CACI No. 1120. Failure to Provide Traffic Control Signals (Gov. Code, § 830.4)

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2024 edition)

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1120.Failure to Provide Traffic Control Signals (Gov. Code,
§ 830.4)
You may not find that [name of defendant]’s property was in a dangerous
condition just because it did not provide a [insert device or marking].
However, you may consider the lack of a [insert device or marking], along
with other circumstances shown by the evidence, in determining whether
[name of defendant]’s property was dangerous.
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
No Liability for Failure to Provide Traffic Controls. Government Code section
‘[T]he statutory scheme precludes a plaintiff from imposing liability on a
public entity for creating a dangerous condition merely because it did not install
the described traffic control devices.’ In short, ‘[t]he lack of a traffic signal at the
intersection does not constitute proof of a dangerous condition.’ (Mixon v.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 124, 135 [142 Cal.Rptr.3d
633], internal citation omitted.)
“Cases interpreting this statute have held that it provides a shield against liability
only in those situations where the alleged dangerous condition exists solely as a
result of the public entity’s failure to provide a regulatory traffic device or street
marking. If a traffic intersection is dangerous for reasons other than the failure to
provide regulatory signals or street markings, the statute provides no immunity.”
(Washington v. City and County of San Francisco (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 1531,
1534-1535 [269 Cal.Rptr. 58].)
“A public entity does not create a dangerous condition on its property ‘merely
because of the failure to provide regulatory traffic control signals, stop signs,
yield right-of-way signs, or speed restriction signs . . . .’ 830.4.) If, on the
other hand, the government installs traffic signals and invites the public to
justifiably rely on them, liability will attach if the signals malfunction, confusing
or misleading motorists, and causing an accident to occur. The reasoning behind
this rule is that the government creates a dangerous condition and a trap when it
operates traffic signals that, for example, direct motorists to ‘go’ in all four
directions of an intersection simultaneously, with predictable results.”
(Chowdhury v. City of Los Angeles (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 1187, 1194-1195 [45
Cal.Rptr.2d 657], internal citations omitted.)
“If the government turns off traffic signals entirely to avoid confusion, liability
does not attach. ‘When the [traffic] lights were turned off, their defective
condition could no longer mislead or misdirect the injured party.’ The same
result obtains whether the traffic signals are extinguished by design or by
accident.” (Chowdhury, supra, 38 Cal.App.4th at p. 1195, internal citations
“Although section 830.4 . . . provides that a condition of public property is not
a dangerous one merely because of the failure to provide regulatory traffic
control signals, the absence of such signals for the protection of pedestrians must
be taken into consideration, together with other factors. . . . [T]he lack of
crosswalk markings, better illumination and warning signs became important
factors in the case when the [pedestrian] subway itself was in a dangerous
condition.” (Gardner v. City of San Jose (1967) 248 Cal.App.2d 798, 803 [57
Cal.Rptr. 176].)
“In short, a dangerous condition proven to exist, for reasons other than or in
addition to the mere failure to provide the controls or markings described in
section 830.4, may constitute a proximate cause of injury without regard to
whether such condition also constitutes a ‘trap,’ as described by section 830.8, to
one using the public improvement with due care because of the failure to post
signs different from those dealt with by section 830.4 warning of that dangerous
condition.” (Washington, supra, 219 Cal.App.3d at p. 1537.)
“[D]efendant did not cite, nor have we located, any authority to extend this
statutory immunity to a private entity alleged to have been negligent. To the
contrary, a defendant that ‘is not a “public entity” . . . is not entitled to claim
the immunity set forth in the Tort Claims Act.’ (Lichtman v. Siemens Industry
Inc. (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 914, 930 [224 Cal.Rptr.3d 725].)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, § 316
2 California Government Tort Liability Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 4th ed.) § 12.75
5 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 61, Particular Liabilities and Immunities of
Public Entities and Public Employees, § 61.03[4] (Matthew Bender)
40 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 464, Public Entities and Offıcers:
California Government Claims Act, § 464.85 (Matthew Bender)
19A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 196, Public Entities, §§ 196.12, 196.210
(Matthew Bender)

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