Residents of one local community who are already upset about speeding cars
may be even more perturbed in coming months because under California Law
(that applies to Kern County roads as well), the speed limit may actually
need to be raised.
Officials in Coronado began scrutinizing traffic on Third and Fourth Streets
after people complained about speeding cars. But instead of slowing them
down, the city might actually speed the traffic up, because a Caltrans
study found that 85 percent of the cars travelled faster than the posted
25 mph speed limit. As such, the agency is considering increasing the
speed limit to 30 and 35, so the area won't be labeled as a speed trap.
Lower speed proponents hope that the agency may apply the "local"
exemption applies, and the speed limit either won't be raised or will
Setting the speed limit in Kern County is not an arbitrary process. California
has a number of prima facie speed limits: 65 mph on a divided highway,
55 mph on an undivided highway, 25 mph near a school or senior center
and 15 mph near a blind intersection or railroad crossing. If localities
deviate from the prima face limits, the speed limit is radar-enforced
and there is no traffic or engineering study justifying the lower speed
limit, under VC 40802, that roadway is a speed trap. In other words, if
the speed limit drops inexplicably and an officer is pointing a radar
gun, the ticket may be thrown out.
40802 does not apply to "local" roads and "school zones,"
and the statute has very specific definitions for these places. A "local"
roadway cannot be more than 40 feet wide, must contain a traffic control
signal at least once every half-mile and cannot be more than two lanes.
Although Third and Fourth Streets are clearly in residential areas, they
appear to be more than 40 feet wide, so the local exception may not apply.