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Traffic Talk: There are limitations to raising speed limits in Oklahoma

by Don Gammill Published: February 18, 2013
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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?

John

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.

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by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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