Top 10 Questions – Basic Speed Law

Speed limit signs - licenseroute

What is Always a Safe Speed?

Maximum speed limits on certain highways, freeways, and expressways vary between states. But all states have one speed law in common.

Look at the following question:


Q: What is always a safe speed on a limited access highway?

A. 50 mph
B. 60 mph
C. 70 mph


The simple answer is that no speed is safe at all times. Or, in other words, a posted speed limit of 60 mph does not always mean 60!

The Basic Speed Law Explained

You must always drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, conditions and actual and potential hazards.

This is known as the basic speed law or general speed law.

Remember, a posted maximum speed limit shows the fastest speed you may drive under ideal conditions. When the weather is bad or there is a lot of traffic, you must slow down. If you drive faster than conditions allow, you can get a ticket.

Bethany, one of our users, thinks that the speed is up to her. She writes: you have the right to go that speed on that particular road if you are willing to risk your life. I may go at the posted speed limit under all conditions if I can get through and or keep control of my car.

Which is, of course, totally wrong.

It is always unlawful to drive at a speed which endangers the safety of yourself, other persons or property.

Basic Speed Law on the DMV Test

Several questions on your test will ask you about situations when you must adjust your speed. You will most likely find this information in many places in the Driver Handbook.

Excessive speed is often the factor that turns a minor incident into a fatal crash. It is also the most important cause of car skids.

Minimum Speed

While excessive speed is a main factor in crashes, driving too slowly is also dangerous. Some highways have minimum speed limits, where slow speeds can impede traffic flow or be dangerous. You may only drive slower than the posted minimum speed limit when conditions make it unsafe to drive at such a speed (the basic speed law).

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