The in basket: Richard Nerf says, “Detours onto unfamiliar roads
during a recent trip to Mt. Rainier reminded me of question that
occasionally surfaces: Given that the default speed limit on a
rural county road is 50 mph, how far must one go past a sign
posting a lower limit before it is legal to speed up to the
default? Is there any official or semi-official word on
The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger, spokesman for the patrol here, says, “Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit remains since the last posted speed. In the case you suggest, the speed limit would remain the lower speed that was last posted until otherwise changed.
“There is nothing in the Revised Code of Washington (that I am aware of) that suggests anything contrary to that.”
State law (RCW 46.61.400) establishes the basic speed rule and maximum limits of 25 mph (city or town), 50 mph (county roads), 60 mph (state highway). It also authorized local governments to modify those limits as long as they don’t go above sixty or below 25 mph, and the state secretary of transportation to go up to 70 mph, as he must of done on the rural interstates. But those are effective only after signs are posted.
I don’t know of any places around here where the default speed would govern in the absence of speed limit signs. I suppose if you find a street, road of highway with no speed limit signs from its beginning to its end, the default speed limits might be governing.
“It is possible to encounter such a roadway where possibly a sign has fallen or been knocked over for whatever reason,” Russ speculated. “I would think a driver would have to get pretty ‘rural’ to encounter that very often in this state.”