Was I speeding?

I wanted to start this week by saying "thank you" to everyone who emailed me with questions for future topics. I received several questions regarding "speeding" and a specific question relating to school zones. "Speeding" is a broad term and relates to several different statutes, which is why I will be quoting different sections of the California Vehicle Code.

Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code is the statute which describes the "basic speed law." This section basically says it's unlawful for anyone to drive a motor vehicle upon a roadway at a speed that is unsafe considering weather conditions, visibility, traffic, and relative roadway size. For instance, Antelope Boulevard has 40-MPH posted speed limit; however, 40-MPH may not be an appropriate speed in a hailstorm or during heavy rain. Obviously, the ice or water on the roadway will effect a vehicle's ability to stop in an emergency braking situation, which is why rear end collision are more likely to occur in inclement weather.

"Prima Facia Speed" covers a multitude of statutes, which are defined in section 22352 of the California Vehicle Code. This is an important section as it describes a variety of obscure speed laws; such as, the appropriate speed for driving over a railway grade and the 15-MPH speed limit through blind, uncontrolled, intersections. School zones can also be found in this statute. School zones can be confusing, which is why I am going to preface this next paragraph by saying children are not always aware of danger; so please, drive slower in areas where children are present or can be present.

When approaching or passing a school building or any school grounds there should be warning signs alerting motorists to reduce their speed when children are present. This is another "Prima Facia" type speed law and requires motorists to drive 25-MPH or less while children are going to school, attending school and leaving school. This same law applies to a school that is "in use" by children and does not specify the time of day. Basically, if there are children present and the 25 MPH school zone signs are posted, motorists must adhere to the posted 25 MPH speed limit.

I was only going 30-MPH, that's not too fast for a school zone is it? This is a common question among motorists; therefore, let's take a closer look and apply some mathematical formulas to that question. A vehicle that is traveling at 30 MPH will travel approximately 44 feet per second (FPS). The average person's perception time is roughly 3/4 of a second and the average person's reaction time is also about 3/4 of a second. This means it takes the average motorist 1.5 seconds from the time they perceive a danger and react. So, at 30-MPH a motorist will travel about 66-feet in 1.5 seconds, which doesn’t include "stopping distance." For all you baseball fans that is 5 1/2 feet further than the distance between the pitchers' mound and home plate. For the softball fans, that's 6-feet further than the distance between home and first base.

These figures are based on a vehicle traveling at 30-MPH and doesn’t not include stopping distance, which can vary depending on weather conditions, the surface of a roadway, and even a vehicle's tires. The 66 feet is from the time a driver sees a dog, ball, or child come into the path of their vehicle and reacts by either evasive action or braking.

Always remember, when your speed increases, so does your stopping distance; therefore, even if you're driving in residential area or a school zone, drive at a speed that is reasonable and safe for conditions. Most of the traffic collision I have personally investigated that have resulted in great bodily injury or death occurred when vehicles were traveling at 35 MPH or less.

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