Why Does This New Jersey Zoo Have Such a Bizarre Speed Limit?

Speed limits are a part of daily life here in America, even if we have supercars capable of hitting three to four times our highest speed limits. We are used to seeing fairly standard speed limits, like 40, 55, and 70 mph. However, in this New Jersey zoo, there is a very bizarre and specific posted speed limit. Not only is it incredibly slow, but it is also incredibly specific. Why would they post such a hard-to-follow speed limit? 

What is the weirdest speed limit in America? 

According to CarScoops, speed limits are usually calculated based on the conditions and use of a specific road. They are also usually in 5 mph increments. Between these two norms – especially the second one – this speed limit at the Cape May County Zoo in Cape May, New Jersey sticks out like more of a gag sign from the defunct Spencer’s Gifts than it does a legally enforceable road sign. 

A video recently released by a woman on YouTube shows her confusion with the posted 9.5 mph limit sign. Although it may look like a joke, it is, in fact, a legal speed advisory sign and even kind of makes sense. 

This New Jersey zoo speed limit sign is actually pretty clever

9.5 mph speed limit signs must represent the most bizarre speed limits in the US
9.5 mph sign in NJ | Viral Hog via YouTube

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At first glance, this speed limit sign might seem silly or even downright annoying. However, a transportation engineer named Vignesh Swaminathan came across the video and decided to explain it to the rest of us on his Tik Tok as Mr. Barricade. 

Swaminathan suggests that the bizarre speed limit sign is most likely on a low-volume road without a centerline. He goes on to say that these types of roads often see more speeding because the lack of a centerline makes drivers perceive the road as wider. 

Certainly going 10 mph isn’t any less safe than going 9.5? Of course, it’s not. But, the sign is attention-grabbing because of how much it sticks out for being so specific and odd-numbered. Swaminathan says a bizarre speed limit sign like this will not only get people’s attention, but they will also be more likely to adhere to the limit because that 9.5 mph will stick in their brains. 

It is truly a genius tactic to raise awareness for that specific speed and urge drivers to stay within the posted limit. Let’s be honest, how many people would see that sign and make it a goal to try and hit 9.5 mph? Well, at least those of us who still have an analog speedometer. 

Is driving slower actually safer? 

Obviously, at this New Jersey zoo, there is no argument to be made for driving much faster than 10 mph. However, there seem to be varying beliefs surrounding this question, in general. While driving fast varies depending on context and the vehicle you are driving, the higher the speed, the easier it is to lose control. Also, the faster the speed, the higher the chance of a small problem like a flat tire or hitting road debris, which can turn into a major problem. 

Safe driving speeds truly depend on the vehicle, the condition of the road, the skill of the driver, and the number of other drivers on the road. The truth is too many drivers think they are more skilled than they truly are, and too few drivers care to learn how to develop the necessary skills to keep them safe on the road. 

It is for these reasons that speed limits are often slower than an individual needs to drive safely. We share the roads with all sorts of drivers and all sorts of vehicles, meaning we all need to bend to safer median speeds. Regardless of most speed limits, few will likely miss the 9.5 mph sign at the Cape May County Zoo in Cape May, New Jersey.