Must a medium-sized city like Oceanside go through the same process to
modify its speed limits as a larger town like Bakersfield?
The Oceanside Planning Commission recently considered a dozen changes to
speed limits in the city. Assistant traffic engineer Teala Cotter pointed
out that the changes were needed to comply with California law. She cautioned
the panel that “If we don’t go by the standards laid out in
the California Vehicle Code, the Oceanside Police Department will not
be able to
enforce the speed limits on these streets.” The engineers recommended ten
speed limit increases and two decreases.
The Commissioners voted down the two speed limit decreases and refused
to follow one recommendation for an increase, citing the high number of
pedestrians on two roads and the high number of crashes on a third one.
Setting the Speed Limit in California
Ms. Cotter was right. If the speed limit is not set properly, it violates
VC 40802, which is the speed trap law. To set the speed limit, cities, counties,
and other governments must follow two basic rules:
85th Percentile: Officials must measure the speed of the vehicles and set the speed limit
to match the velocity of 85 percent of the traffic. The final number is
rounded up or down to the nearest 5mph increment, so if the 85th percentile speed is 61mph, the speed limit can be 60 or 65mph.
Conditions Not Readily Apparent to Drivers: These conditions include road-specific items like high pedestrian traffic
or high crash rates, along with statutory items like school or hospital
zones. Typically, unless there is a controlling law, there may only be
a 5mph reduction from the 85th percentile for non-apparent conditions.
The supporting study must also be current, which in most cases means that
it is no more than three years old, if there is a deviation from the
presumed speed limits.
Getting Legal Help
The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving
individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call
today at 661-859-1177 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español,
llame al 661-376-0214.