Recently, Austin city engineers presented their recommendations to the Urban Transport Commission, arguing that the speed limits on roads in the urban core and on downtown streets, as well as on residential streets, should be lowered by 5-10 mph. The Office of the City Traffic Engineer points to speeding as the most significant cause of automobile accidents in Austin and its surrounding suburbs, and a speed reduction on some of the most commonly-traveled streets is seen as a good way to lower Austin’s ever-rising number of traffic fatalities.
If you have been involved in a traffic accident, it is very likely that the driver who struck you was exceeding the speed limit. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that around 9,400 people were killed in 2018 due to speeding-related causes, or around 26 percent of all traffic fatalities. Seventeen percent of drivers were actually speeding at the time of their crashes, but the 26 percent also includes those whose passing was directly related to speeding behaviors even if they were not speeding themselves – for example, not wearing a seatbelt, or driving at the posted speed limit when one should be driving more slowly, such as in bad weather.
The Office of the City Traffic Engineer’s recommendation to lower speed limits is obviously designed to cut down on multi-vehicle traffic accidents, but in addition, it can help to avoid clogging court dockets with what are seen as small-time offenses. Texas has two types of speeding laws – a “basic” speeding law, and a “prima facie” speed limit, where a speed in excess of the posted limit is “prima facie” unlawful (that is, you must be able to argue that your speed was safe). Speeding tickets can take time to resolve, especially if a person decides to fight theirs in court.
Negligence Per Se
If you have been injured in an accident with a person who was clearly driving faster than the posted speed limit, you must be able to establish that their conduct was negligent – that they owed a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the other drivers on the road, and that they failed to exercise that care. If you can establish that your injuries happened as a direct result of that lack of care, you should then be able to seek compensation from the defendant for your injuries.
In addition, having a lower speed limit, if it is eventually implemented, can sometimes help in accident cases because breaking the speed limit (in most cases) is proof of breaking the law. If a driver has broken the law and that conduct harmed someone who is a member of the class that the law is designed to protect, Texas law allows the driver to be ruled negligent as a matter of law. In other words, if you can prove that the driver who struck you was speeding, causing them to break the speed limit that is designed to protect all drivers, you do not have to prove that they acted negligently – their negligence is considered fact.
Call a New Braunfels Car Accident Attorney
While the recommendations of the City Traffic Engineer have a long way to go before they are adopted as an ordinance, it is worth keeping in mind that the role of the speed limit can be helpful in holding reckless drivers accountable. The skilled New Braunfels car accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are well versed in this type of law, and we are happy to try and discuss your case with you. Contact our office at 888-392-0039 for a free consultation.