Speed Limits

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Why and How!

Maryland's State and local traffic engineers receive requests to raise, lower, or simply review speed limits on streets and highways throughout the State. This page will help you, our citizens, elected officials, and communities understand speed limits, how they are set, and how they affect traffic and safety.

How are speed limits set?

Speed limits for various streets and highways are set by Maryland vehicle law. In many instances, these statutory limits do not account for actual traffic conditions important in the safe and efficient movement of traffic. The law provides that these limits can be raised or lowered based on traffic engineering studies.

What conditions influence speed limits?

Speed limits are set higher or lower than the statutory limits when one or more of the following circumstances are present:

  • Traffic characteristics that are unusual because of land use or other conditions.
  • Road design elements that substantially differ from the norm.
  • Prevailing speeds consistently higher or lower than the statutory speed limit.
  • Transition between rural and urban areas on major highways.
  • Schools and significant pedestrian traffic areas.
  • Road construction.
  • Frequent collisions in which speed is a contributing cause.
  • Unusual or unanticipated conditions.

After a speed limit is established, changes could prompt a new traffic engineering study to determine if the speed limit needs to be raised or lowered.