The rules of the road provide for both minimum and maximum speed limits. However, the standards set for a vehicle’s minimum speed aren’t as cut and dry as those for a vehicle’s maximum speed. Still, a vehicle that does not adhere to the required minimum speed can cause problems and accidents on the road.
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The minimum speed requirement varies depending on the circumstances. Unlike the maximum speed limit, set as a numerical figure, there is no set numerical figure for the minimum speed that a vehicle should keep. The law only prohibits a vehicle driving on the highway from driving at such a speed that blocks traffic’s normal or reasonable movement.
The law prohibits bringing a vehicle to a complete stop in the middle of the street or highway in a manner that impedes reasonable traffic flow.
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A driver who violates the minimum speed law is considered negligent. Specifically, a presumption of negligence arises from a violation of the minimum speed requirement causing an accident. However, before this presumption can occur, the violation must be proven as the proximate cause of the injury suffered by the victim. For example, a car rear-ends a slow-moving vehicle in the fast lane. The driver of the next car sustains a fractured arm due to the collision. In this case, there is a presumption of negligence on the part of the driver of the slow-moving vehicle.
Determining whether the violation was the proximate cause of the injuries is a question of fact, meaning it has to be proven by a competent auto accident attorney in court. Before the presumption of negligence can arise, it has to be proven that the proximate cause of the injury violated the minimum speed requirement. Once established, the presumption of negligence will arise automatically.
Rear-end collisions are common car accidents caused by minimum speed requirement violations. Vehicle Code 22400, or the Minimum Speed Laws in California, bars drivers from driving at a slow speed to block normal traffic flow. Also, it prohibits drivers from driving at a slower speed than the established minimum speed limit. The Department of Transportation determines the minimum speed limit. Drivers are not allowed to move below the minimum speed limit except for safe operation or compliance with the law.
To avoid rear-end collisions, drivers following each other in traffic must observe their respective duties. The driver in front must not suddenly stop and give a signal when decreasing speed or stopping. On the other hand, the driver following the first driver has to keep a safe and reasonable distance from the vehicle in front.
There is no presumption of negligence in rear-end collisions. The liability and fault of each party must be hashed out in a trial. The mere fact that the cars collided does not automatically lead to a presumption of negligence; however, damages may be recovered from the negligent driver once it is adequately proven in court.
Parties may even be equally at fault. For example, the driver in front may have suddenly stopped while the rear driver was following too closely. In such a case, the doctrine of comparative negligence will be applied. The damages payable will be proportionate only to the level of fault committed.
One cause for a stopped vehicle is because the vehicle may have malfunctioned or become disabled. A disabled vehicle is a motor vehicle that cannot operate safely under its power due to mechanical failure or accident. The driver of the disabled vehicle must not impede or block the reasonable movement of traffic. The actions of the driver of a disabled vehicle are usually judged in light of the surrounding circumstances.