The Meaning of California Basic Speed Law
The basic speed law in California says your speed must be reasonable or prudent with due regard to:
- Traffic on the highway
- Surface of the highway
- Width of the highway
At no time are you allowed to drive at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.
Driving too Fast for Conditions is a Traffic Violation
The basic speed law overrides posted speed limits or speed limits set by law or local ordinances. Even if you are driving 55 mph where the posted speed limit is 65 mph, you may be stopped and charged with driving too fast for conditions.
Things to Consider When You Choose Your Speed
Always obey the posted speed limits.
In addition to the posted speed limit, you must adjust your speed with respect to:
- The speed of traffic around you. Try to go with the flow of traffic. If others are slowing down, you should also slow down.
- The number of other vehicles on the road. In congested traffic, accidents are more likely to happen.
- Surface of the road. When to road is slick, adjust your speed accordingly. On a wet road you should reduce your speed about 10 mph. On packed snow you should cut your speed in half. On ice, you must slow to a crawl. Rough or gravel surfaces can also increase the risk of skidding.
- Width and type of road. Slow down on narrow roads, winding roads, before entering a sharp curve, and when approaching the crest of a hill.
- Visibility. Always make sure you can stop within the distance you can see ahead. When you cannot see the road clearly because of rain, fog, snow, dust, or smoke, you must slow down.
- Strong winds. Wind gusts can be a hazard while driving, especially to larger vehicles.
- Bicyclists or pedestrians on or crossing the roadway. Be especially careful when children are nearby, in school zones, and close to playgrounds.
- Horses or horse-drawn vehicles. Always slow down when you approach horses or other animals on the road.
Some Examples of DMV Questions
What is the basic law for driving speed?
A. Always drive the posted speed limit.
B. Always drive at a speed that is safe for current conditions.
C. Drive 5-10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit just to be safe.
D. Drive at the same speed as those around you
California’s Basic Speed Law says you must:
A. Never driver faster than is safe for current conditions.
B. Always keep your speed close to that of other traffic.
C. Stay in right lane when driving on multi-lane highways.
D. Not exceed the posted speed limit with more than 10 mph.
California Vehicle Code (V.C. 22350)
No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.