Speed Limits, Geometry, and Driver Behavior

Speed management has been an extensive focus of traffic safety research dating back to the 1960s. Research has generally shown crash risk to increase as the average speed of traffic increases and as the standard deviation of travel speeds increases within a traffic stream. However, research as to the effects of speed limits has been somewhat inconclusive. This study investigates how speed limits affect driver speed selection, as well as the resultant crash risk, while controlling for various confounding factors such as traffic volumes and roadway geometry. Data are obtained at very high resolution from a Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) conducted as a part of the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2). These data are integrated with a Roadway Information Database (RID), which provides extensive details as to roadway characteristics in the six-state study area (Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington.) These sources are used to examine how driver speed selection varies among freeways with different posted speed limits, and how the likelihood of crash/near-crash events change with respect to various speed metrics.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $50000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Midwest Transportation Center

    Iowa State University
    2711 S Loop Drive, Suite 4700
    Ames, IA  United States  50010-8664

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    Iowa State University, Ames

    Institute for Transportation
    2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4700
    Ames, Iowa  United States  50010-8664
  • Principal Investigators:

    Savolainen, Peter

  • Start Date: 20160515
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180514
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01607452
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Midwest Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC37
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Aug 4 2016 3:43PM