If you’re driving through California, you need to know the state’s speed limits.
Like other states in the U.S., California has multiple statutory speed limits which dictate the maximum speeds on different types of roads.
These speed limits are also known as prima facie speed limits.
While speed limits should be posted when you’re driving California roads, you can’t always rely on good signage along your route. (And a missing sign won’t stop you from getting a ticket if you’re speeding.)
So, if you want to avoid a ticket when driving in California, you might want to keep these basic speed limits in the back of your mind.
California Freeway Speed Limit
Freeways are defined as roads with controlled-access, which means they have on and off ramps and no immediate access to businesses or residential areas.
Basically, they’re interstates.
The maximum speed limit on freeways/interstates in California is 70 mph in rural areas and 65 mph within city limits, unless otherwise posted. (Though, speed limits through major cities and on curvy segments of road are often lower.)
California Fast Lane Speed Limit
Despite the name, the fast lane in California doesn’t permit you to go above the legal speed limit on the interstate.
Since fast lanes are within city limits, the maximum legal speed in the fast lane is 65 mph.
California Highway Speed Limit
Highways in California are defined as main roads with immediate access (turn-offs and driveways) to businesses or residential areas.
These roads may be two-lane roads or multi-lane roads.
The maximum speed on highways in California depends on the number of lanes.
On multi-lane (divided) highways, the statutory speed limit is 65 mph, unless otherwise posted.
On two-lane (undivided) highways, the statutory speed limit is 55 mph, unless otherwise posted.
California Residential & Business District Speed Limit
Residential districts in California are any areas that have a majority of residential buildings, such as single-family houses or apartment blocks.
Business districts are any areas that have a majority of businesses accessed directly from the road, typically downtown streets.
The speed limit in residential neighborhoods and business districts in California is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
Neighborhoods, especially those with private-access streets, often have lower speed limits.
California Truck Speed Limit
The following vehicles are considered “trucks” for the purposes of speed limits in California:
- Passenger vehicles towing trailers or other vehicles
- Farm labor vehicles (typically smaller buses/vans) when carrying passengers
- Vehicles carrying explosives
The maximum speed limit for vehicles that meet the definition of “truck” in California is 55 mph on freeways and highways.
California Construction Zone Speed Limit
For most general roadwork, construction zone speed limits in California are set at 10 mph below the regular speed limit.
However, the circumstances of a construction project may alter this maximum speed quite a lot.
Construction zones with two-way traffic or traffic-pattern changes are typically lower.
By law, the speed limit in a construction zone on a freeway or highway in California may be set as low as 25 mph if necessary for worker and driver safety.
Follow The Speed Limit
When it comes to maximum speeds in California, it’s always best to play it safe.
When in doubt, in an area with homes or businesses directly next to the road, assume the speed limit is 25 mph.
In areas where people may be walking or unexpected obstructions may occur, such as school zones, parking lots, and alleyways, assume the speed limit is 15 mph.
By assuming the lowest maximum speed limits in most instances, you can avoid a ticket and help keep everyone safe. As long as you keep with the general flow of traffic.
It’s not safe to go 20 mph below the speed limit either.