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A speed limit indicates the maximum speed that is deemed safe for favorable roadway and traffic conditions. Providing an appropriate speed limit helps road users to react safely to encountered problems on roadways, and results in a reduction of crashes. Also, proper speed limits tend to reduce differences in speeds of road users, which provides smoother traffic flow on roadways, and it helps to increase efficient use of the roadways with balancing risk and travel time. Lastly, it is essential for law enforcement to provide sanctions for the reckless, irresponsible, and negligent road users.
Speed limits for various streets and highways are set by Maryland vehicle law. In many instances, these statutory limits do not account for road contexts and actual traffic conditions important in the safe and efficient movement of traffic. The law allows these limits to be adjusted based on traffic engineering studies.
Maryland Code, Transportation § 21-801.1 establishes the maximum speed limits on most typical roadways as the following:
Speed limits are set higher or lower than the statutory limits when one or more of the following circumstances are present:
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.
A traffic engineering study is the observation and analysis of road and traffic characteristics to guide the further application of traffic engineering principles. The study of speed limits examines various different factors such as the following:
If the speed limit appears to be appropriate but speeders are creating a hazard, that calls for enforcement. Contact the law enforcement officers with jurisdiction over your street and ask them to check speeds and enforce the law.
If your street's speed limit itself seems unrealistically high, contact the traffic engineering agency with jurisdiction – all large political subdivisions have a traffic engineering office. If there is no such office, contact your law enforcement agency.
Some residential areas need slower speeds than posted speed limits. Traffic engineering studies can determine if "traffic calming" techniques, such as roundabouts, chokers, raised crosswalks, pedestrian refuge areas, or other physical controls, can reduce speeds and make your street safer.
Speed limits are set for ideal conditions. Drivers need to respond to adverse conditions. Maryland vehicle law requires that motorists drive at a reasonable and prudent speed and with a regard for danger. Motorists must adjust their speed according to the following: 1) existing vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic and 2) road surface, lighting, and weather conditions. You should always maintain a safe speed.
Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration Office of Traffic and Safety Traffic Development and Support Division 7491 Connelley Drive Hanover, MD 21076 410-787-5860
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