Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help

Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation

Home > Technical Subjects >Traffic Issues >Why Not Lower the Speed Limit to Reduce Hazards?

Why Not Lower the Speed Limit to Reduce Hazards?

An unrealistically low speed limit can actually lead to crashes. Here's why:

  • Many studies conducted over several decades in all parts of the country have shown that a driver's speed is influenced more by the appearance of the roadway and the prevailing traffic conditions than it is by the posted speed limit.
  • Some drivers will obey the lower posted speed while others will feel it's unreasonable and simply ignore it. This disrupts the uniform traffic flow and increases crash potential between the faster and the slower drivers.
  • When traffic is traveling at different speeds, the number of breaks in traffic to permit safe crossing is reduced. Pedestrians also have greater difficulty in judging the speed of approaching vehicles.

Maine Statutes, Title 29A, Sections 2073 to 2075 deal with unlawful speed. This law states that "a person may not operate a vehicle in excess of maximum speed limits..."

Maine Statutes, Title 29A, Sections 2073 and 2075 authorizes the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, with the approval of the Chief of the State Police, to set maximum and minimum speed limits on a public way.

Maine Statutes, Title 29A, Section 2074 states that the following are maximum rates of speed, except when conditions or other regulations require a lower speed:

  • 15 mph in a school zone during recess or during opening or closing hours
  • 25 mph in a business or residential area or built up portion, unless otherwise posted
  • 45 mph on all other public ways, unless otherwise posted. (In addition, there are 3 other exceptions not stated here.)

Maine Statutes, Title 29A, Section 2075, states that speed limits may be specifically restricted in a work zone on a public way. A person may not exceed the speed limit as long as the speed limit has been posted on standard black and white speed limit signs on that way. The penalty is a fine equal to twice the normal fine.

Maine law also states that a municipality may not alter, enact, or enforce a regulation contrary to the State statutes. In other words, any town must receive approval of the MDOT and the Chief of the Maine State Police before any speed limit is enacted or altered.


This page last updated on 1/9/13