California's basic speed law is governed by California Vehicle Code section 22350. What most people don't know is that the speed limit has little to do with the basic speed law.
Here is the text of Vehicle Code section 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."
The speed law essentially states one should not drive more than what is "reasonable" or "prudent" given the circumstances. Of course, driving above the posted speed limit is not a wise decision just because you think it's reasonable. However, if you cause an accident while driving, the fact you were driving the speed limit is not a defense, especially if circumstances were such that even the speed limit was too fast. Therefore, if you see all traffic coming to a stop, you can't simply drive 35 mph and hit a little kid crossing the street. The reasonable thing to do would be to slow down and perhaps come to a stop. Driving the speed limit in that situation is not a defense, even though the posted speed limit might indeed be 35 mph at that location.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,