Oregon (Yes, Oregon) Raises Speed Limits on Curves; Motorists Give Thanks to Science

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
oregon yes oregon raises speed limits on curves motorists give thanks to science

It’s a great reason to ditch the bike and leave downtown Portlandia.

Oregon drivers will soon feel more wind in their hair, all thanks to the Oregon Department of Transportation and a dictate from the federal government.

Prodded into action by the Federal Highway Administration, the state plans to spend three years updating speed advisory signs on curves, in many cases raising the speed limit by five or 10 miles per hour.

The changes apply to public roads that see more than 1,000 vehicles per day. In total, up to 75 percent of advisory signs will see their limits change.

Why are some speed limits going up? As hard as it is to believe, it’s for safety — federal requirements call for consistent speed limits on curves, rather than piecemeal limits that differ by county. There’s also a technological side to it.

Better road surfaces, vehicle suspensions and tires mean carving up a twisty road in a stock Chevrolet Malibu is a much more drama-free experience today than it was in the 1960s.

To nail down the right speed for a curve, ODOT employees ditched their outdated “ball blank indicator” devices (traditionally used to gauge the force placed on a vehicle cornering at various speeds) for GPS technology.

Officially, the right speed for a curve is the speed that feels natural, though motorists who like life on the edge (or the shoulder) will disagree.

[Source: Equipment World]

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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on May 14, 2016

    I was told in a forced driver's reeducation seminar that the advisory speeds for curves were set based on visibility, not any physical limitations on cornering speed. Observing the posted cornering speeds allows one to react in time when confronted by a twit in the middle of the lane on a bicycle while rounding a blind corner.

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    • Pch101 Pch101 on May 14, 2016

      @VoGo I think that he's griping about "traffic school", which is an alternative to getting penalty points for moving violations in some states.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on May 15, 2016

    Are You sure this wasn't Portland giving up on its speed traps for revenue? There was the Portland officer who spent six hours at a likely location, downhill with a curve at the bottom, to write tickets, but didn't write any. Ahead of the speed trap, a teen held a sign warning "speed trap ahead". When the officer left, he noticed another teen downstream with a bucket and a sign that read "tips". In those six hours, he'd collected over $900, so the two were working for about $75/hour each. With a minimum cost of an uncontested speeding ticket starting at $115, grateful motorists were happy to tip $5, $10 or $20 for the timely warning. That's a clue that a government needs to look elsewhere for "revenue".

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on May 15, 2016

      Hopefully they gave that money to charity -- and not the Police Association! :-D

  • Turkina Turkina on May 16, 2016

    Maybe the speeds need to be adjusted, but the lane markings need to be upgraded all over Oregon. They must use some matte-yellow, non-reflective, pre-faded paint on things, because seeing the road ahead, especially in the rain and fog, is really rough there. Also, many of the roads have no guard rails... so driving along a road through the Coast Range on a foggy night tends to be white-knuckle driving at times. I just tend to ignore the numbers on the signs and use the basic speed law, aka slow the eff down until you can see the exit of the curve.

  • -Nate -Nate on May 16, 2016

    Enjoying the comments as usual.... . -Nate