Just what makes some speed limit signs illegal?

Many cities and towns take a do-it-yourself shortcut, and arbitrarily post whatever speed limit signs they please. In fact, speed limit signs like these are actually illegal and unenforceable.

Reasonable and legal speed limits are designed by traffic engineers, and based on the fact that the majority of motorists are prudent and capable of selecting safe speeds.

The problem is, legit speed limits signs look the same as phony ones. You simply can’t tell them apart just by looking at them. Only the cities and towns know, and they’re not talking.

The police aren’t talking either. It just so happens that speed limit signs (legit or phony) make their job a lot easier, because without them they can’t prove someone was speeding with just instantaneous radar or laser readings. Instead, the Speeding law requires them to clock the cars speeding in excess of an unposted limit, e.g., 40 mph, over a measured distance, e.g., ¼ mile.

This problem’s even worse because illegal speed limit signs are usually set way too low. It turns out that drivers generally don’t notice speed limit signs, but most are prudent enough and simply drive a reasonable speed based upon the type of road, traffic and road conditions. In fact, this has been the fundamental speed limit law in Massachusetts for over 100 years.

By contrast, unreasonably low speed limits drive law-abiding motorists crazy, and give rise to road-rage and traffic scofflaws, either speeding or tailgating. The unsuspecting motorists are caught in speed traps, and conned into paying bogus fines and unnecessary insurance surcharges.

MassDOT is supposed to regulate the cities and towns, but they gave up almost 30 years ago. Since then, illegal speed limit signs have sprung up like weeds all across Massachusetts. What is more, MassDOT splits any speeding fines 50/50 with the cities and towns. So the beat goes on.

Tens of thousands of unsuspecting drivers have been slapped with bogus tickets, and no one has ever sued the cities and towns to put an end to this widespread hoax. That is, until now. If motorists win their pending class action suit, the bogus speeding tickets will be vacated, both the fines and insurance surcharges will be refunded, the phony signs will be taken down, and will never again be allowed as evidence in court to dupe unsuspecting motorists into paying a fine.

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