Motorist Awareness Wednesday.
KRS 189.390 Speed
(2) An operator of a vehicle upon a highway shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent, having regard for the traffic and for the condition and use of the highway.
Driving on rural roads.
“Shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent,”
What does that mean?
From an engineering perspective operating at speeds for which the road was designed for, which is only a small part of this statute.
How does it apply to a driver operating on a clear day with high visibility on a rural back road?
Let’s assume a straight stretch of road, out in the middle of nowhere. No side streets, no business’, or residences with traffic pulling in or merging out.
It means you can operate at or near the posted speed limit as long as doing so does not interfere with the established rights of those already lawfully present on the highway.
Now let’s add a residence.
It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a pet or child suddenly dart out into the road. There is reasonable expectation that someone could be checking their mailbox or crossing the road to visit their neighbor, when residences are present.
I’d also add that we are still assuming a perfectly flat and straight road.
Now let’s add a curve in the road.
It means you operate at a speed which gives you sufficient braking distance should a vehicle, pedestrian, pet, fallen log, or a wild animal present itself on the road.
The lesson here is never ever operate as though the road ahead of you is clear when you are not able to see what is actually ahead of you. You do not have a reasonable expectation that there won’t be anything around a curve in the road.
Engineering standards require you to slow down even for gentle curves with some visibility ahead. You can not operate with the assumption that your vehicle is going to maintain contact with the pavement as you take a turn at speed.
Let’s add a hill.
We are going to go back to assuming a straight road without any potential conflicts from the side of a road.
You are required to operate your vehicle at a speed which allows you sufficient braking distance should you encounter another vehicle or object over the crest of a hill.
You should never operate at a speed which causes you to “catch air.” When your tires are not in contact with the ground you do not have any control over your vehicle.
Some law enforcement officers have trouble understanding these basic driving rules.
“Gribler said that, “in hindsight,” Oliver should not have been speeding through Bloomingdale into the sun and over a blind hill…”
The mother of the injured boy had this to say.
“I was almost physically ill,” she said. “All along I’d been telling my boys to keep faith, there will be a reprimand, he’ll suffer, he’ll be punished, and I just felt such failure. How am I supposed to help my boys keep their faith when there is no repercussion?
You can never ever assume that there isn’t something on the other side of the hill.
Summary of part 1
All things being perfect you still can not operate faster than the posted speed nor can you operate at a speed which interferes with anyone who is already lawfully present on the road.
You are still required to operate at a speed which allows you sufficient reaction time and braking distance to avoid a collision.
This falls under reasonable and prudent operation of a vehicle.
Next week we will look at dense urban areas and discuss this tragic story.