Who Decides The Speed Limit?

So who decides? Who’s responsible? Does he take calls?

There are a half dozen ways I can travel to-and-from work. Each is gauged by Google to be within minutes of one another. The shortest route by mileage is the anti-intuitive ride down Route 10 through Cheshire. As you might remember the last time I went home this way I was stopped (though not ticketed) for speeding.

Thank you unnamed Cheshire police officer. If your goal was to get me to drive slower through Cheshire, you did.

I drove home that way again tonight.

Who decides the speed limit? I’m not just talking Cheshire. Who decides the limit on I-84?

Going home through Cheshire takes me up Flower Street from work then down Farmington Avenue to an oddly placed entrance ramp on the right. You actually join the ramp already in progress sweeping first right then left. You are deposited onto the main stem of I-84 on the far left!

The speed limit is 55 mph. This is an appropriate speed limit.

This section of I-84 It is the only properly limited road on my trip! Once I-84 exits Hartford this “superhighway” is open, wide and mostly straight. The speed limit stays 55 mph. It stays that way most of the way to the split for I-691.

No one is doing 55 mph. No one is doing 65 mph. I did 70 mph tonight&#185. I could have safely done 90 on this open road with few cars. I am driving a Subaru Outback with 2,500 miles. It’s in perfect condition with excellent equipment&#178.

The drivers understood what the safe speed was–somewhere between 70 and 80 mph. That’s what we did and we all got along. Kumbaya.

Route 10 in Cheshire is an older, narrower two-lane highway. It’s mainly straight and runs through the center of the town. During the day, the time the speed limits are aimed at, road speed is mostly limited by traffic. When I drive it’s deserted.

The limit goes from 45 mph to 25 mph in a few steps. I could have sworn an anchor was hanging off the back of my car as I turtled through tonight.

Seriously, trying to follow the speed limit (and even in the 25 mph zone I was doing 30 mph) is impossible. The speed limit is absolutely unreasonable.

So who decides? Who’s responsible? Does he take calls?

This is one of government’s faults. When it administers anything that affects human life it is very conservative and protective. That’s why conservative hate agencies like OSHA and the EPA.

Even though the Cheshire route is the shortest and one that takes the least time it still feels slow… and frustrating.

Cheshire, I love you. I don’t mean to pick on you. You’re just the most glaring thorn in my particular commute.

&#185 – I guess this means I won’t be back tomorrow night or anytime real soon.

&#178 – I am a paid spokesman for Premier Subaru and love driving an Outback. I would have said the same thing had I been driving Helaine’s Toyota or my well maintained 12 year old two seater.

18 thoughts on “Who Decides The Speed Limit?”

  1. We’ve a number of areas like that out in the NW corner also… Limerock drops from 45 down to 35 very quickly, and extends a good ways towards Hotchkiss Corners even when it feels like you’re out in the boonies again. Also up in Mass on Rt 23 the speed drops from 50 to 35 thru Egremont, and a distance to the West where you feel like you’re clear of town. The cops like to park about 1/10th of a mile from the end of the low speed area in both places to pick up people who slightly exceed the posted. And there’s a small grace range. Hit 40 and you’re toast!
    70-80 is a tad on the extreme side though … LOL

  2. Could be worse.

    When I went on a driving vacation three years ago, I drove through Nebraska where the speed limit on the interstate was 75.

    Even though I was used to drving fast, being from Connecticut, I did the entire stretch of highway white knuckling because I was so scared of getting into an accident.

    I didn’t go the speed limit, the most I could convince myself to do was about 67. Stayed in the right lane and had people blow by me going faster than 75.

  3. im a retired limo driver i drove all the interstste highways and i can attest to driving over the speed limit and getting tickets. no passenger i had complain.the speed limit was changed to 55 mph to save on gas in 1973. lots of times i fought some tickets and won

  4. Between Ansonia and Seymour, Route 115 (South Main or North Main depending on which town you’re in) is the same way. It varies anywhere from 25 to 35 to 40 mph. In fact at one point I believe the speed limit is 35 on the northbound lane and 40 on the southbound lane. As for the Interstates, that’s based on population. The densely populated areas are blessed with 55 mph and the less dense area is 65 mph. When I worked in Branford, I95 opened up to 65 mph after I was north of Long Wharf.

    Those in charge at the time insisted that 55 mph was the perfect speed to save on gas, however I have found that I’ve gotten better gas mileage while going 65 mph and it got worse at 55 mph. This law was created back in the ’70s when there were more gas guzzling vehicles on the road. Technology has changed considerably since then.

  5. Unreasonable speed limits of 25 are usually posted because it is a residential zone and people cannot get out of their driveways safely when cars are zooming by at 45+mph.

  6. The quick short answer? The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a publication of the Federal Highway Administration, sets the safety standards at which speeds limits should be set. It sets the standards for studies to determine the safest speeds and where they should be set. But as we all know, those aren’t always followed; how many times have you come across speeds that seem inordinately slow and/or stop signs in the middle of a street?


    Engineers doing safety studies should set the limits; in reality they are almost always politically-based.


  7. The local governmental council has the final word on speed limits. Typically, they will accept the recommended speed from their engineers.

  8. At least all the lights are on yellow blink as of 10PM in Cheshire. You may be going slow but you seldom have to stop!

  9. In fact if you read the drivers manual it states the posted speed limit is during excellent visibility. so, anything other than that you should be doing less than the posted. hmm, that means 25 mph is too fast at night?

  10. Geoff, the only thing you left out in your “confession” was your plate number… I’d take a different route home, too… :=)

        1. I saw it several years ago in New Haven. Unless you’ve changed it since then. Don’t worry Geoff, it’s our secret.

  11. I lived in Mt. Carmel/Hamden for 8 years, and thought the quickest way from Hartford was I-91, to Rt15 to the Quinnipiac exit. I try to avoid stop-and-go routes.

  12. Geoff, speaking of Cheshire, my mom has warned me several times that Cook Hill Rd is 25 mph zone and is closely watched, too. And I do mean that you have to slow down with brakes coming down that steep windy hill or pay the price. BTW that used to be my favorite cut through to 15, then on to 91 North in the Meriden area. Mom is right as usual.

  13. My husband just got a speeding ticket for going 34 mph in a 25 mph zone in Baltic. Only problem is the speed limit sign in one direction says 25 mph, the speed limit sign in the direction he was going says 30 mph. He is taking pictures and fighting it. Then the speed limit when out of that zone is 50 mph, then drops down again to 25 mph.

    Who makes up this stuff is right? We were asking the same questions!

  14. A month ago I got to drive on the Autobahn in Germany. Technically there is a speed limit (130 km/h unless otherwise signed), but in reality the speed limit is set by the conditions, and is not enforced.

    I’ve never been on a road anywhere where *every* other driver on the highway with me was 100% focused on what they were doing and playing by the rules (stay right, only pass on the left, only pass when no one is within sight in the left lane behind you, get back right as soon as you’re done passing). It was exhilarating, and I have to say, I’ve never felt as safe hurtling down a highway at 80 mph. I think humans are conditioned to a “rules are made to be broken” mentality, but if you’re in a situation where the rules are dictated by real-time common sense, everything works much better.

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