Law enforcement reported that excessive speed caused a fatal auto accident that killed a Rutherford County father in March of this year. According to an article in the Daily News Journal, the responsible driver was traveling at a high rate of speed in the 45-mph zone when he hit the family pulling out of their driveway. 

Review the speeding laws in Tennessee to drive safely and prevent a serious collision. 

Statutory maximum speed limits 

The state sets speed limits that apply to different types of roads as follows: 

  • 70 miles per hour for interstate highways and controlled-access highways 
  • 65 mph for public roads 
  • 55 mph on nonaccess-controlled highways 
  • 20 to 35 mph for school zones depending on the placement of crosswalks 

Cities and towns can set lower maximum speeds for their roads, but may not exceed these limits. Keep in mind that these numbers represent the maximum safe speeds for the roads in question. Drivers should reduce their speed when necessary because of heavy traffic, inclement weather or other factors. 

Variants to statutory limits 

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reduces the highway speed limit to 50 mph in foggy conditions. It may also establish advisory speed limits in certain areas. For example, a road with a sharp curve may have a sign before the hazardous section that alerts drivers to a lower speed limit. In addition, lower speed limits apply in work zones, school zones and other areas that see significant pedestrian traffic. 

Guidance for drivers 

When you do not see a posted speed limit in Tennessee, the default speed limit is 55 mph. Although you can drive slower than the posted maximum speed, you can receive a ticket for traveling more than 10 mph below the maximum speed unless inclement weather conditions apply. In school zones, the maximum speed limit is 15 mph unless otherwise posted. 

According to data from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, excessive speed has caused hundreds of fatalities in Tennessee over the past decade. Prevent serious auto accidents by adhering to the state’s speed limit laws.