It is likely that all drivers have broken the speed limit at some point or another. While just about everyone does it, that does NOT make speeding legal, safe, or justifiable! At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we’ve seen many innocent people injured, disabled, or even killed by speeders who crashed into other vehicles because they were going fast enough that they couldn’t stop or react in time to avoid a crash.
Remember: it is the speed limit, NOT the speed target.
However, it does raise the question whether it is ever legally acceptable to speed, and whether it is ever safer to speed than to drive at or under the posted speed limit—for example, to match the flow of traffic. Our blog has an answer.
What is the Speed Limit in Georgia and Alabama?
Before we can discuss speeding, we need to know what the speed limit is on various roads in Georgia and Alabama. Unless otherwise marked, the speed limits posted below should be considered the law:
- Urban areas – 30 MPH
- Residential areas – 25 MPH
- School zones – 15 MPH
- Highways with three or fewer lanes – 55 MPH
- Highways with four or more lanes – 65 MPH
- Interstate highways – 70 MPH
- County roads – 45 MPH
- Unpaved county roads – 35 MPH
Is It Legal to Speed When Passing?
It is very common for us to hear the belief that drivers can temporarily exceed the speed limit in order to safely overtake another car, so long as they return to driving at or under the speed limit once they get back into the correct lane.
Some states do allow some flexibility when a vehicle is passing another vehicle, but Georgia and Alabama have what is called “absolute” speeding laws. That means it is NEVER acceptable to exceed the speed limit, even when passing another vehicle. All passing must be done within the posted speed limit.
You might question how you are supposed to pass someone if you cannot exceed the speed limit to do so. The argument is that if the guy in front of you is driving at the posted speed limit, there is no legitimate reason to pass them. If they are driving at a speed below the posted speed limit, the law states that it is actually illegal for them to speed up to try to prevent you from overtaking them, as long as you are doing so legally.
The safest way to pass is for the driver being overtaken to temporarily slow to allow the passing driver to get a safe distance ahead of their vehicle.
Is It Legal to Speed in an Emergency?
A common scene in movies and television is a husband breaking all the speed limits to get his pregnant wife to the hospital in time before the baby comes. This may contribute to the belief that speed limits can be broken in medical emergencies.
This is NOT true. Even in the case of medical emergencies, it is not legal to break the speed limit. A police officer who pulls someone over for speeding may decide not to issue a speeding ticket if it was an emergency situation, but that doesn’t mean they will, or that they have any obligation to do so.
Anyone who does this is breaking the law and endangering others around them. While the speeder may get their loved one to the hospital faster, it is just as likely that they will cause a wreck and inadvertently injure or kill themselves, their passenger, or another driver. I can tell you from years of experience that speeding drivers cause wrecks.
Drivers of emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks are the only drivers granted the right to disregard speed limits. Even in an emergency, your car is not an emergency vehicle. The safest thing to do in these cases is to call an ambulance to take yourself or your loved one to the hospital.
Related Reading: Can I Sue for Injuries I Got as a Passenger in a Car Accident?
Is it Legal to Speed to Match the Flow of Traffic?
Another major myth is that you should drive at the speed of traffic, rather than the posted speed limit. Part of the reason this myth gets perpetuated is because of the related myth that it is safer to drive at the same speed as everyone else, even if everyone else is speeding.
Speed limits are not selected arbitrarily. They are supposed to be based on how safe it is to drive in any given area and for any given type of road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding causes roughly one-third of all auto wrecks every year, and high-speed crashes are far deadlier than low speed collisions. Ultimately, speed kills. If you are worried about the speed of vehicles around you, move to the rightmost lane to give faster drivers room to pass you, without exceeding the speed limit yourself.
Another thing to keep in mind is trying to use this argument against a police officer who has pulled you over is as good as an admission that you knew you were speeding, and you could be hit with a charge of reckless driving.
Georgia’s Super Speeder Law
In 2010, Georgia passed its “Super Speeder” law, which states that any driver going 75 MPH or more on a two-lane road or 85 MPH or more on the highway can be charged with “super speeding,” regardless of the posted speed limit.
That means it is just as bad to be going 85 MPH in a 70 MPH zone (15 over) as it is to be going 85 in a 55 MPH zone (30 over). Anyone charged with super speeding will get an extra $200 fine added on top of their speeding ticket, and failure to pay or paying late can result in suspension of your license. No one likes to get stuck with these fines, and the real cost comes when you renew your auto insurance policy!
If You Were Injured by a Reckless Speeder, Get Gary Bruce
There is never an excuse for speeding, neither legally nor ethically. Anytime someone speeds, they are putting other people’s lives at risk, and all too often, those innocent people pay the price. If you or someone you love were seriously injured in a crash caused by a speeder, contact the Law Offices of Gary Bruce today for a free consultation. We want to help you get justice for your losses.