To many drivers, speeding is a violation of the posted speed limit. However, this is a narrow definition and isn’t always technically correct. The posted speed limit applies to good driving conditions. For less ideal conditions you must follow California’s basic speed law that states you can’t drive faster than is safe for the current driving conditions. This means you will have to exercise your judgment to determine the safe speed.
However, the police can cite you for violating the basic speed law if your speed is too fast according to their judgment. If you get into a car accident and excessive speed for the conditions is a factor, this could place you at fault and make you liable for damages in a civil lawsuit.
Specifics about what constitutes poor driving conditions include:
The Condition of the Road
A slippery road surface reduces traction, which reduces your ability to brake and steer. Although a wet road surface doesn’t seem slippery when driving, it can degrade your ability to make emergency maneuvers such as swerving and hard braking. Potholes, damaged pavement, mud from a recent storm, or leftover gravel from a recent road construction also require that you reduce your speed.
Visibility is affected by fog, rain, snow flakes, smoke, and blowing dust. The main danger with poor visibility is overdriving your ability to see what’s ahead. If you can only see twenty feet ahead but the braking distance for your speed is fifty feet, then braking for anything you see that is blocking your way is impossible. Another difficulty with poor visibility is that it affects your judgment of speed and distances. In particular, it causes you to underestimate your speed.
The Road Is Congested
When you encounter road congestion with slow traffic, or there are lots of traffic pulling into the road from side roads, you must adjust your speed to accommodate this safely. You must also slow down when there are pedestrians or bicyclists moving on the edge of the road. This is common when school buses pick up and drop off children. Driving the posted speed limit in this circumstance is both speeding and endangering to the children.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident by a reckless or negligent driver, contact us at Hogan Injury for legal help.