By on May 13, 2016

2015-ford-mustang-1

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To nail down the right speed for a curve, ODOT employees ditched their outdated “ball blank indicator” devices (traditionally used to gauge the force placed on a vehicle cornering at various speeds) for GPS technology.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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76 Comments on “Oregon (Yes, Oregon) Raises Speed Limits on Curves; Motorists Give Thanks to Science...”


  • avatar

    Speed limits on curves?

    I enter curves between 40 and 60 MPH…no problems.

    I exit curves and enter the highway at full throttle.

    I never knew this was an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      You should try driving in Pennsylvania for a day. Yield signs at the end of On-ramps to I-80. “Yield? That’s French for Stop, right?” Cue a mile long traffic jam on an on ramp to a 65 mph because people think they HAVE to stop. You won’t be able to go any faster than a crawl around turns with people in front of you either. Wanna pass them? Good luck. The state actually spent tax payer money to put rumble strips in the double yellow.

      • 0 avatar

        Normally I drive down there to Sunset Hills or one of the other private ranges for riflery and I make the sparsely travelled i80 and i280 my playhouse. Straightline all the way – hitting speeds I can’t even mention online.

        You guys have cops waiting around bends, but they typically won’t stop you if you’re a little above the limit. They’ll hop on and follow – wait for you to do something “else” and then pull you over. Smartest thing to do is exit at a gas station and if they do stop you: “Sorry officer, I needed to get to the bathroom…never mind my RACECAR”.

        Don’t ask how I know.

        • 0 avatar
          TEXN3

          You should google Cabbage Hill and understand the need for cautionary speed signs in Oregon. Try to not to sound like an ignorant prick anymore.

          I drive this stretch often and the increased speed zone is nice, can do 75 more safely now, so the increase was definitely nice to have.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            ” Try to not to sound like an ignorant prick anymore.”

            Youd have better luck telling the wind not to blow. A leopard cannot change its spots, after all.

          • 0 avatar

            My father drove down Cabbage Hill into Pendleton, in ’52, in the ol’ Studebaker, after a v e r y long day. That was before it was double-barreled, and I’m guessing it was much more difficult then.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        Yes, PA is crazy, put people fail to merge properly there because lots of onramps actually do have STOP signs where any other state would put a yield sign. It’s wild, and has taught many drivers to habitually stop on highway onramps.

        The center, double-yellow rumble strips are pure genius though. They’re amazingly effective at cutting down rural head-on collisions. (Especially with the proliferation of cell phones.). You do know that double-yellow means that you aren’t allowed to overtake anyone in the first place, right? All the center-rumbles do is knock some sense into text-and-drivers before they demolish innocent folks driving the other way.

        • 0 avatar
          Silent Ricochet

          Yes. I understand what the double-yellow means. But, there’s only so many miles I can tolerate being stuck behind a Prius going 20 mph below the speed limit on route 209 driving through a state park.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            “there’s only so many miles I can tolerate being stuck behind a Prius going 20 mph below the speed limit”

            I hear ya. You and me both, brother.

            Not only a PA thing or a Prius thing. Brewton, Alabama is the only place I’ve seen people:
            -consistently drive 10mph under the posted speed limit, whether that limit is anywhere from 30-50
            -sharply hit their brakes for the “school zone when lights flashing” sign at 9pm on a Sunday (the lights weren’t flashing)
            -already be well under the speed limit, hit their brakes a block from a green light, so that the light assuredly changes yellow and red as they get there
            -still blow through stop signs and out of driveways to pull out on the main road

            No exaggeration, but it has to be seen to be believed. I’m wonder if they’re actually brilliant fuel savers and hypermilers disguised as inbred local yokels?

            And it’s not the only place people drive like that.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “The state actually spent tax payer money to put rumble strips in the double yellow.”

        We have to budget some funds for idiots who insist on passing where it isn’t safe to do so.

        • 0 avatar
          Silent Ricochet

          Imagine a straight piece of road. As far as the eye can see. No changes in elevation along the entire route. And yet, there’s a rumble strip in the middle of the double yellow. And you’re stuck behind a 1960s burnout freebird tree hugger admiring the landscape while doing 30 in a 45. For 20+ miles.

          Tell me it wouldn’t at least cross your mind to pass them.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Imagine a highway engineer who is more knowledgeable about road design, lines of sight, etc., than you are.

            No, that isn’t really difficult to imagine.

          • 0 avatar
            operagost

            This situation seems to be extremely common in rural Chester county. No passing zones for miles on a flat (well, flat for PA), straight road. And a posted 45-55 MPH limit. And a guy in front of you going 10 under for the last five miles.

            I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve been able to actually try to pass one of these slowpokes because of the stupid no passing zones. I’m afraid that the next time I’m visiting a more sensible area, I’ll be fuming behind a blue-hair while not noticing the line is dotted.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      It has nothing to do with your speeds, although full throttle on an on ramp seems dangerous and excessive.

      There are standard posted speed limits on most all roads which are restrictive in nature. What they are talking about is speed advisory signs on corners. Those are yellow versus the while speed limit signs.

      It is not and never really was an issue. The article is about traffic flow and safety.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      That’s because Nassau PD is too busy chasing drug dealers around Hempstead, and Rockville Center Village cops are too busy writing parking tickets. Im in NC now and by comparison NYC was a playground WRT traffic enforcement. I got more tickets in one year down here than in ~10 years of driving in NYC.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Most big-city cops don’t have time for minor traffic violations. Here in Seattle, on the state highways or in the suburbs, you better watch yourself, but in the city of Seattle you can usually get away with 10-15 over on the few roads where it’s safe.

        • 0 avatar
          CliffG

          I presume you have a fully modified Baja racing Toyota truck if you are going 15mph over the speed limit in most of Seattle. Seriously, if the traffic doesn’t have you at dead stop, the road quality (or lack thereof) will keep your speed modest. The one place for real speed is the NB express lanes underneath the convention center, no place for cops to hide and super smooth. 10pm, little traffic…and about a mile and a half…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I’d like to see you exit the Merritt Turnpike at 40-60 MPH.

      From a safe distance.

      With a lot of cameras around.

      • 0 avatar
        palincss

        If you’re talking about The Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, it’s famous Death Merges rate a paragraph in the Wikipedia: “The Parkway has two lanes in each direction. Due to its age, it was originally constructed without the merge-lanes, long on-ramps, and long off-ramps that are found on modern limited-access highways. Some entrances have perilously short and/or sharp ramps; some entrances even have stop signs, with no merge lane whatsoever; this leads to some dangerous entrances onto the highway. Most have since been modernized, with the interchange of Route 111 in Trumbull featuring Connecticut’s first single point urban interchange (SPUI). The speed limit on the parkway ranges from 45 to 55 mph (70 to 90 km/h).” The Wikipedia neglects to mention, traffic is usually moving at 70 to 80 mph, making getting up to speed from a stop sign at one of those no on-ramp at all entrances a pedal-to-the-metal ride of terror.

        • 0 avatar
          MQHokie

          Sounds like someone needs to stick to the nice, serene 35MPH back roads of CT. It’s really not that hard to merge onto the Merritt/Wilbur Cross – after all, EVERYONE just drives in the left lane all the time, so there are plenty of opportunities to merge.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    I’ve always wondered how and when speed limits for curves were calculated and posted. There are plenty of mildly twisty main roads here in the Hudson Valley that have speed limits on curves well below the posted speed limit of 55. Drivers slam on their brakes every time to do the suggested 35 around a slight corner like their lives depend on it. Makes me think those speed limits were created in a 1980s Town Car . On the other hand, I also feel that most older drivers think that if they feel any kind of G-forces in their car that they’re doing something wrong and need to slow down. So it’d be interesting to see if people actually travel faster around those turns in Oregon after the limits are raised.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Makes me think those speed limits were created in a 1980s Town Car.

      That’s being generous, probably were last updated with a 1975 Electra 225.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      This isn’t always the determining factor, but 0.2g is a common rule-of-thumb for keeping a turn comfortable for queasy passengers. Yellow signs show advisory speeds, after all, not actual legal limits, so it’s a number that won’t scare anyone. Banking a curve means you can go faster before hitting that 0.2g.

      Speed limits are often based on sightlines vs. reaction times.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        Back in the 1970s, when I was in high school in New Jersey, we were told by our driver’s ed (remember that?) teacher that the advisory speeds in curves were determined by halving the speed at which a police cruiser’s tires began to squeal as the vehicle moved through the turn. In many cases, that excercise was performed in the 1940s and 50s. Since that time, officials have done everything in their power to straighten out every road they can in these parts. Apparently, then as now, it was simply asking too much for “drivers” to keep their cars and trucks on the road.

        • 0 avatar
          fincar1

          I’ve always suspected that the advisory speed signs for curves in western Washington were set so that granny driving the motorhome with a low tire on a rainy, windy moonless night can make it safely. And some of the normal speed limits too….

  • avatar
    RazorTM

    It’s actually, “ball bank indicator,” not “blank.”

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I’ve never liked American cars but man, the angle on that Mustang makes it just perfect. What a great design.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    You can thank science. I thank Ford Mustang engineers for waking up to the reality of IRS, only 40 years later than the rest of the industry.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “You can thank science.”

      Science be praised!

      “I thank Ford Mustang engineers for waking up to the reality of IRS, only 40 years later than the rest of the industry.”

      Science damn you!

      honestly, the vast majority of people who complained about the Mustang’s rear axle were never going to buy one anyway. They were just a bunch of yokels who needed something to point and go “haw haw” at after the millionth time parroting some Clarkson one-liner. The last S197 handled just fine in spite of the live rear axle.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        You may be right, JimZ,
        In my head it was always:
        – “I can’t get a Mustang, because live axle”
        – “I can’t get a Camaro because no visibility and I don’t deal meth”
        and
        – “I can’t get a Challenger, because I don’t have issues with ED”

        Now I don’t know what to get.

    • 0 avatar
      jrhmobile

      Actually, looking at the steering angle on those front tires in that image and the differences in blur between the treeline and the grass in the foreground, I think you can thank the science of Adobe Photoshop …

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I think that might even be a rendering, not a photograph.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Mustang gets IRS and curve speeds go up.

          Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            The log axle Mustang was fine in curves, so long as the pavement was smooth. Any bumps or unevenness and it all went pear-shaped.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            On smooth/OK pavement curves, log axle Mustangs are faster than IRS, especially near the edge of grip.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            IRS or not…the curves here in these Ozarks don’t even phase the kids driving pick ups here.
            No matter how fast I take the mountains, I always find somebody in a Dodge pick up or fifth wheel on my butt doing 60 plus.
            Easy.
            I have no idea how these folks drive like this. Skill or stupidity.
            And they sure know every curve.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            PrincipalDan – – –

            The “IRS” Mustang is being produced for international sales to Germans (and other Euro’s). And it works: The 2016 Mustang is now outselling sports models from Porsche and Audi in the 1st quarter of 2016, in Germany!

            But from a performance point-of-view, the older live axle Mustang with Watts linkage and Griggs adaptation was almost equally as good as IRS in corners**, — with a difference that only an experienced race driver would notice. BUT: the live-axle Mustang could also be used for massive power delivery from upgraded engines used in drag racing, or other venues in which rapid acceleration was important, — without fear of breaking something.

            Even though the whole “world” seems to be going with heavier IRS, that sort of suspension isn’t the “end-all-be-all” it’s cracked up to be. How many REAL pickup trucks would you sell with IRS; or how about Jeep Wrangler’s?

            ———–
            ** If the corners had an outside camber with wash-board pavement, then no, a live axle could not do quite as well, but the Griggs work did compensate somewhat. So, Ford had largely solved the issue, but only went IRS for international marketing. Locally, I know of no live-axle Mustang American owners who welcomed the IRS, but now that it’s here, we have to deal with it.
            ———–

            ======================

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Yes, at the steering angle depicted, that ‘stang would be in the ditch in 2 milliseconds.

        Damn nice looking car, though.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Why not allow the driver the ability to ascertain what speed he should travel around a curve, so long as he doesn’t exceed the posted limit for that stretch of road?

    Also, are the speed signs on curves advisories, not mandated speed limits? I can’t believe speed limits on curves, what kind of people think of these things?

    If a stretch of road is too twisty, then the limit on the whole stretch should be altered, not just the speed on curves.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Advisories – good old advisories. Even my 2010 Highlander 4×4 (read: Kluger for those in Oz) can take a 45 mph advised on ramp at 65.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, “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.” is a terrible writeup.

        Advisory signs are NOT “speed limits”.

        They’re suggestions – which people not in topheavy cargo vans or tractor-trailer rigs can safely ignore in most if not all cases.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        But what if you were driving a semi rig?
        Advisories should be calibrated for the least capable vehicles in the traffic mix.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        I saw a Hummer H2 recently take an on-ramp just before I took it, moving at a pretty good clip. The H2 only accelerated after entering the on-ramp, to speeds faster than I thought prudent, and much faster than traffic already on the highway. It leaned and bobbed, but it held the road. Not that I think it’s a good idea to test them, but the limits of even the “pigs” are pretty high these days.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Have you driven in Oregon? Corner advisories play an important role. The whole road can be full of corners or just portions and the corners can vary quite a bit thanks to elevation change which is just about everywhere except eastern Oregon (minus the Blue Mountains of course). If the road is too twisty as you say, the speed limit is adjusted, but that still doesn’t account for every sharp corner.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “If a stretch of road is too twisty, then the limit on the whole stretch should be altered, not just the speed on curves.”

      You should try driving across mountains sometime. You’re not going to want to attempt 90 km/hr through the tight curves, nor are you going to tolerate 20 km/hr on the straights.

      The posted speeds for curves are usually about what you can do in winter conditions with good tires.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Also, are the speed signs on curves advisories, not mandated speed limits?”

      they’re advisory. the actual speed limit is the one posted for the road. Advisory speed limits through curves are more or less there so that the police can write you up for “speed too fast for conditions” if you wipe out.

      i.e. (and I’m talking solely about the United States here) if the prevailing speed limit for the road is 40 mph (posted on a white sign with black text) then that’s the speed limit for the road. if, somewhere along the road there’s a curve, and an advisory speed limit is posted (a yellow sign with black text) of 30 mph, you shouldn’t be pulled over for driving at 40 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I remember in driver’s ed., we were told to slow down to the yellow speed (probably just so we were aware of them). That, and stick to the posted limit. (And use of cruise control on the highway was also verboten.)

        (Don’t know how folks got along before cruise made it into almost every car; in 2003, I had a base Focus Mk1 as an Enterprise loaner after a ditz in a ’96 Taurus tried to mate with my 2000 Accord. I drove from Toledo to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH, to meet up with some folks. The drive out wasn’t bad, but the next day, my right foot was cramping something terrible from holding down the pedal for an hour to maintain 80mph on the Ohio Turnpike. Other thing I remember is that the turn signals in that car, the sound produced likely through a speaker instead of a relay, were loud enough to wake the dead!)

        I’ve already carped enough on here about folks who can’t merge into freeway traffic for sh!t, thinking that their car will spontaneously combust over 2/3rds-throttle and 50mph, so…!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        JimZ,
        I have yet to see a cop in the US sitting on a curve with a radar or following a driver and pulling them over.

        Here in Australia we do have some windy roads, even straight roads with unusual right or left hand 90 degree bends in 110kph speed zones.

        What we have is massive warning and advisories on the approach to these normally unnecessary bends.

        Most of the time these can be engineered out. Except the farmer or whomever doesn’t want to sell up his land or the compensation offered for the land is inadequate.

        I suppose like most things in life we will have to live with these types of roads. They can be fun, but 80% of the time you are driving a point A to point B run, so these types of obstacles slow you down.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          The physics to enforce curve “speeds limits” isn’t there anyway. There’s only a brief moment when a ‘rotating car’ would be aimed directly at the radar gun, not moving into, then away from the panorama.

          From what I understand, the gun has to fire 3 times and averages the readings, so it would take too long for the ‘window’. plus influenced by the speeds entering and exiting.

          Except, would the “speed limit” be all through the turn, or just the “apex”? Where would a curve officially begin and end, and or, who would decide where’s the official apex?

          Curves “self police”, so if you didn’t slide off, and or crash, you did it safely enough.

          But since I understand a radar gun has to fire 3 times, the second I spot the radar trap, and I’m doing over the speed limit, I’ll stand on the brakes and hope for the best. It seems to have worked so far, meaning if I doing 55 and the posted limit is 45, gun will have to ‘average out’ 55, 45 and 35, if I’m stopping fast enough, and the gun is that slow.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    But what about Jack Benny’s Maxwell? I don’t think it will be able to keep up.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    In the late eighties, even as the interstates were still posted 55, I drove an a stretch of (two lane)highway 74 somewhere in the vicinity of Asheville NC. There was a place where there was a 55mph speed limit sign, and a very, very tight set of curves visible just beyond. I stopped and took a photo of it, somewhere it is lurking in my hundreds of Kodachrome slides. Seriously, I doubted that anything less than a purpose built sports car at that time could take those curves at that speed. I took the ‘ol ’87 Sable through them at 40-45.
    I wonder if that speed limit still stands there this many years later.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    Next thing you know, Oregonians will be able to pump their own gas.

    What is this world coming too?

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      In rural and sparsely-populated areas, they now can! The law changed within the past year.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I lived in Portland in the early 90s. Back then, on a busy four-lane boulevard, vehicles on all 4 lanes would roll to a polite stop to allow a jaywalker to shmooze along.

      And of course, the 4-way stops are always time-consuming and frustrating for all parties involved. (No, you first. No, you. No, I insist. No, you first).

      I think things are no longer like this due to out-of-state migrant dilution.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        If another vehicle or two is approaching at the same time as I, I’ll slow to just over a crawl, just to make sure I’m the last one stopped! Most of the time, it avoids that problem! (It wouldn’t be an issue if folks would remember that just as in aviation and nautical navigation, the vehicle to your right, all else being equal (like if you and the other driver stop at the same time), has the right-of-way. And in a traffic pattern around an airport, faster traffic has the right-of-way. (Correct, @Bunkie, @SWA737, and other pilots among the B&B?) Of course, there aren’t speed limits posted in the sky (just imagine some bozo in a Cirrus SR-22 holding up a line of 747s on a tightly-spaced parallel long final, despite the lead pilots flashing their landing lights in disgust), and unlike on the ground, a pilot ticket is EARNED, not an assumption! Of course, ATC is there to keep order, and not just to issue tickets! That is, unless you violate some sort of flight restrictions serious enough to warrant a couple of po-po in F-16s rather insistently bidding you to pull over at the closest airfield of their choice where some nice fella from the FAA might want to have a discussion with you, lest said F-16s ruin your day further by giving your aircraft a Sidewinder enema, damn the consequences!)

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Speed limit signs on curves are suggested speed limits, no? That’s how they are in the Northeast, I believe. They are yellow signed that are a suggested speed. As a rule of thumb, I can always safely double the suggested speeds on curves, IN MY JEEP! In my Audi, double the suggested speed doesn’t even usually produce any body lean at all.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Yeah I don’t believe anyone/anywhere ever gets stopped and cited for exceeding the posted curve suggestions. How would a cop stage enforcement or a trap? To pace you, they’d have to exceed it too.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Yellow signs are advisory, not mandatory. It’s in the MUTCD.

        mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/services/publications/fhwaop02084/

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        I got stopped for going above the advised limit, but that’s probably because it was a gravel road and I was in a four wheel drift around the whole corner while the cruiser went by the other way.

        He just warned me though.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Well, it’s not like the po-po would actually BREAK A LAW, now, would they?

        /sarcasm :-)

        I will give my local folks in blue credit where it’s due: I was behind a local cop in a school zone, and he was keeping his Tahoe within three of the 20mph posted. (By “within three,” I mean I could tell he was struggling to keep it low, since you can’t set a cruise control that low. Most folks I know who religiously stick to the numbers are pretty good with setting a cruise control for 25mph zones, and are good about staying out of the left lane, at least after I’ve had a reasonable and honest conversation with them on the subject. I haven’t broached the freeway entrances at 50mph yet, but I’ll get there eventually!)

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    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.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    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”.

  • avatar
    Turkina

    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.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Enjoying the comments as usual….
    .
    -Nate

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