Electronic variable speed limit signs are now in operation along a segment of Interstate 90 in northeastern Wyoming.

The signs, installed near Piney Creek between Sheridan and Buffalo, will allow officials to reduce the speed limit in increments of five miles per hour to as low as 30 mph when necessary due to inclement weather. That stretch of I-90 is known for severe wind and surface conditions, WYDOT says.

"This is really going to help the traveling public and our maintenance crews in that area," said Rich Hall, area maintenance crew supervisor for Sheridan and Johnson Counties, in a WYDOT news release. "Reducing speeds will help tremendously in preventing road closures due to crashes that can be avoided if drivers just slow down for conditions."

It's the first section of I-90 in Wyoming to have the variable speed limit technology. In the future, officials plan to have the variable speed limits on two additional sections: from the Montana State Line to Sheridan, and on a stretch near Sundance.

WYDOT says long-term statistics show unsafe speed plays a role in over 70 percent of winter crashes in Wyoming. In response, WYDOT uses the variable speed limits as well as an information campaign with the slogan, "Ice and Snow? -- Take it Slow!"

The winter of 2008-2009 saw the first variable speed limit signs in Wyoming installed along I-80. Statistics from the first two winters in which the variable signs were used reportedly showed fewer crashes and road closures, so WYDOT expanded its use of the variable speed limits.

Locations of the variable speed limit signs are based upon traffic volumes, crash histories and frequency of severe weather.

In addition to the new signs on I-90, WYDOT also installed five more Road Weather Information Sensors and three web cameras.

Those cameras and the latest road conditions across Wyoming can be accessed at WyoRoad.info.