When is the Speed Limit Not the Speed Limit?

speed limit
Sometimes the safe speed is not the posted speed limit. For example, in work zones, when there is bad weather or other hazardous conditions, drivers must slow down in order to be safe.

“But officer, I was going the posted speed limit!”

Famous last words!

Very often defendants in car crash cases will claim they are not liable for injuries because they were going the posted speed limit. However, the posted speed limit may or may not be the safe speed for the conditions.

In other words, when the roadway is wet, icy, oily, or there is sand on the road, going 45 miles per hour on a downward slope would be almost reckless. That is why the official Virginia police accident investigation form includes three boxes for each vehicle’s speed at the time of impact:

  • One box is for the posted speed limit
  • One box is for the vehicle’s speed prior to impact
  • A third box is the for safe speed for the conditions at the time of the crash.

Furthermore, the safe speed is reduced in the vicinity of work zones, construction areas, road paving operations, and heavy fog or other weather conditions.

Because of these factors, the Herndon law firm Abrams Landau, Ltd. will often get aerial photographs of the scene, canvas the area to find other eyewitnesses who may be aware of the conditions at the time of the crash, and pull the official weather reports to find out whether there was precipitation, freezing conditions, fog, sand washout, oil on the road surface, potholes, or other factors suggesting that the full speed limit was, in fact, unsafe.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car crash due to the unsafe actions of another driver and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).