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3.7-3  Statutory Negligence - Traveling Unreasonably Fast

Revised to January 1, 2008

We have a statute that provides that no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon any public highway of the state at a rate of speed greater than is reasonable, having regard to the width, traffic and use of the highway, the intersection of streets and weather conditions.  A reasonable speed is the speed at which a reasonably prudent person would travel under all of the circumstances.

One fact that you may consider is the posted speed.  There is evidence that the public highway in question had a posted speed limit.

If you find that the defendant was driving in excess of the posted speed limit at the time in question, that fact standing alone permits but does not require you to find that the defendant's speed was unreasonable.

If you find that the defendant was not driving in excess of the posted speed limit at the time in question, this does not necessarily relieve the defendant of liability.  The statute provides that the fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the posted speed limit shall not relieve the operator from the duty to decrease speed when a special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.


General Statutes 14-218a (a); Rapuano v. Oder, 181 Conn. 515 (1980).


The terms "plaintiff" and "defendant" must be switched when unreasonable speed is asserted in a special defense.  The paragraphs given will, of course, depend on the evidence in the case.  The statute applies to a number of roads and areas other than public highways.  Public highways are used here for illustrative purposes.  Speeding in violation of General Statutes 14-219 is addressed in Statutory Negligence - Speeding, Instruction 3.7-2.


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