How are speed limits set?
A prerequisite to establishing speed regulations and posting speed limits is a comprehensive engineering study. The purpose of the study is to establish a speed limit that is safe, reasonable and self-enforcing. MassDOT’s Procedures for Speed Zoning on State and Municipal Roadways (see link below) provides a more detailed explanation of the process.

Experience has shown that approximately 85% of the motorists drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent. In addition to the traffic study, the warrants also take into consideration the roadway characteristics as well as the reported accident rates for the prior 12-month period.

Based upon the town’s submission of information, the state determines the legal speed limit. It should also be noted that in some cases, a formal traffic study aimed at reducing the legal speed limit might actually result in a determination that an existing speed limit is too low. Instances where traffic studies result in state authorization to reduce official speed limits are rare.

Procedures for Speed Zoning

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1. What is meant by uniform control devices?
2. How are speed limits set?
3. What effect do posted speed limits have on actual speeds?
4. What are the warrants necessary to install a stop sign?
5. What are the warrants for a multiway stop sign?
6. Can we use one way, do not enter, and turning restrictions to control people from cutting through traffic?
7. Can streets be restricted to residents only?
8. Can speed bumps or speed humps be deployed to control speeding vehicles?