Arkansas State Highway Department Talks Speed Limit Increases After Bill Passes

(KFSM) --  Arkansas lawmakers passed a bill that could increase speed limits on interstates in Arkansas, but that change might not be coming as fast as you think.

"Basically what the bill does is authorize the highway department to study raising the speed limit throughout the state," Danny Straessle, spokesman for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department said. "[That] doesn't mean it's going to happen."

When considering speed limit changes, the highway department has to consider much more than changing a sign.

"There's a lot of traffic studies," Straessle said. "A lot of engineering goes into it."

Some Arkansans said even now, people are driving much faster than the current speed limit.

"It should be okay for the most part," Brett McAfee said. "People tend to drive pretty fast down the highway. I noticed a lot of people going quite a bit faster."

Accident statistics and other safety measures are also major factors in deciding whether or not to increase speed limits.

"The highway department sets the speed limit on highways throughout the state," Straessle said. "That's all done by a speed study and certainly, we have to consider the geometric design of the highway. Is it capable of handling those speeds? Safety is a critical factor in this."

Local parents agree and said they worry about their teens driving that fast.

"There are teenagers that go between the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas for ball games, University of Arkansas events, concerts at the Amp," Deborah Seay said. "So, that would be my concern; young adults and teenagers driving that speed."

The State Highway and Transportation Department said you won't see the speed limit signs anytime soon. The department plans to take its time with the study and find the areas in the state where the change would be appropriate.

The department did say the the stretch of I-49 from Alma to Fayetteville would be a good candidate for a speed limit increase as that area is primarily rural interstate.

2 comments

  • James Walker

    The correct rural Interstates where 75 mph posted limits are appropriate are those locations where the actual, current, safe 85th percentile speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions are now 73 mph or higher. That is likely to be almost everywhere outside of urban areas. Restricting rural Interstate limits where 85th percentile speeds are already at least 73 mph does nothing more than facilitate for-profit speed traps where safe drivers are punished for the “terrible crime of driving safely for the conditions”.

    James C. Walker National Motorists Association

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