They're called Variable Speed Limits and they'll begin to show up soon on at least one stretch of Michigan freeways. The advisory speed limits will appear on I-94 between Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor in Southwest Michigan. Interestingly, they'll not be chosen by humans but rather by artificial intelligence.

Considering that this stretch of I-94 has been proven to be the worst winter roadway in the state, the variable speed limits are being applied in the right place.

How Variable Advisory Speed Limits Work

When conditions warrant, overhead signs (similar to the ones pictured at the top of the article which have been in place for several years nearby on the Indiana Toll Road) will suggest a new speed limit.

A Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson, speaking with MLive, says that an algorithm (read A.I.) will monitor roadway conditions like temperature, precipitation and visibility.

Highway Message Board - I-94 Near Coloma
Google Maps Street View

Based on those conditions the signs will flash an advisory speed limit. So if the standard speed limit on I-94 through this stretch is 70 miles per hour, the signs may flash an advisory speed lower based on what's happening at any given time.

Highway Message Board - I-94 Near Kalamazoo
Google Maps Street View

Advisory Speed Limits Are Not Legally Enforceable

Even if the overhead signs flash speed limits below the standard signed limit, the advisory is just that - an advisory. As MLive reports.

They are not enforceable as speed limits, he said. Still, law enforcement can cite drivers for “driving too fast for conditions,” regardless of what number is on a speed limit sign.

A displayed advisory speed is meant as a safety suggestion for motorists, Schirripa said.

There will be 14 of these signs with the first/last near Coloma on one end and just west of the Oshtemo exit.

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