of raising or lowering speed limits will include a consideration of how severity of accidents can be affected by higher or lower speeds. In other words, high speeds can contribute greatly to the severity of an accident depending on the different circumstances and at times a five-mile increase in speeds can affect if the accident is severe or critical.”
By the way ...
Here's the answer to the last part of your question.
“Currently, ODOT is not considering a speed increase,” Angier says. “However, if legislation is introduced to raise or lower maximum speed limits, ODOT will work with legislators to evaluate safety issues and concerns with speed limits changes.”
There you have it.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.