Speed Limits in New York State

Current Speed Limit Information from the NYS MUTCD
(Part 212)

The following is from the current NYS Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices regarding speed limits. This is the standard that is currently in effective, however, the information below will be superceded on September 13, 2007, when New York moves to the National MUTCD with New York State Supplement. Prior to the conversion, these pages will be archived for historical purposes and the updated information will be included here on the site.

Please note that information contained below is strictly for educational and informational purposes. Any person associated with this website assumes absolutely no responsibility for the information contained herein.

212.1 General
  1. Purpose. Speed limit signs inform motorists of speed restrictions established by law or regulation.
  2. Speed limit types.
    1. Linear Speed Limits. A linear speed limit is one which applies along a particular highway, or along a portion of a particular highway.
    2. Area Speed Limits. An area speed limit is one which applies to all highways within a specified area, except those specifically excluded. The area may be an entire municipality, or only a portion thereof. The defined area may also be the grounds of a school, hospital or other institution.
    3. State-wide speed limit. The state-wide speed limit is established by the Vehicle and Traffic Law and is applicable on all highways where other speed limits have not been established.
212.2 Engineering Considerations
  1. General. Speed limits should be established only where engineering study indicates they are justified and reasonable. Unrealistic regulations are ineffective and should be avoided. Experience has firmly established that posted speed limits have little effect on overall traffic speeds. However, realistic limits do provide a sound enforcement basis for citing those who drive at imprudent speed.
  2. Linear Speeds. An engineering investigation to determine a linear maximum speed limit should include the following considerations:
    1. The existing speed pattern, with particular emphasis on the 85 percentile, maximum, and 10 mile-per-hour pace speeds.
    2. Potential traffic conflict due to intersections and roadside development (residences, public buildings, commercial establishments, etc.).
    3. Traffic volumes, parking practices and pedestrian activity.
    4. Accident experience.
    5. Physical conditions, such as pavement width and condition, shoulder width and condition, grades, alignment, sight distance, etc.
  3. Area limits. Evaluations for area speed limits should include the same considerations as for linear speed limits. However, since the specific factors for the highways involved usually vary, a general assessment for the area as a whole must be made.
    1. Within an area, specific highways which warrant higher speed limits than the area in general may be excluded from the area limit and be subject to a different linear speed limit or the State-wide speed limit.
    2. Specific highways which warrant a lower limit than the general area limit may also be separately regulated on a linear basis. However, since highway conditions themselves generally limit speed, speed on those highways would be naturally lower, and exceptioin from the area limit is generall unnecessary.
  4. Numerical values
    1. Maximum Speed Limits should be established at values appropriate for optimum weather and visibility conditions, and free-flow traffic conditions. Appropriate numerical limits generally approximate off-peak 85 percentile speeds.
    2. Speed limits shall be established in multiples of five miles per hour.
  5. Termini and boundaries. Speed limits should not extend beyond locations where they are justified. However, care must be taken in selecting linear speed limit termini and area speed limit boundaries to enable effective sign placement.
    1. Termini and boundaries should be selected so that speed limit signs will have adequate visiblity and will not conflict with other signs.
    2. A speed limit terminus or boundary should be either at an intersection or at least 500 feet from the nearest intersection.
  6. Seasonal and part-time limits.
    1. Frequently, speed limits in recreational or resort areas are required only during the tourist season. Such speed limits should be established and posted on a part-time basis.
    2. Part-time speed limits, applicable for relatively short periods (for example, two hours per day or two days per week), are permissible. Such speed limits should be posted with variable message signs supplemented by flashing beacons.
    3. School speed limits are a special type of part-time speed limit.