CHAPTER 249 – MOTOR VEHICLES

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 165 OF THE REVISED CODE OF DELAWARE, 1935, AS AMENDED, BY REPEALING 5623, SEC. 85 AND 5624, SEC. 86 THEREOF RELATING TO SPEED LIMITATIONS OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND BY SUBSTITUTING IN LIEU THEREOF TWO NEW SECTIONS TO BE KNOWN AS 5623, SECTION 85 AND 5624, SECTION 86, PROVIDING FOR SPEEDS OF MOTOR VEHICLES ON THE PUBLIC HIGHWAYS AND STREETS OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE; AND REGULATING THE MAXIMUM SPEEDS AND WEIGHTS ON ELEVATED STRUCTURES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

SECTION 1. That Chapter 165 of the Revised Code of Delaware, 1935, as amended, be and the same is hereby further amended by striking out and repealing 5623, Sec. 85 and 5624, Sec. 86 thereof and by substituting in lieu thereof the following new sections to be known as 5623, Sec. 85 and 5624, Sec. 86 of said chapter.

5623, Sec. 85. SPEED RESTRICTIONS—(A) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

(B) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (A) hereof, where no special hazard exists, the following speeds shall be lawful, but any speed in excess of said limits shall be absolute evidence that the speed is not reasonable or prudent and that it is unlawful:

I – Passenger Vehicles and Self Propelled Buses

1. Twenty-five miles per hour in any business district;

2. Thirty-five miles per hour in any residence district;

3. Fifty miles per hour under other conditions on two lane roads;

4. Fifty-five miles per hour under other conditions on four lane undivided roads and on dual highways.

II Motor Truck and Motor Truck Tractors with a Maximum Gross Weight Greater Than Eight Thousand Pounds

1. Twenty miles per hour in any business district;

2. Twenty-five miles per hour in any residence district;

3. Forty miles per hour under other conditions.

(C) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of the provisions of paragraph (A) hereof, drive at appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest when travelling upon any narrow or winding roadway and when special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.

(D) Establishment of State Speed Zones—Whenever the State Highway Department shall determine upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that any absolute speed hereinbefore set forth is greater or less than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist at any intersection or other place or upon any part of a highway, said State Highway Department may determine and declare a reasonable and safe absolute speed limit thereat which shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected at such intersection or other place or part of the highway.

(E) When local Authorities May Alter Absolute Limits—(a) Whenever local authorities within their respective jurisdictions determine upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation that the absolute speed permitted under this section is greater than is reasonable or safe under the conditions found to exist, such local authority subject to sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph shall determine and declare a reasonable and safe absolute speed limit, which shall be effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected.

(b) Local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may in their discretion, but subject to sub-paragraph (c) of this paragraph, authorize by ordinance higher absolute speeds than those stated in paragraph (B) of this section upon through highways or upon highways or portions thereof where there are no intersections or between widely spaced intersections provided signs are erected giving notice of the authorized speed, but local authorities shall not have authority to modify or alter the basic rule set forth in paragraph (A) of this section or in any event to authorize by ordinance a speed in excess of fifty miles per hour.

(C) Alteration of absolute limits on State highways or extension thereof in any municipality by local authorities shall not be effective until such alteration has been approved by the State Highway Department, except within the corporate limits of the City of Wilmington, to which this sub-paragraph (c) shall not apply.

(F) Minimum Speed Regulation—No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with the law.

Police officers are hereby authorized to enforce this provision by directions to drivers, and in the event of apparent willful disobedience to this provision and refusal to comply with directions of an officer in accordance herewith the continued slow operation by a driver shall be a misdemeanor.

(G) Charging Violations—In every charge of violation of any speed regulation in this act the complaint, also the summons or notice to appear shall specify the speed at which the defendant is alleged to have driven, also the absolute speed applicable within the district or at the location.

5624, Sec. 86. SPECIAL SPEED AND WEIGHT LIMITS ON ELEVATED STRUCTURES—(a) No person shall drive a vehicle over any bridge or elevated structure constituting a part of a highway at a speed which is greater than the maximum speed which can be maintained with safety to such bridge or structure, when such structure is signposted as provided in this section.

(b) No person shall drive a vehicle over any bridge or elevated structure constituting a part of a highway when such vehicle's gross weight (including carried load) is greater than the maximum weight which can be maintained with safety to such bridge or structure, when such structure is signposted as provided in this section.

(c) The State Highway Department upon request from any local authorities, or upon its own initiative may, conduct an investigation of any public bridge, causeway, or viaduct, and if it shall thereupon find that such structure cannot with safety to itself withstand vehicles travelling at the speed otherwise permissible under this act or withstand vehicular gross weights (including carried load) permissible under 5655, Section 117, Chapter 165 of the Revised Code of Delaware, 1935, the State Highway Department shall determine and declare the maximum speed or gross weight (including carried load) of vehicles, which such structure can withstand and shall cause or permit suitable signs stating such maximum speed or gross weight (including carried load) and maintained at a distance of 100 feet beyond each end of such structure. The findings and determinations of the State Highway Department shall be evidence of the maximum speed or gross weight (including carried load) which can with safety.to any such structure be maintained thereon.

(H) Defining "Business District" and "Residence District":— (a) Business District: the territory contiguous to and including a highway when 50 per cent or more of the frontage thereon for a distance of 300 feet or more is occupied by buildings in use for business.

(b) Residence District: the territory contiguous to and including a highway not comprising a business district when the property on such highway for a distance of 300 feet or more is in the main improved with residences or residences and buildings in use for business.

SECTION 2. All acts or parts of acts inconsistent with the provisions of this act are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistencies.

SECTION 3. This act shall become effective thirty days after the approval thereof by the Governor.

Approved April 22, 1941.