Driving faster than the posted speed limit increases the risk of serious injury or death for you and those around you in the event of an accident. It can also earn you a citation from law enforcement. However, not all roads have speed limits posted. What does that mean? Can you drive as fast as you want?
The short answer is no. According to the Federal Highway Administration, just because there are no speed limits posted does not mean they do not exist. There are several factors that affect how fast you can go.
Statutory speed limits
Lawmakers in every state set statutory speed limits on different types of roads, such as interstates, rural highways and residential areas. Individual communities have the authority to either abide by these limits or post their own, which may be different. Posted speed limits take precedence over statutory speed limits. However, statutory limits apply where no posted speed limits exist and are enforceable by law.
Sometimes hazardous road conditions exist, making it more prudent and responsible to drive below the speed limit. Examples of such conditions include inclement weather or road construction. Sometimes the appropriate authority will post temporary signs informing you of a new temporary speed limit while the hazardous condition is present. These variable speed limits take precedence over both statutory and posted speed limits.
However, if law enforcement decides that your speed was inappropriate for conditions, it has the authority to issue you a citation even if you were traveling below the speed limit. Therefore, driving too fast can get you in trouble even if there are no speed limits posted.