Safer Speeds

Safer Speeds is one of the five pillars of the Safe System Approach, which prioritizes safety and human vulnerability in the design and operation of a transportation system. Speeding increases both the frequency and severity of crashes and is a significant contributor to traffic deaths. Speeding is particularly hazardous to pedestrians. A pedestrian's chance of survival is directly correlated with a vehicle's speed at time of impact. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding-related crashes accounted for 28% of fatalities in the U.S. between 2011-2020.

US DOT Safe System Approach Infographic
Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Louisville are regulated by Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances (see § 71.86 Speed Regulations and § 71.87 Exceptions to Speed Regulations). As a general rule, the default speed limit is 25 MPH, including Downtown, and the default speed limit for "county through roads" is 35 MPH. Speed limits may be changed by the roadway owner under certain circumstances. Road ownership varies in Louisville. A road may be owned by the state through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, by the city (Louisville Metro Government), by home rule cities (such as Jeffersontown, Shively, or St. Matthews), or by private ownership.

Louisville Metro Government owns and maintains over 2,100 miles of road throughout Jefferson County. In 2023, Louisville Metro Public Works conducted speed studies for Metro-owned roads with speed limits greater than 35 MPH (a total of seven streets). Not surprisingly, recorded speeds often greatly exceeded the posted speed limit. This proved the need for a Speed Management Plan, which includes identifying desired and actual speeds, roadway functional classification (such as Arterial, Collector, or Local), roadway design and geometry, crash history, traffic volume, and surrounding land uses.

Below is a map of speed limits in Louisville.

 


Automated Enforcement

Automated enforcement is achieved through speed safety cameras and red light cameras. While implementation strategies for these cameras vary widely, automated enforcement is proven to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes. Speed safety cameras have been named a “Proven Safety Countermeasure” by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This form of automated enforcement is an effective, reliable technology to supplement traditional methods of enforcement, engineering measures, and education to alter the social norms of speeding.

Currently under state law, the use of automated enforcement is prohibited in Kentucky. However, a coalition of legislators, transportation safety advocates, and transportation officials in Kentucky are working to change that, aiming to join over 20 other states that utilize red light cameras, speed safety cameras, or both.

In March 2022, Louisville Metro Council passed a resolution supporting state legislation that enables the use of automated enforcement.

Visit our Automated Enforcement page for more information.


Resources

Safe System Approach for Speed Management (FHWA publication, May 2023)

City Limits: Setting Safe Speed Limits on Urban Streets (NACTO publication)

Federal Highway Administration's Speed Management Resources

Vision Zero Network's Speed Management Resources

 

Last updated: June 7, 2023

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