[thechat] Speed limits in USA

Sabrina Dent, Apperception sabrina.dent at appercept.co.uk
Wed Aug 11 12:00:08 CDT 2004

Our insane speed limits began in 1974 with the gas (petrol) crisis; at
the time, 55MPH was the most fuel efficient speed for most cars on the
road. It stayed in place for 21 years after the gas crisis ended, of
course, so that was a bit dumb.

Anyway, speed limits are *interstate* speed limits, meaning major
highways; when not on the interstate, I believe they are the
jurisdiction of local government.

People often point to Montana as a glowing example of what happens when
we repeal any limits at all, which is what the state chose to do until 

> On Behalf Of Luther, Ron
> Speed Advisory signs. We also have these 'other' signs that can be a 
> bit confusing. You might be in a 45MHP speed limit zone and see a 
> sign that says "30MHP Curve Ahead".  AFAIK that's only a 
> recommendation 
> and not a legal requirement.  It doesn't say "speed limit" so I don't 
> think you can get a ticket for speeding if you stay at 43MHP through 
> the turn.

Please do not pillory me as a wussy woman driver, because I am not in a
way a wussy driver. I am a fan of American heavy metal, despite the fact
that my favourite American car was fiberglass (I affectionately called
it the Barbiemobile), and I've done two Skip Barber courses to improve
my high-speed driving skills. I really LOVE driving.

So I will respectfully disagree with my esteemed colleague on this one.
It is in your best interest to observe the recommended limit *for a
curve* if you are not familiar with that stretch of road. Especially in,
for example, upstate New York, Vermont, or the Pacific Coast Highway
where if you break the curve, you fall into a ravine or off a cliff and
into the ocean. Usually the suggested limit for a curve is carefully
calculated by the highway engineers, and they tend to be very clever
blokes with calculators and slide rules muttering about terminal
velocity and inertia and that sort of thing.

I don't know the science behind it, but I do know that there have been
occasions when I've come out the other side of a curve muttering "wow,
they REALLY weren't kidding about that 35 MPH..." as my stomach returned
from my gullet.

The problem is, if you don't know the road, you cannot predict which
occasions those might be.

And remember, kids: decelerate before the curve, accelerate into the

Sabrina Dent

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