Speed: A critical factor in many car and motorcycle accidents in California – Based upon any number of studies done throughout the years, speed is always a critical factor in many auto accidents especially car accidents in California where the majority of vehicle traffic is on freeways. According to the National Safety Council, speed is the third leading cause of traffic accidents nationwide and traveling at an excessive speed is a factor in one and three fatal accidents in the U.S. The United States Department of Transportation studies also corroborate these findings. Their numbers indicate that the vast majority of accidents especially multi-vehicle accidents occur on state highways where speed limits are 55 miles per hour or more.
Why Are Urban Freeway Conditions So Ripe For Speed Related Accidents
This really just comes down to basic physics and human nature. Concepts like inertia (objects in motion tend to stay in motion) and the fact that speeding leads to other dangerous driving habits like tailgating and can be indicative of serious driver error issues like inattentiveness all come into play. The bottom line is that the margin for error is much tighter at higher rates of speed. Most freeways are state highways with speed limits ranging from 45 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour. Freeways are a great source of freedom to move from one urban area to another in large cities and suburbs like Los Angeles, San Diego and the Inland Empire but, with this freedom comes responsibility.
What Does the California Vehicle Code Require For These Traffic Situations?
California Vehicle Code §22350 entitled “Basic Speed Law” requires that, no matter what the posted speed limit is a motor vehicle must travel at a “reasonable” speed taking into account all factors including traffic, weather, visibility and road conditions. This really just comes down to using common sense. Even if you are allowed to go 65 miles per hour, you shouldn’t do so if there is heavy traffic volume ahead of you and behind you, the roads are wet from rain or there are any number of other factors that would tell a reasonable driver to slow to a lower speed.
As summarized nicely by California case law, “The so-called basic speed law is primarily a regulation of the conduct of the operators of vehicles. They are bound to know the conditions which dictate the speeds at which they can drive with a reasonable degree of safety. They know, or should know, their cars and their own ability to handle them, and especially their ability to come to a stop at different speeds and under different conditions of the surface of the highway.” (Wilding v. Norton (1957) 156 Cal.App.2d 374, 379 [319 P.2d 440].)
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers and Their Experts Evaluate Speed As A Factor in Collisions?
Most state highway accidents are investigate by the California Highway Patrol. The investigating officers complete a CHP Standard Traffic Collision Report. While this report is not admissible in court, it does provide extremely valuable information about the incident. If the officer feels speed was either a primary or associated collision factor, it will be noted on page two of this report. The attorney and their accident reconstruction expert can also examine photographs of the scene and of the involved vehicles (paying close attention to vehicle damage and location), inspect and photograph the scene themselves, take depositions and statements from witnesses and conduct other types of information gathering. The injury lawyers and their experts then make their own assessment independent of any conclusions in the accident report as to whether traveling at an excessive speed for roadway conditions was a legal cause of the traffic incident and whether this constitutes negligence for which one or more drivers should be held financially responsible.
For more information on the basics of car accident claims in California (click here).
For more information on the basics of a motorcycle claim in California (click here).
Steven M. Sweat, APC
Car Accident and Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles and Southern California
11500 W Olympic Blvd #488
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (866) 966-5240
National Safety Council: Safety on the Road: Driver Safety: Speeding
U.S. Dept. of Transportation: Table Showing Car Accidents by Road Type in the U.S.