Those new variable speed limit signs you may have seen on a stretch of U.S. 97 south of Bend will be turned on Monday.
The digital signs are on a 10-mile stretch between Knott Road to just north of La Pine. They will replace the standard speed limit signs along the highway. Some will be over the road.
Seven signs will be posted in both directions of Highway 97. They will be turned on Monday, but won’t be in active use until until November.
The speed limits will be adjusted based on road and weather conditions, said the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“So you will see a digital speed limit displayed and there are weather stations throughout the corridor. And so if the road surface gets covered in snow or it gets slick or visibility goes down, these sensors will tell the speed limit signs to lower the speed,” said ODOT spokesperson Kacey Davey.
Computers will analyze data from several weather stations along the 10-mile stretch, measuring factors like road surface traction, humidity, temperature and visibility, and lower speed limits in poor weather conditions, according to ODOT.
“And it is a regulatory speed. So if you see that the speed goes from 65 to 55 or even lower, that is the actual speed limit. So you will need to slow down. You’re going to have less impact, you’re going to have more stopping distance,” said Davey.
ODOT says more than 40% of the crashes on this section of U.S. 97 involve a driver who was going too fast for conditions.