Rural speed limit increase

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is studying whether to increase the speed limit on some rural stretches of highway from 55 to 65 miles per hour.

The study is only on four and five lane undivided highways in rural areas. That includes Highway 167 South between Little Rock and Sheridan. The study could allow drivers to increase their speed to 65mph as soon as this summer.

Glenn Bolick, spokesperson for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, says the commission has the authority to set speed limits on highways. “We have 16,000 miles of highway in the state and 9,000 miles of that have 90% of the traffic. A lot of those 9,000 miles is 4 and 5 lane highways in rural areas that are 55mph.”

The study will factor in traffic volume, how long the stretch of highway is, what other speed limits are in the area, and safety. Gary Stephenson is the spokesperson for State Farm Insurance and says studies show when drivers increase speed, reaction time decreases, accidents increase, and so does the fatality rate. “At a greater speed, if there’s an accident, the damage is severe.”

Drivers along Highway 167 South between Little Rock and Sheridan say they’re not worried about safety. Caleb Keener says he just wants the chance to drive faster. “65mph would be nice. It really would help because 55mph isn’t fast enough around here.”

Kevin Elquck thinks an increase in the speed limit would help with the flow of traffic better.

Alex Brown says 65mph is better, but wishes the speed limit could increase to 75mph.

The Arkansas Highway Department’s study should take about 6 months, and if the speed limit does increase from 55 to 65mph, that could happen in August.

The money to change out all the speed limit signs would come out of the routine maintenance budget. The current speed limit signs would be recycled and reused to make new speed limit signs.

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