Let’s talk about speed

Most people think of speeding as exceeding the posted speed limit. While that is technically correct, there is more to it than that. Let me ask you a question. What is the “safe speed” for driving while reading the paper? What about while watching a movie on your inappropriately and illegally placed GPS/DVD player? Ladies, how about while your slappin’ on the war paint?

Here’s the CA vehicle code section:

Basic Speed Law

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.

Nowhere in the section does it mention divided attention or other distracting habits most of us participate in while we’re driving. I contend, however, it is implicit…not to mention, common sense (a concept well documented to be lacking). Common sense should tell you that reading the paper while you’re driving is inherently unsafe. I would say the safe speed for all of the above listed activities is zero.

If you’re scooting along at 35 mph and the speed limit is 35 mph and you are doing any of the above, you are speeding. Your speed is neither reasonable nor prudent. Don’t be surprised when I stop you and tell you that very thing.

Oh…and if you pitch a fit? Yeah…get ready to explain yourself in court.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

8 thoughts on “Let’s talk about speed

  1. Does this apply to the construction trucks blowing down the interstate in hopes they all beat each other to work? Hate to break their hearts…no one is getting a BJ as a prize for being first to work. Because, well…your first and no one is there. Ergo – no prize.

  2. At 3am on a secondary highway, I think would be prudent to go faster than posted. 25mph with no one in sight…I'd go faster. What do you think?

  3. War paint. Ha! I like that. In high school, neighbor would pick me up in the morning and paint her nails on our way to school.

    Being a runner, I try to avoid all distractions while driving because I see all kinds of misbehaving behind the wheel as a pedestrian.

  4. Canoehead…

    At nite with limited visibility and you want to go faster?

    Um…no. Mostly because if you crash and die at that time of nite, I'll get a phone call soon thereafter and I won't get my beauty rest.

    I needs me beauty rest, pal.

  5. MC, is there any particular reason why you didn't mention VC22351(b) and its implications for drivers in CA in this post? :))

  6. True story:

    I've only called 911 on DUI drivers 3 times in my life (and I'm old, as in as ancient as MC old.) The 3rd one was on the way to work one morning last month.

    There was an SUV in the fast lane doing 70. In my part of the state, that is a no-no. The de facto speed limit is 75. Its not legal, but its real. Somebody going slower then that is either ignorant or some kind of asshole that wants to piss everybody else off. Its real- deal with it.

    If you do not want to drive above the limit on an interstate where the flow of traffic is above the limit, you have my admiration- but get in the slow lane. Making violators go around you on the right is dangerous. You know this instinctively, unless you are stupid.

    Anyway, the SUV is going too slow as I approach at my usual (violating) speed. The car in front of me tailgated the SUV for a few miles (SO dumb. Don't ever do that. MC will fill you in on the details.) Finally, the guy in front of me gets fed up and bolts around the SUV to the right.

    So now I'm behind this nimrod, and I notice that the SUV is swerving, and that the rear-view mirror is askew. I back off to see what's going on. The SUV is displaying some classic signs of DUI- swerving, not holding a fairly constant speed, and clearly not aware of other drivers.

    I see bad driving all the time- we all do (and we are all guilty of driving poorly sometimes.) That's why I followed for a few miles to make sure I didn't happen to catch the SUV driver at the one moment that the he or she was fiddling with the radio. In this case, the bad driving continued for several minutes. The vehicle's tires crossed over both the fog line on the left and the lane line on the right several times. I was convinced that the driver was actually impaired, and not just a dummy that made a mistake.

    I called 911, and dimed the driver out. I followed the SUV (since it was going the same way I was) and made several updates. Then a weird thing happened- the SUV got off at the same exit I did and pulled into the courthouse parking lot.

    I pulled up next to the vehicle, and looked inside. It was a public defender, putting on her damn makeup. She weaved down the freeway for about 10 miles, pissing off every other driver and looking just like a drunk, because she was too dumb to just drive in the slow lane (or, better yet, put that crap on before she left the house.)

    I swear that this story is true. Seriously.

    The moral? Distracted driving is as dangerous as DUI. The legal penalties are not as severe, but the real-life consequences can be devastating. The idiot in this (TOTALLY TRUE) anecdote didn't kill anybody or set in motion a chain of events that cost somebody their life, but thats just luck and probability.

    If a school bus would have suddenly crossed in front of her, she would have hit it and possibly killed a bunch of people. It was selfish and dangerous.

    I believe that most people can have a conversation on a Bluetooth while occasionally fiddling with the radio on a clear day without endangering others. Some experienced drivers are probably totally safe chatting on a cell pressed to their ear while eating a burrito, it they are on a lone stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere. But some people are incapable of doing ANYTHING while driving other than watching the road and focusing completely. It is incumbent upon every driver to know what their skill level is and adjust it accordingly to conditions. And simply obeying the law (not speeding, staying in your lane, etc.) goes a long way toward ensuring your own safety and the safety of others.

    Remember, a car is a deadly weapon. When you operate it carelessly, you might as well be playing with a loaded gun.


  7. For canoehead:

    A friend of mine had just obtained his brand new little zippy sporty Mid Life Crisis Mobile. It was 2 am and nobody else was on the highway as he pulled on, so he decided to play "I wonder how fast I can make this go?"

    He was promptly pulled over. He was also completely honest with the nice officer [he's mostly a smart guy :-)] and told him, "It was stupid, but…" and explained.

    The cop sorta sighed and said he kinda understood the impulse but also explained why it was dangerous and dumb. He then (very!) kindly wrote the ticket for going about 10mph over the speed limit, not the actual amount, which would have pulled my friend's license on the spot.

    About a week later my friend was going to a convenience store to grab a quart of milk. As he is getting back into the MLCM a state trooper is getting out of his vehicle. The cop looks at him for a second, looks at the MLCM, and says, "Hey, didn't I just pull you over last week?"

    They both had a good laugh about it. And my friend has taken the lead outta his foot ever since.

    For MC: The driving teacher I had in high school [back when we used our feet to get the vehicle moving] told us two things about speed limits: 1) they're a *limit*, not a requirement. If it's not safe to go the posted limit GO SLOWER, 2) Don't be the person holding up traffic and being an obstruction. If you're going slower than everyone else, try to pull over and let people pass. If you can't, travel at the same speed they are. You are better off with a speeding ticket than causing an accident and getting (or causing) an injury.

  8. Antelope…

    The reason I didn't mention it is it isn't citeable. It's a reference section.

    But, you raise a good point. Only problem is I when I cite, 22351(b) is hard to prove. 😉

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