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Speed Limits

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Will a lower speed limit slow down traffic?
Most people believe that lowering speed limits and posting more speed limit signs will cause drivers to drive slower and reduce accidents. Facts indicate otherwise. Decades of research conducted in this country reveals that drivers are most influenced by roadway appearance, traffic, and weather conditions, NOT the posted speed limit.

Although speed limits are not always posted, drivers are expected to know the BASIC speed limits of 15 miles per hour in alleys and 30 miles per hour on residential streets within the City of Amarillo. School zones will be posted 20 miles per hour effective on school days only from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If the school zone is controlled by electronic flashers, the speed limit and hours of operation may vary.

All other speed limits in Amarillo are established on the basis of Traffic Engineering surveys. The surveys include analysis of roadway conditions, accident records, and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers.

The prevailing speed of prudent drivers is established by taking a radar sample of vehicle speeds and determining the speed at or below which 85% of the drivers are traveling. The 85th percentile speed assumes that most drivers are reasonable and will drive at a safe speed, not wishing to endanger themselves or anyone else, and that they wish to reach their destination in the shortest possible time without having an accident.

If speed limit signs are posted for a limit lower than most drivers feel is reasonable, many drivers will simply ignore the signs. At the same time, other drivers will stay within the posted limits. This increases the conflicts between faster and slower drivers, reduces gaps in traffic, and makes it difficult for pedestrians and drivers to judge the speed of approaching vehicles. Studies have shown that where uniformity of speed is NOT maintained, traffic accidents increase.

Realistic speed zoning serves to protect the public and to regulate the unreasonable behavior of an individual. Having recognized that normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable person should be considered legal, the Texas Legislature has passed laws concerning speed zoning in order to assure this.

Speed zones in Amarillo are set in accordance with Texas Law regarding the establishment of speed zones and based upon nationwide standard Traffic Engineering practice.

The Traffic Engineering Department continues to review and adjust speed zones in response to the changing traffic needs within the City of Amarillo.

If you have questions or comments regarding speed limits or traffic problems in general, please call us at (806)378-6294 or e-mail us.

A Public Awareness Program