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Speed limit testing underway

The speed limit signs on Irvine Avenue Northwest (Beltrami County Road 15) in the Buena Vista area, Birchmont Beach Road Northeast (County Road 20) from Bemidji Road to the Bemidji State Park (these will be reposted on May 6) and Lavinia Road Northeast (County Rd 19) from the Power Dam Road Northeast (County Road 12) to Lavinia proper have been temporarily removed in conjunction with a study that MnDOT is conducting to determine appropriate speed limits for these areas. The studies were requested by the county to establish the safe and proper speed limits on these routes. Removal of the signs allows drivers to travel at speeds they feel naturally comfortable and safe. However, per the Minnesota speed limit law, no person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions. The statute limits top speed to 55 mph unless posted otherwise or conditions dictate a slower speed.

To determine the proper speed limit, MnDOT conducts an engineering and traffic investigation. The most important part of the traffic investigation is the speed study. When choosing a speed, drivers take many roadway environment factors into consideration. Therefore, the speed that the majority of people consider prudent is an important value. Data is collected by performing radar checks at selected locations on the roadway under ideal driving conditions. A technical analysis is done on the results to determine the 85th percentile. This is the value indicating the speed at which most (85 percent) drivers are traveling under. Experience has shown that a posted speed limit near this value is the maximum safe and reasonable speed. Studies have shown that traveling much faster or slower than this value can increase your chance of being in a crash. Engineering judgment is also an important tool. The traffic investigator will use knowledge of nationally accepted principles combined with experience to assign the safe speed.

For more information on speed limits, check out the MnDOT website at or contact Beltrami County Highway Department 333-8173.