In California, speed regulations are based on the basic speed law that states, “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 no event at a speed which endangers the safety of person and property.” This applies to all roadways, even those with posted speed limits.
Under California Law, the maximum speed limit is 65 miles per hour (mph). All other speed limits are called prima facie limits, which are considered by law to be safe and prudent under normal conditions. Some prima facie limits are established by State law, such as:
· 25 mph speed limit in residential districts
· 25 mph speed limit in school zones when children are present
· 15 mph speed limit in alleys and railroad crossings
Speed limits between 25 mph and 65 mph and above 65 mph must be established by the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Sections 40801 and 40802. These CVC sections require that traffic speed limits are established by an Engineering and Traffic (E&T) Survey. The E&T Survey must consider prevailing vehicle speeds, collision frequencies, roadside development, and other conditions not readily apparent to drivers.
CVC Sections 40801 and 40802 require that E&T surveys be conducted every five (5) years to establish the prima facie speed limits before enforcement by radar can be conducted. The surveys can be extended to seven (7) years provided the City’s police officers have completed a 24-hour radar operator course. In addition, if the City Engineer certifies that no changes in the roadway or traffic conditions have occurred, the survey may be extended to ten (10) years.
The City is in the process of updating the E&T Survey. A report has been prepared which provides the results of the analysis of the data collected for the 195 roadway segments in the City. The data was analyzed in compliance with the CVC and the California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD).