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Speed Limits

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A common belief is that drivers comply with the speed limit where it is posted. However, statistics indicate otherwise. 

Nationwide studies suggest that the roadway surface and prevailing traffic conditions influence drivers more than the posted speed limit. 

Wisconsin and local laws specify that there are specific unposted, fixed speed limits. This includes the 25 mph speed limit on any street within the city limits except in outlying districts or where otherwise posted. In most residential areas in Appleton, the speed limit is not posted, and all Wisconsin drivers are expected to know it is 25 mph. The 25 mph limit is posted to indicate a change when entering some residential areas from a higher speed arterial street. 

Speed limits higher than 25 mph are established on the basis of traffic engineering studies which involve analyses of roadway conditions, accident records, and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers. Studies show that most motorists drive a speed which they consider to be reasonable and safe under existing roadway conditions, thus the more reasonable the speed limit is, the more likely drivers will comply with it. 

Many drivers will simply ignore the posted speed limit that is lower than is necessary for safe travel, and the resulting average will be higher. Meanwhile, some drivers adhere to the posted speed limit. Consequently, conflict exists between faster and slower traffic. It is especially difficult for pedestrians to estimate the speed of approaching vehicles in this situation. Studies show that the frequency of accidents generally increases where speed uniformity is not maintained.