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What are statutory speed limits?

Despite what some drivers seem to think, speed limits are not arbitrary numbers that a police officer pulls out of a hat.

Governments at state, local and federal levels have the right to set the speed limits. But what are statutory speed limits?

Defining statutory speed limits

The Arizona Department of Transportation discusses the establishment of speed limits and what goes into that. The speed limit is set based on a reflection of reasonable and safe behaviors that most drivers engage in on certain stretches of road.

Each state has the ability to set speed limits for different types of roads. Posted speed limits will supersede statutory speed limits, but the statutory limits are the ones that drivers must abide by with no other limits posted.

Statutory speed limits in Arizona

These limits exist as another reflection of the average driver’s reasonable and safe behavior on roads of different materials. For example, school crossings set the statutory limit at 15 miles per hour. In residential or business districts, the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. On any other road, the speed limit is 65 miles per hour.

Do statutory limits ever not apply?

Yes. Outside of the aforementioned scenarios where posted speed limits exist, a statutory limit also does not exist if hazards, both actual and potential, make it safer and more reasonable to drive at an even slower speed.

For example, at winding roads or intersections, it is reasonable to assume the statutory limit speed drops to accommodate a higher need for safety.