Traffic laws

So I’ve been stumbling across a few problems that are causing me grief.

Every day when I drive to school, I pass by 2 school zones. You’re supposed to go 25 miles per hour in a school zone when children are present. I try to slow down once I see kids in the area, but my dad always says to keep up with the flow of traffic. The speed limit otherwise is 40 miles per hour, and obviously everybody else ignores the school zone and just goes 40 miles per hour. I’m not really sure what to do. I usually end up going about 30 MPH which is still technically speeding, but it’s 10 MPH better than what my dad would prefer I do.

Every day when I walk to the bus stop after school, there is a short distance I have to walk on the right side of the road. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s illegal to walk on the right side of the road; California driver’s code makes it sound like it’s legal within business and residential areas, but I’m not certain I’m getting the full picture. Law is written really weirdly and I wonder if it’s not wrong to just assume I’ve interpreted it right and walk on the right side of the road without doing further research? Anyways, it’s about a 20 foot stretch, within a residential area, I know it’s not unsafe to do it. I’ve been trying to convince myself it’s fine to do for weeks now but I’m having issues believing myself.

I’d drive the posted speed limit, especially in a school zone. The flow of traffic can afford to wait an extra few seconds until you’re through the area. And the odds of you getting stopped for driving the correct speed limit are basically nil, while the odds of getting stopped for going too fast are realistic - some cops like to camp out around such areas just so they can nail speeders.

Every day when I walk to the bus stop after school, there is a short distance I have to walk on the right side of the road. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s illegal to walk on the right side of the road; California driver’s code makes it sound like it’s legal within business and residential areas, but I’m not certain I’m getting the full picture. Law is written really weirdly and I wonder if it’s not wrong to just assume I’ve interpreted it right and walk on the right side of the road without doing further research? Anyways, it’s about a 20 foot stretch, within a residential area, I know it’s not unsafe to do it. I’ve been trying to convince myself it’s fine to do for weeks now but I’m having issues believing myself.

This link should help. Also California Vehicle Code requires pedestrians to walk against oncoming traffic when there’s no sidewalk.

Where I live, cops enforce school speed limits very stringently. In most areas the posted limit is 15mph during arrival and dismissal times. Most people slow down, but not always to the limit. I would suggest you stay in the right most lane if it’s a multi-lane road, and begin slowing down in advance of the sign to decrease your chances of being rear-ended. If people want to think you’re an old grandma, that’s their problem.

“Going with the flow of traffic” doesn’t impress a cop when he stops you for speeding either - ask me how I know. :wink:

Speeding in a school zone puts children at risk. Why would you want to do that?

Surprising. The only place around here where everyone follows the speed limit is in school zones. The flow of traffic is always at the reduced speed. The police in this state will give people a 10 mph leeway almost always, except in school zones. If it says 20 mph, you had better go no faster than 20.

You should ALWAYS follow the speed limit. Never ever go over it, unless by accident. Speeding is extremely bad, and endangers both you, and other people in your car, and on the street. After all, it is called a limit for a reason.

I personally never go over the speed limit. I feel like I am doing a good thing, by going slower. It makes other people have to drive slower, making them safer too. :smiley:

How do you mean that you have to walk on the right side? Is there an obstacle or danger on the left side of the road?

In any case, I would decide on the basis of the “spirit” or intent of the law. The law is intended to serve your good and the common good. The California law (concerning walking to face oncoming traffic when there is no sidewalk) exists primarily for the safety of the pedestrian and secondarily for the safety of motorists who might swerve to avoid you. If there are no moving vehicles, there is no real problem. Where you only have to go 20 feet, you would be able to see approaching vehicles and wait until they have passed. I would do as you have done, and walk on the right.

Generally, the slower the speed, the safer.

A lower speed means more time to react to situations and less damage should anything happen.

In a local situation, the benefit of an extra five miles of speed is not worth the legal and physical ramifications.

Follow the posted limit.


You alone are responsible for the safety of your driving. Perhaps you could explain to your passengers that you take this responsibility seriously and cannot compromise on safety. When you are driving, decide for yourself what is safe. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into driving in a manner which you deem to be unsafe. Pay no attention to the impatience of passengers in your car, motorists (honking horns, rude gestures, or other impatient behavior), or even pedestrians.

In recent years, I have applied this principle in reverse, addressing my own impatience with other drivers. I try not to criticize, pressure, or think poorly of drivers who seem to drive too cautiously in any way.

For the school zone- drive 25 or less. The reason it is 25mph is because that provides a driver sufficient reaction time to hit the brakes if a kid darts out into the road. As a new driver, you may be slower to react than typical. It’s about not hitting a kid and 25 mph makes you better able to keep from hitting one. Imagine how horrible you would feel if you ran over a child, it would be awful. It can happen even at 25 mph if a kid unexpectedly darts out from between two cars etc. It will be far worse if you’re driving too fast, always wondering if you’d obeyed the law it wouldn’t have happened. There is a park near us where there’s a lot of activity- soccer/baseball/kids parties etc. with cars closely packed at the curb. I drive well under the posted speed limit there because at that speed there just isn’t the reaction time if a kid pops out from between the cars. It occasionally irritates the folks behind me- but I have to live with myself and make prudent decisions. I’ve probably been driving longer than you’ve been alive and I’m not averse to driving at speed. But not in a school zone, or even near a park you must stay aware of your surroundings and potential hazards/risks. Look up the “Basic Speed Law”.

Now- when you’re driving in an area like that the most important thing is to be looking outside the car, not at your speedometer. Get a feel for what 25 is like, a glance at the speedometer just prior to entering the zone- but keep your eyes scanning the road ahead and the curb/sidewalk where kids may enter the roadway from.

By the way, if you’re on your folks insurance and you do enough damage/injury that it isn’t covered by the insurance, your folks can get sued for the unpaid balance. They can lose house, cars, etc. over a serious mistake made at the wheel of car. May want to point out to your Dad that as an inexperienced driver it’s in both your interests to keep it at 25 or under in the school zone.

It’s often the case that people go faster than the advertised limit in certain areas. However, if a child ran out in front of you, the fact that you were just doing what everyone else does would be no defence at all.

In the UK, our normal limit is 30mph in built-up areas and many busy streets have limits of 20mph. In my view, 40 is far too fast when you’re coming near a school. Your dad can go as fast as he wants when he’s behind the wheel, but don’t let him give you bad driving habits.

School Zones are very important - where I live it is 15!

Slow down to the required speed - that will slow everyone else down. Do so carefully of course.

Of course if people start passing you that can create a danger. Use prudence.

The Police ought to be alerted so that can give these people very big fines or jail time to make them slow down!

This is a school zone!

Never going over the speed limit is admirable. However, consistently doing under the posted speed limit because ***you think ***it is safer is actually more dangerous for you and everyone else on the road.

As you said, there are limits for a reason.

Interesting viewpoint I have.

Someone breaks the law, and the government makes money off of it.
Imagine, making money off of illegal activity! Sounds like RICO.

So if one corporation makes money off of illegal activity, RICO time.
If another corporation (government) makes money off of illegal activity, okaley dokaley!

I agree, saw an accident last week due to someone on the expressway driving way too slow, this causes more problems than most people think, its actually dangerous to NOT go with the flow of traffic, although I think 15mph is a bit ridiculous, that is barely moving LOL

Use common sense on the road and you will be just fine.

Not only that, but if you are speeding and hit a child, severly injuring or even killing them, then you may spend a stretch in prison, and there you will be, as you say - “always wondering if you’d obeyed the law it wouldn’t have happened”.

Stick the speed limits, but especially in school zones since the chance of something bad happening is greater than elsewhere.

I’ve read that article. It says that you should, not that you must. If this was was an extended stretch without a sidewalk, I would walk against traffic for safety and all that. But this is literally 15-20 feet. I’d probably spend more total time on the roadway if I crossed to the other side and then back, since the left side of the road is broken up and requires me to cross the street a total of 4 times.

According to California vehicle code:
“(a) No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a
business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her
left-hand edge of the roadway.
(b) A pedestrian may walk close to his or her right-hand edge of
the roadway if a crosswalk or other means of safely crossing the
roadway is not available or if existing traffic or other conditions
would compromise the safety of a pedestrian attempting to cross the

The first bit makes it sound like it is legal within a business or residential area. I wouldn’t say I’m sure about that, but heavens knows why they would write it that way if it’s illegal everywhere.
The second bit is a bit subjective. Technically there is a crosswalk available, but if I were to decide that it’s necessary to cross I probably wouldn’t use it. It’s legal to cross a street anywhere as long as it is not between 2 adjacent traffic sign controlled intersections, and I’d rather go as little out of my way as possible to follow the technical letter of the law - which would be to cross, walk 20 feet on the sidewalk, and then cross immediately back, both without a crosswalk. This way, i would also only be crossing twice, instead of the 4 times that I would cross should I use the crosswalk. In my opinion, the availability of this available crosswalk is debatable, since it is a ways back from the non-sidewalked area. That’s a huge technicality, but then again, so is this whole question.

Ok, and on speeding…everyone has pretty much said what I was thinking. I try to go 25 MPH but it’s harder than you think when I get a lecture from my dad every time I try to slow down. I guess I’ll just try harder.

The force of impact at higher speeds also includes a higher risk of injury of death than lower speeds. I imagine the primary goal of lower speeds is to prevent accidents in the first place, but if a child were to dart out into the road and be struck by a vehicle, their chances of recovery are much greater if that car is going 15mph instead of 30mph.

I do think sometimes, especially on highways, there is something to be said for “keeping up with traffic,” but in residential areas in particular with frequent stops and starts, I think it makes sense to drive basically as close to the posted limit as possible. And “staying with traffic”, as I said earlier, does not impress a cop who pulls you over for speeding. A few years ago, I was pulled over on my way to work. I was actually the slowest one on the road, but I was still about 10mph over the posted limit - this was on a highway. I think that just made me easier to catch. :stuck_out_tongue:

If there aren’t a ton of cars on the road, YOU help set the flow of traffic, anyway.

I can sympathize with the OP because my father is a very impatient driver and prone to speeding. My high school was on his way to work so he used to let me drive his car to school in the mornings. It really frustrated him that I stuck to posted limits (though he also used to yell at drivers behind me who would tailgate - oddly enough, mostly in school zones.) That unnerved me a lot. It can be hard to say, “Look, Dad, I am going to go the posted limit.” But it’s a very, very good habit to have.

Odd, I was a bit worried my son would have the ‘speed gene’ which tends to run in our family. Sister had multiple speeding tickets and a muscle car (69 Pontiac Formula 400) which the police came to know by sight throughout the county, I was not unfamiliar with the upper reaches of the speedometer on my various cars, other sisters also were a bit heavy with the right pedal. All kinds of bad could have happened.

Luckily, my kids all turned out to be quite conservative drivers for which I’m truly grateful. I can’t believe your dad can see your prudence as anything but a good thing. Again, I’m not wild at the thought of losing my house over my kids doing something stupid while driving.

If your Dad starts to lecture you, pull over. Hand him the keys. Tell him to drive. Explain to him that you want to stay within your limitations at your experience level. You are concerned about hitting a kid, not necessarily a ticket. You won’t be pushed into exceeding your limits by either him-- or your friends when you are finally able to have them in the car after your license is no longer provisional.

I stay in the right lane on the highway, and go the speed limit. I never encounter trouble usually. I have been illegally passed on local roads, but I couldn’t care less. If someone is in such a huge rush, then they should leave earlier, then they don’t have to go so fast.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit