The speed limit on U.S. Route 71 just north of the Grandview Triangle increases this week to 65 miles per hour.
Currently, the posted speed limit from a half mile south of 75th Street to 3-Trails Crossing is 55, but most drivers tend to go faster, says Derek Olson, a district traffic engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“If you set the speed limit near where the majority of the drivers are traveling, you’ll have a safer experience. Your risk of getting in a crash is lower,” Olson says.
Olson says large variances in speed in a traffic flow can encourage more aggressive driving behavior, such as weaving and tailgating.
Road crews will update the speed limit signs on Wednesday, weather permitting.
“It’s got medians, safety guard cable, it’s got wide shoulders,” Olson says. “The road functions basically like an interstate.”
Olson isn’t worried increasing the speed limit will lead to drivers traveling even faster than 65.
“I always like to tell people if we posted the interstate 25 miles per hour, you probably wouldn’t drive 30. You would drive your normal 65 to 70,” Olson says.
“The same way if we posted the speed limit 100 miles per hour. You wouldn’t drive 105. Of course not. You’re going to drive a speed that’s comfortable for the conditions. Most people are reasonable.”
Near 75th Street, the speed limit decreases to 55 miles per hour and then to 45 miles per hour as drivers enter the urban core.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.