During the most recent legislative session, we passed a law allowing the Highway Commission to increase speed limits on specific highways upon an engineering and traffic investigation.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation has now completed a study and made several recommendations regarding speed limits in our state. The department is accepting public comments on the proposals until Dec. 13.
The investigation considered crash histories, speed trends, highway design, and other states’ practices for the following four groups of highways:
• Rural Freeways (fully controlled access facilities that typically have at least two lanes of traffic in each direction)
• Urban Freeways (fully controlled access facilities often with three or more lanes of traffic in each direction. They are characterized by very high traffic volumes and closely spaced interchanges)
• Rural Multi-lane Highways (at least two lanes of traffic in each direction that are separated by either a grass or paved median)
• Other Rural Highways
Currently, rural freeways are posted at 70 mph, while urban freeways are typically posted at 60 mph. Rural multi-lane highways are posted at 55-65 mph, and all other rural highways are posted at 55 mph.
The Department is recommending the following:
· Rural Interstates increase to 75 miles per hour (mph)
· Urban Interstates increase to 65 mph
· Rural Multi-Lane Highways increase to 65 mph, unless an engineering study determines the need for a lower speed limit.
· Other Rural Highways remain at 55 mph, with the option to increase the speed limit to 60 mph on individual highways where an engineering study determines that a higher speed limit is warranted.
The study compares speed limits in states across the country. It also provides data on fatality rates on highways overtime.
If you have not done so already, we encourage you to review the report at www.arkansashighways.com. The website also provides links and forms to submit your comment on the proposals. The comments will be reviewed before the Highway Commission makes a final decision.