Speed Limits

Speed Limit Sign

Why Are There Speed Limits?

Speed regulations and speed limits are intended to convey the maximum speed motorists should (and can legally) drive under typical weather, road and traffic conditions. For other conditions, motorists should reduce their speed accordingly as required by law.

Speed Limits also assist law enforcement personnel and promote better traffic flow by potentially reducing a wide variance in speeds.

For additional requirements and considerations pertaining to speed limits in Virginia, consult “Speed Limits” in the Virginia Driver's Manual, published by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

Who Sets These Limits?

Virginia's General Assembly establishes the statutory speed limits for all highways statewide and gives authority to cities and incorporated towns and to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) on state-maintained roads, to decrease and in certain instances increase, speed limits under their jurisdiction.

How Are Speed Limits Determined?

Speed limits (other than statutory speed limits) are established based on an engineering study as required by Virginia law as well as standard engineering practice. The study analyzes various factors affecting the safe and appropriate speed on a particular road such as the type of road (e.g. interstate or residential street), the physical features (e.g. geometry, lane and shoulder width etc.), the type and extent of development (e.g. residential, commercial, rural etc.) along the roadway, the extent of pedestrian activity and the prevailing speed on the roadway under typical conditions.

In addition, appropriate information from law enforcement, as well as their consensus with the speed limit recommendation is considered.

What Are The Speed Limits For Roads That Are Not Posted?

The statutory speed limit is the legal speed limit unless otherwise posted on the highway. This limit is 55 mph for most highways and 45 mph for trucks on routes numbered 600 or higher. In business and residential areas, the statutory speed limit is 25 mph and on unpaved roads, a maximum speed limit of 35 mph applies.

How Can I Get Motorists To Slow Down In My Neighborhood?

Contact the state or local police if motorists are consistently traveling at speeds higher than what is posted on your street. Additionally, for roads maintained by VDOT there are various neighborhood traffic programs to address speeding or other issues in your neighborhood. See here for details.

How Can I Get A Speed Limit Lowered Or Raised?

If you believe there is a need to change a speed limit or for other questions, contact your local VDOT residency office. The local VDOT District Traffic Engineer has the authority to increase or decrease speed limits and considers whether a review of a particular speed limit is warranted based on VDOT’s “Speed Limit Change Process” policy. See the policy here for details.

Are the records of the speed limits available?

The law requires that VDOT maintain a record of changes to statutory speed limits on state-maintained highways in the Central Office of VDOT. These records are available upon request.

A map indicating the posted speed limits on state-maintained highways based on these records is available here.

NOTE: The above information is not intended to replace the laws of Virginia relating to speed limits. For specific questions, refer to Chapters 46.2-870 through 46.2-878 and 46.2-1300 of the Code of Virginia (1950) as amended.

Page last modified: Oct. 18, 2019