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Ask a Cop: Should I Speed if Everyone Around Me is Doing it?

Have a question for the Sheriff's Office? Let us know.

Is there anything you have ever wanted to know from the police department? Well, this is your chance to ask. We will be teaming up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies from around the county to answer your questions.

Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email Shannon.burkey@patch.com.

Question:

When the speed limit is posted at 35 mph (for example) and I’m driving that speed, it never fails that all the other cars are going 45 or faster. Everyone is going around me. Should I “go with the flow” and drive above the limit or shall I remain at that speed and cause everyone else to go around me? I feel like I’m becoming a hazard making everyone adjust to me. 

Answer:

This is a common question. If the flow of traffic is higher than the posted speed limit, what is a driver to do? The answer is very similar to what a good parent would tell their teen: "Everyone else doing it does not make it right or safe." You are accountable for your own safety and that of your passengers. If you find yourself being tailgated, and you respond by speeding up, you will now only be tailgated at a higher speed. Instead, continue to drive the speed limit. If this is on a road with double yellow lines, find a turn out and allow faster drivers to pass. If other drivers do pass you unsafely, they do so at their own risk. You cannot prevent other drivers from being dangerous behind the wheel, but you can make sure you and your passengers are safe by obeying all traffic laws.

~Officer Sarah Jackson, California Highway Patrol

Ms.Kelly July 17, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I was always told, "you're not a pace car". If the speed limit is posted at 35, then you should be going 35 regardless of how fast others are going. I'm sure if you get pulled over at 45mph in a 35mph zone and say "well everyone else is going 45" , it isn't going to get you out of a ticket. Your the one driving the vehicle, so you're the one that should be determining how fast you're really willing to go and if you're risking getting a ticket. If everyone is going 45 in a 35, obviously a cop isn't going to pull over the entire freeway at once, you may just be the lucky one. Id say just use caution.....
Peking July 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Thank you, Officer Jackson, for the best driving advice: "You cannot prevent other drivers from being dangerous behind the wheel, but you can make sure you and your passengers are safe by obeying all traffic laws."
David H. Perez July 17, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I also agree with Officer Jackson. When I drive, I am mindful of the traffic laws and do my best to stay out of the path of the violators. Then I can only hope Karma catches up with them before they hurt innocent people. It is also important to note that speed is a factor in most traffic crashes and fatalities.
Cathy P. July 18, 2012 at 08:51 PM
@Ms. Kelly: as a commuter over 17 in the morning and 101/152 in the evening, I 100% agree with the statement "you aren't a pace car." I (mostly) drive the speed limit and stay in the slow lane at all times unless I'm passing a big rig or an extremely slow driver. If I happen to be in the fast lane and get an agressive driver on my bumper -even if I'm going the posted speed- I simply move over and say a prayer that the nitwit doesn't cause an accident and injure or kill innocent drivers in his/her way somewhere up ahead. For me, life is too short to end up a fatality going to and from work. My Dad was once stopped by a CHP for speeding. He asked why he was getting a ticket since he was driving with the flow of traffic and the Officer said "You were the one I could catch." LOL, it's true!
Joshua Alexander October 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Amen! x2

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