California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

706. Basic Speed Law (Veh. Code, § 22350)

A person must drive at a reasonable speed. Whether a particular speed is reasonable depends on the circumstances such as traffic, weather, visibility, and road conditions. Drivers must not drive so fast that they create a danger to people or property.

If [name of plaintiff/defendant] has proved that [name of defendant/plaintiff] was not driving at a reasonable speed at the time of the accident, then [name of defendant/plaintiff] was negligent.

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • Vehicle Code section 22350 provides: “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
  • “The so-called basic speed law is primarily a regulation of the conduct of the operators of vehicles. They are bound to know the conditions which dictate the speeds at which they can drive with a reasonable degree of safety. They know, or should know, their cars and their own ability to handle them, and especially their ability to come to a stop at different speeds and under different conditions of the surface of the highway.” (Wilding v. Norton (1957) 156 Cal.App.2d 374, 379 [319 P.2d 440].)
  • “Whether Vehicle Code section 22350 has been violated is a question of fact.” (Leighton v. Dodge (1965) 236 Cal.App.2d 54, 57 [45 Cal.Rptr. 820], internal citation omitted.)
  • “A number of cases have held that it is proper to give an instruction in the terms of this section and to inform the jury that a violation of the statute is negligence.” (Hardin v. San Jose City Lines, Inc. (1953) 41 Cal.2d 432, 438 [260 P.2d 63].)
  • The burden of proving negligence in a civil action is on the party charging negligence, and even if such party has established speed in excess of the applicable prima facie limit the party must establish negligence under the circumstances. (Faselli v. Southern Pacific Co. (1957) 150 Cal.App.2d 644, 648 [310 P.2d 698].)
  • Compliance with the posted speed law does not negate negligence as a matter of law. (Maxwell v. Colburn (1980) 105 Cal.App.3d 180, 186 [163 Cal.Rptr. 912].)
  • Drivers who are driving at the maximum speed limit on a multi-lane freeway are not under a duty to move their vehicles to the right into the next slower lane when another vehicle approaches them from behind in the same lane at a speed in excess of the posted maximum speed limit. (Monreal v. Tobin (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 1337, 1354–1355 [72 Cal.Rptr.2d 168].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 878

California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) § 4.16

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, § 20.63[3][a] (Matthew Bender)