New Maryland State Law Makes Maximum Speed Limit 70 MPH Effective October 1

(September 30, 2015) – Drivers traveling on Interstate 68 in Western Maryland will save a little time thanks to a new 70 mph speed limit on the highway.  Beginning October 1, the maximum speed limit in the State increases from 65 mph to 70 mph. The new law allows the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) to raise highway speed limits up to 70 mph on select roadways.

Governor Hogan signed the new maximum speed limit law following the 2015 legislative session. Supporters of the law noted numerous highways in adjacent states, including West Virginia and Virginia, are posted at 70 mph and that Maryland highways should be consistent.

SHA engineers carefully evaluated the I-68 corridor and determined that the majority of the interstate could be changed to 70 mph. I-68 is an east-west highway stretching 80 miles from its western border at the Garrett County/West Virginia Line to its connection with I-70 in Washington County. The average daily traffic on I-68 ranges from 12,232 near US 219 to 46,562 in Cumberland. SHA will keep the current speed limit, ranging from 40 mph to 65 mph, on a 7-mile segment between LaVale and Cumberland. This segment has hills and curves that preclude a higher speed limit.

“While the increase is only five miles more per hour, when traveling long distances on an interstate, drivers can save a little time,” said State Highway Administrator Gregory Johnson, P.E.  “We set speed limits based on roadway design and driver behavior. Increasing the speed limit can enhance safety by reducing aggressive driving and the variance in motorists’ speeds.”

SHA crews will place overlays with “70” mph on existing signs along the I-68 corridor beginning tomorrow.  Maryland State Police will enforce the new speed limit immediately following the change.  Drivers should be aware that the increased maximum speed limit should be obeyed or they face fines and possible points on their licenses.

SHA will study other 65 mph highways for potential increases to 70 mph. Traffic engineers evaluate and set speed limits based on several factors including crash data, traffic volume, concentration of truck traffic, actual average speeds, and roadway conditions such as lane width, presence and width of shoulders, hills/grades, alignments and curves.

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