US speed limits: what drivers and fleets need to know

US speed limits: what drivers and fleets need to know

Speed limit laws in the United States started in 1901. Connecticut legislated a maximum speed of 12 mph in cities and 15 mph on country roads. More widespread adoption of speed limits started in the early 1970s amidst anxiety over rising fuel prices. A national speed limit of 55 mph was established under President Richard Nixon in 1974. The move saw America’s traffic fatality rate drop per million miles traveled drop from 4.28 in 1972 to 2.73 in 1983.

Still, as fuel costs dropped, the national maximum speed limit on interstates was pushed up to 65 mph. In 1995, Congress gave states the power to set their own individual maximum speed limits.

What is the fastest speed limit in the U.S.?

Of course the big question is, “What is the highest speed limit in the U.S.?” We may not have an Autobahn in this country, but there’s a toll road in Texas that lets drivers travel 85 mph. State Highway 130 stretches between Austin and San Antonio.

Otherwise, since 1995, 35 states have increased their freeway speed limit to 70 mph or higher.

U.S. speed limits by state

Now that you know where you can legally drive the highest speed limit in the U.S., let’s look at the other U.S. speed limits. Ranging from 55 to 85 mph, the maximum speed limit for trucks varies state to state. The following table, edited from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), captures variations in highway speed limits nationwide.

State Rural interstates (mph) Urban interstates (mph) Other limited access roads (mph) Other roads (mph)
Alabama 70 65 65 65
Alaska 65 55 65 55
Arizona 75 65 65 65
Arkansas 75 65 75 65
California 70 65 70 65
Colorado 75 65 65 65
Connecticut 65 55 65 55
Delaware 65 55 65 55
District of Columbia n/a 55 n/a 25
Florida 70 65 70 65
Georgia 70 70 65 65
Hawaii 60 60 55 45
Idaho 75 (80 on specified roads) 75 (80 on specified roads) 70 70
Illinois 70 55 65 55
Indiana 70 55 60 55
Iowa 70 55 70 65
Kansas 75 75 75 65
Kentucky 65 65 65 55
Louisiana 75 70 70 65
Maine 75 75 75 60
Maryland 70 70 70 55
Massachusetts 65 65 65 55
Michigan 70 (75 on specified roads) 70 70 55
Minnesota 70 65 65 60
Mississippi 70 70 70 65
Missouri 70 60 70 65
Montana 80 65 70 70
Nebraska 75 70 70 65
Nevada 80 65 70 70
New Hampshire 65 (70 on specified roads) 65 55 55
New Jersey 65 55 65 55
New Mexico 75 75 65 55
New York 65 65 65 55
North Carolina 70 70 70 55
North Dakota 75 75 70 65
Ohio 70 65 70 55
Oklahoma 75 (80 on specified roads) 70 70 70
Oregon 65 (70 on specified roads) 55 65 65
Pennsylvania 70 70 70 55
Rhode Island 65 55 55 55
South Carolina 70 70 60 55
South Dakota 80 80 70 70
Tennessee 70 70 70 65
Texas 75 (80 or 85 on specified roads) 75 75 75
Utah 75 (80 on specified roads) 65 75 65
Vermont 65 55 50 50
Virginia 70 70 65 55
Washington 70 (75 on specified roads) 60 60 60
West Virginia 70 55 65 55
Wisconsin 70 70 70 55
Wyoming 75 (80 on specified roads) 75 (80 on specified roads) 70 70

Are speed limits for trucks different?

The speed limit for trucks is different in specific states. So, when wondering what is the speed limit for semi-trucks on your route, you’ll want to be aware of the following variations in commercial truck speed limits by state.

Commercial truck speed limits by state

  • Arkansas limits trucks to 70 mph on rural interstates and other limited access rates.
  • California limits trucks to 55 mph on all interstates and roads.
  • Idaho limits trucks to 70 mph on rural interstates and 65 mph on urban interstates.
  • Indiana limits trucks to 65 mph on rural interstates.
  • Michigan limits trucks to 65 mph on rural interstates.
  • Montana limits trucks to 70 mph on rural interstates.
  • Oregon limits trucks to 70 mph on rural interstates.
  • Washington limits trucks to 60 mph on rural interstates.

The speed limits for semi-trucks can also be impacted by cargo. Alabama limits trucks to 55 mph for hazardous cargo such as explosives.

Keep an eye out for new legislation that would limit the speed of heavy-duty commercial trucks nationwide. The measure has been in the works for a decade, but the bipartisan Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to require all new trucks to be equipped with regulators that would limit the speed to no more than 65 mph.

What are the highway speed limits accomplishing?

The increase in speed limits over the last 40 years has increased highway fatalities. According to the IIHS, upwards of 33,000 fatal accidents between 1993 and 2013 could be linked to increased speed limits.

Limiting speed is also believed to have environmental benefits. Lower rates of speed mean greater fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions. With “an estimated 15.5 million trucks operating in the U.S. hauling more than 10 billion tons of freight each year while logging approximately 300 billion miles all told, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA),” cutting fuel use could add up.

What are the speed limits in residential areas?

The speed limit in residential areas also changes by state. This chart, edited from MIT, captures the variations. When the numbers are in parentheses, “there is no special residential speed limit under state law and the indicated state speed limit is in effect if signs are not posted.”

Alabama, 30 Hawaii, n/a Massachusetts, 30 New Mexico, 35 South Dakota, 25
Alaska, 25 Idaho, 35 Michigan, 25 New York, (55) Tennessee, (65)
Arizona, 25 Illinois, 30 Minnesota, 25-30 North Carolina, 35 Texas, 30
Arkansas, 30 Indiana, 30 Mississippi, (65) North Dakota, 25 Utah, 25
California, 25 Iowa, 20-25 Missouri, (60) Ohio, 25 Vermont, (50)
Colorado, 30 Kansas, 30 Montana, 25 Oklahoma, (65) Virginia, 25
Connecticut, (55) Kentucky, 35 Nebraska, 25 Oregon, 20-25 Washington, 25
Delaware, 25 Louisiana, (55) Nevada, (75) Pennsylvania, 35 West Virginia, 25
Florida, 30 Maine, 25 New Hampshire, 30-35 Rhode Island, 25 Wisconsin, 25
Georgia, 30 Maryland, 30 New Jersey, 25-35 South Carolina, 30 Wyoming, 30

 

What are nighttime speed limits?

There are nighttime speed limits in Montana, which requires drivers to slow from 70 mph to 65 mph on limited access and other roads at night. Some other states have nighttime speed limits during particular seasons. Colorado and Florida change the speed limits when drivers are at peak risk of hitting wildlife. Washington also drops the speed on Highway 20 at night due to a high number of deer on the road.

How KeepTruckin’s safety platform keeps commercial vehicles in check

This in-depth look at U.S. speed limits isn’t enough to keep you or your drivers safe on the road. Improve fleet safety by preventing driving beyond these speed limits. KeepTruckin’s proactive safety platform helps commercial fleets and their drivers detect and correct unsafe driving behaviors with industry-leading accuracy.

Notable features include:

Find out more about how KeepTruckin’s safety platform can benefit you. Request a free demo today.

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