Speed limits along local roads are a popular topic as cities and counties look to create and maintain livable, walkable communities. Local governments are permitted to reduce the speed limit on local roads that are not part of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) system of state and US highways. For local roads where speed detection devices (radar) are not used, the governing body is only required to pass a resolution adjusting the speed limit and then is responsible for making the physical changes necessary to implement it (new signage, etc).
For reducing speed limits on local roads where the community employs detection, GDOT and the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) adhere to a published process governed by state law. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (§40-6-183) permits cities and counties to decrease the speed limit on local roads in urban or residential areas to as low as 25 mph (in other areas, the lowest permitted speed limit is 30 mph). Any speed limit change on a local road must be done “on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation.” GDOT policy provides the following typical characteristics of such an investigation:
- Representative field checks of existing speeds to calculate the 85th percentile speed and the pace speed [pace speed is the 10-mph range within which most cars using a roadway segment travel]
- Roadside development [the investigation may consider land uses; numbers and types of buildings; driveways and curb-cuts; signage; lighting; and other characteristics]
- Road geometrics and design – width, clearances, shoulders, sight distances, stopping sight distances
- Other conditions of the roadway – parking, presence of pedestrians and trucks
- Accident history – for recent 12-month period
- Test drive – to confirm driving conditions (GDOT Policy 6780-4 – Establishment of Speed Zones)
While GDOT may offer assistance and/or guidance regarding how to conduct the investigation, the city or county is responsible for completion of the work.
Once the investigation is conducted, the local government must update its “List of Roads” on which it uses detection devices for speed enforcement and submit it to the local GDOT district office. After the district engineer signs off on the adjustment, the State Traffic Engineer reviews the List and, upon approval, forwards it to the DPS for permitting.
For communities wishing to adjust speed limits along state routes and US highways, the State of Georgia is directly responsible for making adjustments to those designated roadways. Cities and counties may request GDOT to conduct speed-limit reviews on state and federal roads within their communities.
For additional information or to begin the speed-limit review process, contact your local GDOT district office: