In Alabama and across the nation, speeding is consistently one of the top causes of auto accident fatalities. According to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, a car crash is considered speed related if law enforcement indicated on the accident report that the driver exceeded the posted speed limit, was engaged in a race with another vehicle, or drove at speeds that were unsafe for road conditions. In 2013, more than 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in Alabama were speed related.
Alabama’s basic speed rule states that a driver must operate the vehicle at a reasonable speed with regard to the existing and potential hazards and conditions. This includes nearing and crossing intersections, curves, hill crests and railroad crossings, as well as driving on narrow or winding roadways, areas with high pedestrian traffic, or inclement weather conditions.
Speeding is considered reckless driving if the person behind the wheel is being careless and showing a willful disregard for the safety of others or their property and placing them in danger. According to the Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, this definition is consistent with the legal definition of negligence, which is the failure to exercise the level of care that a prudent person would use in the same situation. This is determined by considering the following:
- Whether the behavior is likely to cause harm
- Potential severity of that harm
- Person’s responsibility and ability to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm
While a speed-related traffic violation is a misdemeanor in Alabama, it is considered a homicide if that violation is the direct cause of the death of another.