Seattle lowered its speed limits last year, joining a number of U.S. cities intent on reducing traffic deaths. But some residents are complaining about conflicting signage on speed limits. The police default advice: Go slower.
In early 2015, Seattle became the latest city in a nationwide campaign to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by adopting a broad set of goals to improve safety, reports the Seattle Times. Lower speed limits across the city were a major part of the plan. Last September, the City Council passed a law reducing maximum speeds from 30 to 25 mph on central-city arteries and from 25 to 20 mph on residential streets. Crews installed 145 new street signs announcing the change. But city residents note a lack of consistency between what they see on streets — in terms of signage or driver behavior — and the city’s official speed limits. Some signs with the former speeds remain, and some areas have no speed-limit signs at all.
Officials say drivers should default to the lower limits unless signs show otherwise. “If the sign says 20, 25 or 30 — whatever the sign says — that is the speed limit,” said a Seattle Department of Transportation spokeswoman. Seattle police Detective Patrick Michaud said officers are aware of confusion around the changes. So when they pull over speeding drivers in areas with the reduced speeds, officers tend to focus on education, allowing people to adjust to the change. “Even if you have driven the same route for the last 25 years,” he said in an email, “if you don’t see a speed sign, treat it like it’s the new speed limit.”