Speed Limits

Maryland's State and local traffic engineers receive requests to raise, lower, or simply review speed limits on streets and highways throughout the State. Here is how speed limits are set and how speed limits affect traffic and safety.

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Percentile Speed 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 allows these limits to 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 are unusual because of land use or other conditions
  • Road design elements substantially differ from the norm
  • Prevailing speeds are consistently higher or lower than the statutory speed limit
  • Transition between rural and urban areas on major highways suggest reconsidering speed limits
  • Schools and significant pedestrian traffic suggest reconsidering speed limits
  • Road construction requires modified speed limits
  • Frequent collisions in which speed is a contributing cause suggest reconsidering speed limits
  • Unusual or unanticipated conditions suggest reconsidering speed limits

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.