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One time, on a long, straight, downhill on-ramp to an interstate highway, there was a cop pointing his laser at the cars that were going down the ramp on their way to enter the highway. The speed limit on the highway is 65 mph, while the speed limit on the street that the other end of the ramp is connected to is 35 mph, but no speed is posted on the ramp, however, and the cop seemed to be trying to take advantage of that ambiguity, perhaps trying to punish people for reaching the highway's speed limit too early. So what exactly would the speed limit be on such a ramp?

  • Are you sure he wasn't clocking people on the highway? Cops often do this from on ramps so they are (1) not so easy to see from the highway and (2) able to get onto the highway quickly to pull people over. – phoog Jul 25 '15 at 2:36
  • His laser was pointing straight up the ramp, away from the highway. – Throw Away Account Jul 25 '15 at 9:50
  • He was at the end (bottom) of the ramp? – phoog Jul 25 '15 at 18:17
  • He was closer to the top of the ramp. – Throw Away Account Jul 25 '15 at 23:54
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Typically - in fact - in almost all cases - there are no posted, regulatory speed limits for on- and off- ramps.

This article proved interesting. Specifically,

Those ramp speed signs, black numerals on a yellow field, are advisory only. They have no force of law. The only regulatory speed signs are the black-on-white speed limits posted on the roadway itself.

In other words, if you take a ramp on two wheels, a police officer can ticket you for reckless driving, but if a ramp is posted at 35 mph and you take it at 45 without creating a danger to yourself or others, you can't be ticketed for speeding.

The first signs referred to are signs for the advisory speed limit. They look like this:

From Wikipedia, listed as an example for highway ramps.

. . .

"Why don't they just post those speeds on black-and-white signs, I wonder? Then there would be no doubt."

We wondered, too, so we asked the DOT that very question.

And the answer was, they do it because that's the way it's done all over the country, and the reason it's done all over the country is that ramps are generally considered too short a distance over which to enforce a speed limit.

  • So why would a cop be checking people's speed on a ramp? I know that in Texas the "advisory" speeds are actually enforceable, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that there's some kind of law in Ohio that the cop was trying to exploit. The ramp in question had no speed signs of any color. – Throw Away Account Jul 25 '15 at 0:23
  • Note that even if signs are advisory, most (all?) places have a general speed rule that you can't go faster than is safe and reasonable. – cpast Jul 25 '15 at 0:27
  • Does that mean a cop can pick a maximum "safe and reasonable" speed out of a hat and then enforce it? – Throw Away Account Jul 25 '15 at 0:29
  • @cpast it is entirely possible that the cop was actually clocking people on the highway, and sitting at the top of the ramp so he could easily drive onto the highway in order to pull them over. – phoog Jul 25 '15 at 2:35
  • @phoog Did you mean to reply to the OP? My comment was not a reply to the OP, but rather a reply to the answer. – cpast Jul 25 '15 at 2:44

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