California Driver Handbook defines speed limit as "The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 mph. You may drive 70 mph where posted. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on a two-lane undivided highway and for vehicles towing trailers."

I assume that the zone starts right after the speed limit sign post. What is not obvious from this definition is where the speed limit zone ends.

Case in point: Highway 101 in Los Angeles urban area generally has a maximum speed limit of 65mph. It has occasional 55mph speed limit signs, such as this one, where 101 approaches Hollywood Blvd from the south. Where is the exact end of this 55mph speed limit zone?

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    What you quoted is the Maximum Speed Law. Other than the exception for 70 mph, that law has nothing to do with posted speed limits. So what you said about 55mph signs on 101 freeway do not have anything to do with that law. There is also the Basic Speed Law, which says you must drive at a safe speed for the conditions; that doesn't have anything necessarily to do with posted speed limits either (driving faster than a "posted" speed limit is not necessarily a violation of the law, and conversely driving slower than the "posted" speed limit could be a violation of the law).
    – user102008
    Feb 14, 2016 at 6:27
  • Satellite navigation software often displays the current speed limit. I think the problem is present worldwide, not just in the US.
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 14, 2016 at 9:13
  • @user102008 I am aware of the Basic Speed Law. It does not justify the exceeding of the speed limit, but this is besides the point. My question was rather about the specific shoulder of the road, affected by the 55mph posted sign. Feb 16, 2016 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


Speed limits are in effect until otherwise posted or noted. So once you enter a 55 MPH zone it stays that way until you see a sign raising it back up to 65 MPH. Unfortunately not every road is properly sign posted, so it is best to assume you are still in the lower speed limit zone until you actually see a sign telling you otherwise. Often in an inner city area, all roads will abide by the lower speed limit noted when entering the city limits, but not all will have speed limit signs.

Some speed zones are named, such as a school zone or safety zone. These reduced speed areas will often only have an "end of school zone" type sign and not a speed limit sign. Here it is presumed that you can return to the previous speed limit you were under when you pass the"End of..." sign.

Unfortunately for visitors to an area, speed limits are not always posted on every road, so one needs to pay attention to the signs you do see and their relationship to civilization, two lane roads in housing areas, neighborhoods often have the lowest speeds 25-35, two lane roads in business areas a bit higher 35-45, four lane roads in the city 50/55, outside the city 65/70. And to compound the issue, each city sets it's speed limits a bit differently :(

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    Thanks. That clarifies it, except, perhaps one point. For at least 8 miles after that point above, there are no signs returning the speed back to 65mph. So anyone entering 101 from any sidestreet past Hollywood Blvd will assume the max speed limit to be 65mph, according to the Basic Speed Law, while anyone staying on 101 from before Hollywood, would still be under the limitation of 55mph. Does not it create a discrepancy or am I wrong in my line of reasoning? Feb 14, 2016 at 3:55
  • @alexei, how is that issue solved in your home country though?
    – JonathanReez
    Feb 14, 2016 at 9:27
  • @AlexeiDanchenkov - locals will know, so that eliminates the majority of people from the quandry (plus I imagine very few of them recall the state laws you quoted, so drive based on their experience as to which roads are slower not the letter of the law). It is primarily visitors who may err. But if you get caught, don't quote the law, rather say sorry I haven't seen a speed limit sign.
    – user13044
    Feb 14, 2016 at 9:50
  • @Tom Thanks and that I have confirmed from the locals. They assume the speed limit to be 55mph, no matter which road you come from. So I'd drive that to be safe. Feb 14, 2016 at 19:33
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    @JonathanReez Speed limit sign in Russia is only valid until the next crossroad. Unless there is a sign posted after the crossroad, speed limit is default for the road (which is 60 km/h in urban zones, 90km/h in rural zones). Traffic rules explicitly define +10km/h for error margin, so one would not get a ticket if a radar shows 70km/h on the road with 60km/h speed limit). Feb 16, 2016 at 19:30

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