Study Leads to Speed Limit Increase on U.S. 84/SR 38

TIFTON, Ga. – If you’ve traveled on U.S. 84/state Route 38 between Thomasville and Bainbridge recently you might have noticed the speed limit signs now read 65 instead of 55.

The Georgia Department of Transportation raised the limit from the west side of Thomasville to the east side of Bainbridge based on the results of a recent study. The new signs went up within the past several weeks and today DOT maintenance crews extended lane lines at the highway’s busiest intersection at SR 262 in Climax.

Georgia DOT received a request to perform an engineering and traffic investigation to determine an appropriate maximum speed for U.S. 84/SR 38, District Traffic Engineer Van Mason said.

Traffic Operations did the study in May. Engineers recorded the speeds of vehicles, studied the roadway topography, reviewed accident history and considered vehicle volumes and other pertinent information at numerous locations along the route.

“We found that the operating speeds were fairly high and in order to eliminate the possibility of having greater than desired speed differentials, the decision was made to raise the speed limit,” Mason said.

Studies have found that safest conditions exist when vehicles are not traveling at widely differing speeds because faster moving vehicles aren’t attempting as many lane changes or passing maneuvers to get around slower moving vehicles. That reduces the chance of collision.

Drivers should not be concerned that raising the limit will result in speeds much higher than 65 mph, Mason said. Engineers have found that raising the limit doesn’t increase the average operator’s speed by more than two or three miles per hour. Why is that?

“Studies have shown operator speeds do not increase based on the speed limit as the majority of operators drive at a speed they are comfortable driving regardless of the posted speed,” Mason said.

In conjunction with the change in the speed limit, Georgia DOT has responded to public concerns about the safety of drivers on SR 262 in Climax who cross U.S. 84/SR 38. Maintenance crews extended the lane lines in the median crossover to help motorists on SR 262 judge the distance they have to travel in order to cross the intersection, Mason said. The striping will be complete today.

While the speed limit was raised along the majority of the U.S. 84/SR 38 route, there are isolated areas where it did not change, such as rural to urban area transitions. Pay attention to speed limit signs and drive safely.

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