VIRGINIA - In a matter of days, the speed limit along a strip of I-95 Northbound in Virginia will begin changing depending on the flow of traffic.
Starting next Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin using variable speed limit signs along a 15-mile stretch of the highway in Caroline and Spotsylvania Counties.
There are 48 of these signs set up almost every half mile between Ladysmith and Fredericksburg. The signs are only being used in the northbound lanes of the highway, which head towards D.C.
The signs will work by using detectors to collect traffic, speed, and volume data in real-time. Depending on the flow of traffic, the speed limit will change meaning when traffic is flowing posted speeds will be higher, but when congestion builds up, posted speeds could be dropped to as low as 35 mile per hour.
VDOT officials tell FOX 5 the idea is that changing speed limits will slow drivers and prevent congestion related crashes.
"They will remain at 65 to 70 mph when conditions are free flowing but when there is a crash or heavy congestion they will gradually lower by 10 miles an hour to slow drivers down before they hit that congestion and slow that risk to suddenly run into a wall of traffic," said Kelly Hannon, a communication manager for VDOT.
FOX 5 also spoke with drivers, who expressed mixed opinions on the changes.
"It's actually not such a bad idea but hopefully people are paying attention because that is just it. Accidents happen because people aren't paying attention so if it gives you a warning it may prepare people to slow down," said Karen Cardenas.
Another driver FOX 5 spoke with was not pleased about the change.
"A bit of concerned because I don't want a situation where I'm breaking the law and I don't even know it. I rather it stays as it is," they told FOX 5.
In terms of enforcement, the variable speed limit signs will only be used to record traffic data and not take pictures of speeding drivers. But, drivers should remain cautious as Virginia State Police officers will be out along the highway to help enforce speed changes.
Officials said there will be messaging posted along the highway alerting drivers to the changing speed limits.