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  1. #1
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    Default PA winter speed limit

    I've been trying to figure this out and haven't been able to. Occasionally (more like every week right now), PennDOT decides to lower the speed limit on certain highways to 45 MPH during winter weather. I question how enforceable this is.

    The ways in which motorists are informed are varied and inconsistent. One time last year I saw the message on a digital sign. This year, I've heard about it mostly on the radio and TV. When I was getting on the Turnpike last week, there was a flashing sign on 283 that told me to tune to AM 1600 something and the message was there, but there was another identical sign on the actual Turnpike that wasn't flashing. Even so, I don't believe that Pennsylvania requires vehicles to have working radios, you're not legally required to listen to those stations, and I'm pretty sure that deaf people are allowed to drive, so I don't see how that can be enforceable.

    I believe that PennDOT is allowed to lower the speed limit under the provisions of this section:
    3363. Alteration of maximum limits.
    On highways under their respective jurisdictions, local
    authorities subject to section 6109(e) (relating to specific
    powers of department and local authorities) or the department,
    upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, may
    determine that the maximum speed permitted under this subchapter
    is greater or less than is reasonable and safe under the
    conditions found to exist upon any such highway or part thereof
    and establish a reasonable and safe maximum limit. The maximum
    speed limit may be made effective at all times or at times
    indicated and may vary for different weather conditions and
    other factors bearing on safe speeds.
    There is no requirement for exactly how these limits are to be posted. This raises questions since the section covering normal speed limits does:

    3362. Maximum speed limits.
    (a) General rule.--Except when a special hazard exists that
    requires lower speed for compliance with section 3361 (relating
    to driving vehicle at safe speed), the limits specified in this
    section or established under this subchapter shall be maximum
    lawful speeds and no person shall drive a vehicle at a speed in
    excess of the following maximum limits:
    (1) 35 miles per hour in any urban district.
    (1.1) 65 miles per hour for all vehicles on freeways
    where the department has posted a 65-miles-per-hour speed
    limit.
    (1.2) 25 miles per hour in a residence district if the
    highway:
    (i) is not a numbered traffic route; and
    (ii) is functionally classified by the department as
    a local highway.
    (2) 55 miles per hour in other locations.
    (3) Any other maximum speed limit established under this
    subchapter.
    (b) Posting of speed limit.--
    (1) No maximum speed limit established under subsection
    (a)(1), (1.2) or (3) shall be effective unless posted on
    fixed or variable official traffic-control devices erected in
    accordance with regulations adopted by the department which
    regulations shall require posting at the beginning and end of
    each speed zone and at intervals not greater than one-half
    mile.
    (2) No maximum speed limit established under subsection
    (a)(1.1) shall be effective unless posted on fixed or
    variable official traffic-control devices erected after each
    interchange on the portion of highway on which the speed
    limit is in effect and wherever else the department shall
    determine.
    So I have two questions. Is anybody aware of any cases of winter speed limits being enforced, and is there some other law that describes how temporary speed limits are required to be posted to be enforceable?

    The only reason I'm so worried about it is because, in the government's grand tradition of nannying, these limits are usually applied to more miles of road and for more hours than is necessary. Last week I was driving on a bone dry road with a 45 MPH limit because part of it a hundreds miles away was under the weather.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Probably could see similar signs in the Poconos.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Some people yesterday were doing 65 in a 45 on the highways but cops couldnt hide anywhere and the VASCAR lines were not easily seen. I would like to know the answer to this too.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    I try my best to figure this stuff out when it comes to PA but I don't deal with highways much so I actually had no clue to the legal basis of altering speed limits. After a little bit of research and contacting some acquaintances, I figured out something, anyway.

    State law specifically regulates the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the speed limits upon it. Actually, there's a general "Regulation of PA Turnpike" statute that PSP uses as a catch-all, similar to how a 3111a "Disregard Traffic Control Device" citation can be given as a catch-all for any violation elsewhere. Same fine and penalties, $25 fine with an average of $85.50 in court fees.

    The requirements for posting signs is in Title 75, Section 6110: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI...1.010.000..HTM We're thinking that subsection a.1 applies to emergency speed limits as well, so as long as there's some sort of posting of the emergency speed limit at the entrance of the Turnpike and every interchange thereafter, then it's a valid speed limit throughout that portion of the Turnpike, or at least until the next interchange.

    The emergency speed limit clause is very briefly mentioned in the Turnpike Commission's traffic regulations as well, although it doesn't say much more than what you already know: http://www.paturnpike.com/geninfo/ru...lesregs.aspx#4

    As far as non-Turnpike highways go, that's when it gets a little bit fuzzier. The Governor has permission to declare an emergency speed limit on any roadway he wants and there are regulations behind that, but it doesn't indicate how people would be informed of that. That statute is in Title 75 Section 6108: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI...1.008.000..HTM

    That being said and done: no, I've never seen an emergency speed limit specifically enforced, but I'm sure if someone was really pushing the limit in hazardous conditions then they could be cited for something like careless driving instead. Actually, for that matter, they could be cited for 3361 since that general speed statute mentions about driving at a speed which is reasonable and prudent, which is up to the officer's/trooper's discretion as to what's reasonable.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Thanks krypton. Rep points for checking.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    The turnpike is the only road in PA with the ability to change the speed limit depending on the conditions. The only place I have seen these is section of the road which goes through the Allegheny Mountains. They have speed signs that are light up and they can automatically change the speed. They have all kinds of weather sensors and if it is raining or snowing too hard and visibility drops so does the posted speed limit. Even if fog is too dense the speed lowers.

    As it was pointed out PA does not have any laws specially written about Variable Speed Limits roads which is what they are called and most states have very few laws on the books about this subject. The fundamental issue at hand is what speed is enforced at the time and how do you know and where you properly informed. Obviously the burden is on the state to prove what speed limit was enforce at the time.

    Also as it was pointed out, PA does not have to have specific law about these types of speed laws since they can always site you for too fast for conditions and they just have to show what the conditions were and why it was too fast.
    Last edited by Maestro; 02-03-2011 at 10:44 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    The turnpike is the only road in PA with the ability to change the speed limit depending on the conditions. The only place I have seen these is section of the road which goes through the Allegheny Mountains. They have speed signs that are light up and they can automatically change the speed. They have all kinds of weather sensors and if it is raining or snowing too hard and visibility drops so does the posted speed limit. Even if fog is too dense the speed lowers.
    I've seen them too and they certainly look like valid traffic control devices. They look just like speed limit signs but the number part is digital. I'm sure they probably keep a record of what they're doing with them that can be presented in court.

    It seems like the 45 MPH limit has been applied to most of the interstates in the state at one time or another. My first thought was actually that a cop would just write a 'too fast for conditions' ticket. All they'd have to prove is that there was snow or ice on the road, not that a certain speed limit was posted and in effect.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Quote Originally Posted by supercowpowers View Post
    My first thought was actually that a cop would just write a 'too fast for conditions' ticket. All they'd have to prove is that there was snow or ice on the road, not that a certain speed limit was posted and in effect.
    The good thing about the snow/ice is that the PSP don't usually use their hiding spots, they stick to using the U-turns. With their white cars though, they do blend in. And they'll face traffic, sitting more on the side of oncoming. IMHO...they're more likely to use C/O with the wind and cold weather. I've had two warnings, well in advance, with the Escort-8500-X50-Radar-Detector-p/x50.htm">8500 last week.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Yeah they certainly do seem to be lazy right now, and I check for tire tracks in all the hiding spots but haven't seen any.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: PA winter speed limit

    Quote Originally Posted by Maestro View Post
    As it was pointed out PA does not have any laws specially written about Variable Speed Limits roads which is what they are called and most states have very few laws on the books about this subject. The fundamental issue at hand is what speed is enforced at the time and how do you know and where you properly informed. Obviously the burden is on the state to prove what speed limit was enforce at the time.

    Also as it was pointed out, PA does not have to have specific law about these types of speed laws since they can always site you for too fast for conditions and they just have to show what the conditions were and why it was too fast.
    Thanks for verifying what I said lol

 

 

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