|Driving Down the Highway 2.1|
All drivers are required to obey the posted speed limits. These limits are designed to ensure the orderly flow of traffic under normal conditions.
During periods of heavy traffic, bad weather, low visibility or other poor driving conditions, your speed must be adjusted accordingly. Always be aware of how fast you are traveling.
Virginia's Basic Speed Law states that you must never drive faster than is safe for present conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.
A defensive driver takes into consideration the overall driving situation and conditions, and always keeps a good distance between his/her car and the vehicle ahead.
The faster you are traveling, the more distance you should allow between your car and the car ahead of you. A good rule is to stay at least three seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you.
In other words, if the vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed object and you reach the same fixed object in less then three seconds, you are going too fast.
Know when to slow down. If you are appropriately aware of the road conditions, including icy or wet roads, poor visibility, and your own physical condition, you will slow down whenever any one of those conditions could lead you into trouble at the speed you usually drive. Don’t ever force yourself to drive.
Furthermore, you should always have a good sense of the condition of your vehicle. Driving within the capabilities of your vehicle is not only defensive driving, it is also just good sense.
The speed limit in business or residential districts is 25 MPH unless signs indicate otherwise.
The maximum speed limit on most Virginia highways is 65 MPH; however, for two-lane undivided highways, the maximum speed limit is 55 MPH, unless a higher speed is posted. Other speed limits are set for the type of roads and traffic in each area.
All speed limits are based on ideal driving conditions. Driving faster than the posted speed limit on any road, or faster than is safe for current conditions, is dangerous and illegal.
High speeds increase your stopping distance. The faster you go, the less time you have to avoid a hazard or accident. The force of a 60 MPH crash is not just twice that of a 30 MPH crash, it is four times as great. You may not drive faster than the posted speed limit, even if you think it is safe.
On the other side of the coin, if you block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic by driving too slowly, you may receive a ticket. If you are driving at the speed limit, but are still going slower than other traffic, do not drive in the fast lane. If you are in the left lane, move to the right when another driver behind you wishes to go faster.
When you are driving a bus, towing a vehicle, or driving a large truck, you will usually be traveling slower than other vehicles. You must drive in the right lane or in a lane specially marked for you. If no special lanes are marked, and four lanes go in your direction, you may only drive in either of the two lanes closest to the right side of the road.
Always drive more carefully near schools, playgrounds and parks, because children may suddenly dart into the street. Near schools:
- The speed limit is 25 MPH while children are outside or crossing the street.
- Never drive faster then 25 MPH when the school grounds are unfenced and children are outside.
- Watch for bicycles, pedestrians, and stopped school buses.
- Look for school safety patrols or school crossing guards and obey their directions.
- Be prepared for children crossing the street.
Some school buses flash yellow lights when the bus is stopped and preparing to let children leave the bus. This is a warning for you to prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights, you must stop until the children are safely across the street and the lights have stopped flashing.
Other Special Speed Limit Areas
At railroad crossings, most states require that you must not stop less than 15 feet from the tracks nor more than 50 feet.
Blind intersections are intersections where you cannot see for 100 feet in either direction during the last 100 feet before crossing. Trees, bushes, buildings or parked cars at intersections can block your view of cars coming from the side. You need to approach blind intersections slowly enough to be able to stop if a vehicle pulls out suddenly, but you may drive as fast as the posted speed limit if yield or stop signs on the side streets give you the right-of-way.
Whenever you are exiting a blind alleyway or crossing a blind intersection, the speed limit is 15 MPH whenever you cannot see for at least 100 feet in both directions for at least the last 100 feet before the crossing.