95th SFS: Drive carefully near school zones

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Robert Tucker
  • 95th Security Forces Squadron
Edwards maintains one of the Air Force's most diverse and highest speed road systems. While driving on Edwards one will experience everything from unimproved dirt roads to four-lane divided highways. 

Motorists will also experience speed zones ranging from five to 60 miles per hour. The right to operate a motor vehicle on base is a privilege granted by the installation commander. With this privilege comes the responsibility to drive safely. 

Drivers must remember to drive even more carefully near schools, playgrounds, parks and residential areas. Children living on-base become accustomed to drivers paying attention and driving slowly. For this reason children are more likely than off-base children to play or walk in the streets. Thus, dangerous driving poses a greater threat on-base than off-base. 

The zone encompassing the schools on Edwards continues to experience problems with unsafe driving. To ensure the safety of children, unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 25 mph within 500 feet of a school when children are present. It's important to remember school does not have to be in session for the school zone to be in effect. If children are present, the school zone speed limit is in effect. The minimum fine for speeding in a school zone is $195. Edwards may also include a one year suspension of base driving privileges. 

People can read Vehicle Code to increase knowledge of traffic laws in California. The Basic Speed Law states that California drivers may not drive faster than is "reasonable and prudent and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property." 

What speed is "reasonable and prudent?" These default speed limits are also known as prima facie speed limits. For example, the maximum speed on most California highways is 65 mph. On a two-lane, undivided highway, the speed limit drops to 55 mph. 

The prima facie speed limit is 15 miles per hour in alleyways and approaching blind intersections or railroad crossings and 25 mph near schools or senior centers. The prima facie speed limits can be altered as appropriate to fit local conditions. This is usually done through an engineering and traffic survey. Edwards's roads have been surveyed and the current speed limits are those recommended by traffic engineers. 

It's also important to remember to adjust speed based on conditions such as weather and traffic. Posted speed limits are maximum speed limits for ideal conditions. If conditions are less than ideal and the speed is not adjusted, motorists can still get a speeding ticket for violating California's Basic Speed Law. 

In relation to driving on Edwards, the goal of the 95th Security Forces Squadron is to monitor traffic to ensure motorists observe traffic regulations and exhibit safe driving procedures. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. All vehicle operators should be aware of traffic regulations especially when safety is a concern. Remember to be safe and arrive alive to the destination.