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Speed Zoning Program
Overview
Speed Limit Sign
 
By law, the Oregon Department of Transportation is responsible for establishing speed zones on all highways in Oregon. The Traffic-Roadway Section is responsible for the overall administration of the program. Region traffic engineering staff conduct engineering investigations to determine recommendations for safe speeds on local roads and streets. Cities and counties may appeal speed zoning recommendations to the Speed Zone Review Panel.
 

Follow this link to find a brochure that describes speed zoning.

 
Speed Zoning FAQs
 
Follow this link to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) concerning Speed Zoning.

 
Speed Zone Standards
 
American law follows the basic idea that most people are reasonable and laws exist to control the few who are unreasonable or inconsiderate. The posted speed zones follow the same idea. The methods for establishing speed zones are based upon careful studies that have been performed in Oregon and throughout the United States.

These studies show that traffic moving at a speed that is reasonable for the road and weather conditions results in fewer accidents. Drivers are more patient because a reasonably uniform speed allows progress with less passing, less delay, and fewer rear-end collisions.

Many people believe that lowering posted speeds will mean fewer accidents, but studies do not prove this. Unrealistically low speeds frustrate many drivers, resulting in numerous speeding violations and unsafe driving, actually causing more accidents. Some motorists may try to make up time by taking a shortcut through residential or other areas that are not suited to higher speeds and increased numbers of cars.

State statutes give Oregon motorists the following speed zone standards:
  • 15 mph-alleys, narrow residential roadways
  • 20 mph-business districts, school zones
  • 25 mph-residential districts, public parks, ocean shores
  • 55 mph-open and rural highways (all vehicles);  trucks, school buses, worker transport buses on interstate highways
  • 65 mph-autos on interstate highways
 
Posted speeds override these statutory standards.

 
The Basic Rule
 
All travel on public streets and highways is subject to the Basic Speed Rule. The Basic Speed Rule states that a motorist must drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent at all times by considering other traffic, road and weather conditions, dangers at intersections and any other conditions that affect safety and speed. In other words, drivers are expected to use good judgment in selecting their speed.
 
The Basic Speed Rule does not authorize a driver to exceed the posted speed. If a motorist is charged with violation of the basic speed rule, the posted speed becomes the primary evidence that he/she exceeded the Basic Speed Rule. In this case, it would be up to the motorist to prove that he/she was driving in a reasonable and prudent manner for the conditions.
 
A person can also drive below the posted speed and violate the Basic Speed Rule. For instance, if there is ice or snow on the roadway, a driver can be traveling less than the speed posted and still be traveling faster than is reasonable and prudent for the conditions.

 
Speed Limits
 
In addition to the Basic Speed Rule, some roadways in Oregon have specific speed limits. Speed signs posted on interstate freeways, any roadway within a city, and school speed zones reflect speed limits. In addition, speed limits apply to certain types of vehicles -- large trucks, school buses and vehicles transporting children or workers.
 
Speed limits do not authorize speeds higher than those required for compliance with the Basic Speed Rule. Conversely, the Basic Speed Rule does not authorize speeds higher than those established as speed limits.

 
Changing a Speed Zone
 
If a city or county thinks the speed for a particular street or highway should be changed it can make a request to ODOT for a review and investigation. Requests are submitted to the Traffic-Roadway Section which initiates an investigation to determine if a speed zone should be changed. The Region traffic engineering staff conducts an investigation using procedures in accordance with nationally accepted traffic engineering standards. Factors taken into consideration are accident history, roadside culture, traffic volumes, and roadway alignment, width and surface.

A major factor in establishing speed zones is consideration of the 85th percentile speed. This is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling. This is used as an indication of the speed most drivers feel is reasonable and safe.

When the investigation is complete, a report with photographs detailing the existing conditions and proposed changes is prepared. The report is sent to the city or county for review. If the city or county agrees with the recommendation, the new speed zone is established.

If ODOT and the local road authority cannot reach agreement on the setting of a speed zone, the speed zone request is referred to the Speed Zone Review Panel. The panel is comprised of representatives of the Oregon Transportation Safety Committee, the Oregon State Police, the Association of Oregon Counties, the League of Oregon Cities, and the Department of Transportation. The panel hears ODOT’s recommendations and testimony from the local road authority and makes the final decision.  It is the responsibility of the road authority to install new speed zone signs.
 
Flow Chart of Speed Zone Establishment Process
 
The Speed Zone Manual and the Speed Zone Request form can be found at this link.
 

 
Work Zone Related Speed Zoning
 
The "Worksheet for Determining the Need for a Reduced Speed Zone for Work Zones" can be found at this link.
 

 
Interstate Speed Limits
Oregon Administrative Rule 734-020-0011
 
With the exception of temporary construction or emergency speed zones orders, all speed zones on I-5, I-82, I-84, I-105, I-205 & I-405 are set at 65 MPH unless directed otherwise by this Administrative Rule. OAR 734-20-0011 was adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission pursuant to Legislative Mandate.
 
After you get to the page linked below, scroll down past the first OAR, (734-020-0005, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) and the first Interstate Speed OAR, (734-020-0010, Establishment of Speed Limits on Interstate Highways) to OAR 734-020-0011, Locations of Interstate Speed Limits other than 65 MPH. click here. 
 
A Recommendation for Setting Speed Limits on Interstate Highways in Oregon

 
Speed Zone Orders On-Line
On-Line Copies of Speed Zone Orders
 
NOTE:  You may be prompted to install Whale Communications software that will enable you to properly access the Order Form data.  If this occurs, click "Install" and follow any instructions.  We apologize for the inconvenience.
To find, view and copy current designated speed zone orders statewide, click here. 
 
When you get to the search page there’s a few things to know in order to help you find your document. See below: 
1. This database only holds the most recent order for a road.  If a speed limit has changed and you’re looking for the old order, you won’t find it here.  You’ll have to contact our Speed Zone Specialist for help.
 
2. The search function will look for anything in our data that exactly matches the criteria you enter in the boxes.  You don’t have to fill out everything to get what you’re looking for.  That is, if you enter “Main” for Road/Highway Name, it will return any number of orders in which “Main” is all OR part of the road name.  (Westmain, Main, Quartermain, etc., all “fit”.  However if you misspell, you will get no return (you will NOT get a record for “Main” if you spell it “Mane” ).
 
3. The more data you fill in, the less records you will get back.  This will narrow the material you need to look through to find what you want.  If you are finding out there are just too many “Main Streets” in the state, you may narrow the results received by specifying you only want “Main Street” records for the City of Aumsville.
 
4. The less data you fill in, the more records you will get back.  This will broaden the material available for you to review.  If you’re not finding what you’re looking for, you may want to broaden your search by filling in less data.  For example, if you’re looking for a speed zone for a city street without success, try removing any entry in the “City” field.  In this way, you may find a speed zone order that was issued when the city street was still outside city limits.  If you’re not sure if a street is within city limits, try leaving the City and County fields blank.  You may want to see all the speed zone orders in one city.  Just fill in the city name and leave the other fields blank.
 
5. In our speed zone database, we spell out “Street”, “Avenue”, etc.  We simply use the first initial(s) for directions in street names such as “S Main Street” or “1st Street NE”.  So if you make the mistake of entering “Main St.” in the search field, you will get no results back because the “St.” (with a period after the abbreviation) is nowhere entered in that database.  With that in mind, you should be able to make entries that bring you the information you want.
 
6. We suggest you keep it simple to start.  Enter less data to see what you get and then refine your search with more data to focus in on what you want exactly.
 
7. If you are unable to get results on a search for a street and if you’re sure you’ve spelled everything right, it is possible there is no designated speed zone order on the road you’re looking for.  Usually, the explanation is that the road may operate under a statutory speed limit such as a 25 mph residential speed.  Statutory limits do not require speed zone orders and we don’t maintain a record of these in our database.
 
8. If you’re having problems locating a speed zone order or having other issues with this service, email our Speed Zone Specialist for assistance.
 

 
Training Program
 
Training classes in conducting speed zone investigations are offered periodically to local agency personnel.

 
More Information
 
Important information on receiving copies of specific
documentation for a speed zone is available here.
Contact the Traffic Roadway Section:
Phone 503 986-3571
FAX 503 986-3749
Or To Email Us Click Here