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25 in Boston

Effective January 9, 2017, Boston’s default speed limit is 25 mph. 

We worked with the Mayor, the Transportation Commissioner, and the City Council to lower the default speed limit in the City of Boston from 30 mph to 25 mph.
Reducing the default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph helps make the City safer for people of all ages and abilities who are walking, driving, and bicycling on our streets. The new, lower speed limit is an early accomplishment for Vision Zero, the Mayor’s commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Data show when you’re driving at or below 25 mph, you are less likely to be severely injured or killed in a traffic crash.

Get involved

Here are a few ways that you can help spread the word about the speed limit change:

You can also use the Vision Zero Input map and BOS:311 to help us continue to make Boston a safer place for everyone. Use the map to tell us about where you have safety concerns. Use BOS:311 to report routine maintenance requests, such as crosswalks or stop lines that need to be repainted.

Why we're making the change

Reaching our goal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries will require everyone - drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike -  to work together. Legislative efforts, like lowering the speed limit, combined with enhanced street design, education and enforcement policies work together to create a street system and standard of behavior that dramatically reduces the consequences of everyday mistakes. Mistakes can and will happen, but they should not be deadly or lead to serious, life-altering injury.

When drivers are going 25 mph, drivers and pedestrians have more time to see each other and react. This small 5 mph decrease in speed means that many crashes can be avoided altogether. If a crash happens, it’s less likely to cause serious injury or death.

The graphic below shows the likelihood of fatal or severe injury for pedestrians struck by drivers traveling at various speeds. If you only consider fatal crashes, pedestrians have a 20% chance of being killed by a driver traveling at 30 mph. There’s a 12% chance of a pedestrian being killed by a driver traveling at 25 mph.1


Image for fatalorsevereinjurygraphic 01

Likelihood of fatal or severe injury for pedestrians struck by drivers traveling at these speeds.1

This new law is just one aspect of the Mayor’s Vision Zero Action Plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries. The plan sets out a robust platform of policies, street design, and education to reduce traffic fatalities in Boston. You can learn more about Vision Zero.

Boston’s 25 mph default speed limit is on par with other major U.S. and international cities that have made it a priority to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on their streets. Some of these cities include New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Berlin, and Tokyo.

The new speed limit won’t have an impact on your ability to get around efficiently in Boston. Vehicle speed is primarily determined by factors like traffic congestion, double-parked vehicles, turning vehicles, and traffic signals.

The lower speed limit also will not impact speeds during the most congested times of day. Many drivers are already traveling at speeds below 25 mph during these times.

What we're doing

As of January 9, 2017, the 25 mph default citywide speed limit will take effect on all streets where there is no posted speed limit.

If you don’t see a posted sign, the speed limit is 25 mph.

We’re currently working to inform people of the new default speed limit through a widespread public outreach campaign. Additionally, old 30 mph signs will be replaced, and we will post new 25 mph speed limit signs across the City.

We will continue to sign some streets for speeds less than 25 mph. This includes school and safety zones, and areas where there are traffic calming measures in place.

We will also continue to sign some larger streets — such as limited access highways or major arterial streets — at 30 mph or higher. Since these types of roads are meant to serve people traveling at higher speeds, we will study these locations before dropping the speed limit.

Keep in mind: This change only affects roads the City owns. Please pay attention to posted signs on state-owned roads.

Fines for speeding

Compliance will be our main measure of success, and we hope that everyone chooses to drive at safe speeds. However, the Boston Police Department is committed to achieving Vision Zero and will use enforcement to deter violations.

The penalty for violating the speed limit will not change. The fine for exceeding the speed limit in Massachusetts is $105. If you drive more than 10 mph over the speed limit, you have to also pay $10 for each mile per hour that you are over.

Drivers may get additional penalties depending on the severity of the ticket and the person’s driving history. Drivers also get points on their license for speeding.


Sources: Tefft, Brian C. Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington DC, September, 2011

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