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Basic Speed - Too Fast For Conditions

Every winter season brings icy roads, hazardous conditions and collisions.  Often a driver is cited for ‘basic speed’ when a collision occurs, yet the speed limit was not violated.  At times this is confusing for the motorist who receives the citation, because they were not ‘speeding’ in the usual sense.

Speed limits are set for ideal road conditions – and are the maximum one should travel.  During certain conditions – rain, snow, icy roads, heavy traffic conditions – motorists should adjust their speed accordingly.  This means traveling under the posted speed limit should it be necessary to keep your vehicle under control. 

Anchorage Municipal Ordinance 9.26.010 - Speed to Be Safe and Appropriate For Existing Conditions states “No person may drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazard then existing. Consistent with this provision, every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or street conditions.”

So what does this really mean?  Here’s an example:  You are traveling on Tudor Road, where the posted speed is 45 miles per hour.  Road conditions are icy, its rush hour, and traffic is heavy.  You are traveling at or below the posted speed.  You attempt to stop in traffic that is slowing in front of you, but are unable to do so due to the icy road, and you begin to skid on the ice.  Your vehicle begins to fishtail and you strike another vehicle.  An officer responds to investigate the collision and cites you for Basic Speed, based upon the language in the ordinance above – “reasonable and prudent under the conditions……..or by reason of weather or street conditions.”

Simply put, if conditions are such that travel is hazardous or even dangerous, drivers are tasked with slowing to a speed that will allow them to maintain control of their vehicles at all times.  Bottom line – slow down, give the vehicle in front of you plenty of room and wear your seat belt. 

Violations of this ordinance carry a $90.00 fine with a 2 point assessment on drivers licenses.

    • Police Department
    • Chief of Police : Mark Mew
    • 4501 Elmore Road, Anchorage, AK 99507
    • 907 786-8500