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​Winter Driving - Avoid a Speeding Ticket

very winter at the collision repair center I talk to drivers that received a speeding ticket after they had a collision. During the course of writing the repair estimate, the driver will often explain what happened leading to the accident. Then they will describe the ticket they received. “I was driving at the posted speed limit and the cop cited me for 20 (MPH) over the [safe] speed limit. I’ll fight this in court,” they say. I have heard this so many times in my decades in the collision repair business I have come to believe the average driver assumes the posted speed limit is [always] the safe speed.

The State of California Vehicle Code. Basic speed law. Section 22350
No person may 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.

To make this clearer: This applies to all roadways, even those with posted speed limits. The maximum speed limit (safe speed) may be considerably lower than the posted speed limit, depending on the conditions of the weather and roadway.

Often, a driver will say their vehicle is designed or altered to be safe under extreme conditions. It has a lift kit, or oversize wheels and tires, or racing suspension and heavy duty brakes. I am amazed when I hear this because it is so blatantly inconsiderate of the other drivers on the road.

Vehicle in puddle of water, stock photo

Other drivers have the additional hazard this driver is creating, in addition to the already dangerous conditions.

The driver was driving at what he considers a safe speed, His vehicle was designed for extreme driving conditions and he defends his actions. This begs the question. “If it’s so safe, why did you get in a collision?” The answer usually is, it was the other drivers fault.

Causing dangerous driving conditions for other drivers Is a violation of the Basic Speed law.

Case in point: An incident occurred in Southern California. It involved an altered pickup truck, designed for off-road use, but still street legal. It had a raised body, huge wheels and tires. The other vehicle was a police motorcycle. Southern California often has heavy rain that can come from nowhere, resulting in flooded streets. The motor officer tried to make it back to the station by going from gas station to gas station. Stopping under the cover at the pumps and then proceeding to the next station every time the rain let up. As he got within a couple of blocks of the station, the rain had stopped. But now the water in the street was like a lake, over a foot deep and several blocks long. Traffic had slowed to about 3-5 MPH.

The officer stopped at the edge of the “lake” near the shoulder. It was at this time he observed the altered pickup truck passing traffic at a much higher speed than traffic was moving. The speed limit was posted at 40MPH. Traffic was moving 3-5 MPH. As the truck passed the line of slowly moving vehicles, the spray from the truck looked like it was created by a speed boat. It drenched the vehicles it passed; water spray swamping the roofs, windows and windshields of the nearby vehicles. Suddenly, startled drivers veered to the right and into deeper water. It appeared some may have bumped into each other as the line of cars, 2 blocks long, abruptly came to a stop.

At this time, the truck exited the “lake” and drove past the motor officer parked on the side of the road. The diluge of water drenched the officer completely, soaking him and the motorcycle. The officer went in pursuit and pulled the truck over. The first thing the driver said was, “I was going the speed limit.” He was adamant that he was following the law…he got a ticket for 35MPH over a safe speed, determined by traffic flow as 5 MPH.

The driver challenged the ticket in court. The judge advised him he was lucky the officer did not cite him for reckless driving.

Recreation vehicles are fun to drive off-road and at speeds higher than is often prudent. As we get further into winter, many people cannot wait to try their off-road toys, but public streets are not the place. Remember, your vehicle may be designed to drive faster and in more severe weather and road conditions than a standard vehicle, but that does not permit you to endanger the safety of other persons or property on the roadway. Of course, the same code section applies to roadway snow and ice conditions.

Coachmaster Collision repair*-- founded in1969 is a full service automotive collision repair center, also an approved repair station for boat hull repair and RV’s. Contact Allan Gordon for an estimate. We can be reached at 530-243-1310 or at the business at 6851 Eastside Road, Redding CA. *click here if you are using a smart phone.

More columns by Don Stec

 

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