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Summary
  • 55 mph is the safest speed when driving on a rural highway. Meanwhile, on residential roads, the recommended speed is between 10 and 25 mph.
  • When managing your ride’s speed, you must consider factors like road conditions, weather, and traffic flow.
  • Some of the ways to avoid speeding include using cruise control, addressing speeding triggers, and exploring other speeding hobbies.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), speeding-related fatalities increased by 8% from 2020 to 2021, killing more than 12,350 people. This accounts for almost 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021.

This data is quite alarming, and it emphasizes the importance of following speed limits.

Safe Driving Speed

Speed limits vary by state and sometimes. They’re typically indicated in increments of 5 mph (miles per hour).

Smaller states with busy freeways and dense populations usually have lower speed limits compared to states with extensive freeways.

If you have a need for speed, Washington D.C. is not the state for you. It has the lowest maximum speed limit in America at 55 mph. Texas would be a better fit for you, whether as a road trip destination or a new home. At 85 mph, it’s the state with the highest maximum speed limit.

road speed limit
Speed limits vary by state and sometimes. They’re typically indicated in increments of 5 mph (miles per hour).

To stay safe and avoid getting in trouble with the law, research the speed limits of the states you’re traveling in.

What to Do When There’s No Posted Driving Speed Limit

When there’s no stated speed restriction on a road or highway, be mindful of your driving speed.

According to experts, 55 mph is the safest speed when driving on a rural highway. Meanwhile, on residential roads, the recommended speed is between 10 and 25 mph.

This recommendation can vary depending on which state you’re in. In California, for example, the ideal maximum speed on most highways is 65 mph. However, on two-lane undivided highways and for vehicles towing trailers, the recommended maximum speed is 55 mph.

How Much Does Speed Affect Safety?

Driving at high speeds can increase your risk of getting involved in a crash because you’ll have less time to react to unexpected circumstances.

Speeding also requires a longer stopping distance. That means you might not be able to slow down your vehicle in time when you need to.

Taking physics into consideration, a collision is deadlier if you’re speeding.

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, a 5% increase in average speed leads to a 10% increase in injury accidents and a 20% increase in fatal crashes.

Meanwhile, a 2023 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study showed that the risk of crashes with fatal, serious, or evident injuries in Seattle decreased by 11% and 20% on arterial roads. The default speed limit on these roads was lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph.

What are the Factors to Consider When Managing Your Ride’s Speed?

According to the basic speed laws of most states, a driver is required to drive a vehicle at a speed that’s reasonable given the specific circumstances. For example, it’s safer to drive slowly regardless of the speed limit when there’s a storm.

Here are the factors you should consider when managing your driving speed:

Road Conditions

Consider the condition of the road you’re driving on. Is it flat, sloping, bumpy, or slippery? Adjust your speed accordingly.

For example, it’s best to avoid driving faster than 45 mph if the road is covered in ice to avoid slipping and getting into an accident.

Weather

Regardless of the posted speed limit, you must use common sense when managing your speed during inclement weather.

For example, you must be extra careful when driving during windy conditions. It’s best to avoid speeding so that you’ll have time to brake or avoid falling debris.

Traffic Flow

Pay attention to the speed of the vehicles around you and adjust your speed as needed. This is especially crucial when you’re in busy high-traffic areas.

Construction Zones

It’s best to drive slow when driving near a construction zone because you’ll need to watch out for workers and equipment. Slowing down will give you time to react in case an accident happens near the construction zone.

Vehicle Condition

It isn’t uncommon to encounter vehicle issues when driving. If you’ve noticed problems that could make driving risky, like your car pulling to one side when braking, then it’s best to maintain a slow speed.

Suspension issues are an excellent example. Worn shocks or struts can affect your ride’s handling and stability, so if you suspect you have this issue, it’s best to drive slowly to the nearest stop to avoid accidents.

Safe Driving Strategies to Avoid Speeding

Make safety your priority while on the road by taking these tips into consideration when driving:

Use the Cruise Control Feature

If your vehicle has cruise control, make the most of it. This feature lets you maintain your speed, especially during long drives on a highway.

With the cruise control on, you can focus your attention on navigating the road rather than regulating your speed. Take note, however, that it’s not safe to use your cruise control in rainy and snowy conditions because the roads can be too slippery.

Don’t Fall Behind Schedule

One of the most common triggers of speeding is being late for a commitment. Whether you’re driving to work or an appointment, it’s best to leave early to avoid heavy traffic.

Identify Speeding Triggers

Aside from being late, try to identify other speeding triggers. If you know what causes this bad driving behavior, it will be much easier for you to avoid it.

For example, some people tend to drive faster when they’re on the way home from work because they’re eager to rest. Others step on the gas when they’re angry or stressed.

Determine your triggers and take measures to avoid them or figure out better ways to deal with them. For example, if you relate to the latter example, consider doing calming exercises to help you manage your emotions while driving.

Explore Other Speeding Activities

If you’re a thrill-seeker, you can try other speeding activities like motocross or downhill mountain biking. Don’t turn the road into your race track because it can lead to severe and fatal consequences.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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