CV601A Motor Vehicle Instruction Notes

Committee Notes

Much of motor vehicle law is governed by statute, and a civil claim for damages will often involve a violation of the Utah Motor Vehicle Code or a municipal or county ordinance. These instructions are general in nature, and, rather than include the regulations in each instruction, the Committee recommends appropriate use of Instruction CV602, Violation of statute, ordinance or safety law. If the trial includes evidence of a violation, the court should supplement the general instruction with CV602, quoting or summarizing the specific subsection(s) – or even parts of subsections – relevant to the evidence.

CV601B Introduction

Under the law, a driver has various duties that [he] must comply with while driving. I will now explain these duties that apply to this case.

CV602 Violation of statute, ordinance or safety law.

A violation of a safety law is evidence of fault unless the violation is excused. [Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] violated a safety law that says:

[Quote or summarize in plain language the statute, ordinance or rule.]

If you decide that [name of defendant] violated this safety law, you must decide whether the violation is excused.

[Name of defendant] claims the violation is excused because:

[(1) Obeying the law would have created an even greater risk of harm.]

[(2) [He] could not obey the law because [he] faced an emergency that [he] did not create.]

[(3) [He] was unable to obey the law despite a reasonable effort to do so.]

[(4) [He] was incapable of obeying the law.]

[(5) [He] was incapable of understanding what the law required.]

Even if a driver complies with a safety law, or is excused from complying with the safety law, the driver must still comply with all other duties that I will explain to you.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-605.
Child v. Gonda, 972 P.2d 425 (Utah 1998).
Hall v. Warren, 692 P.2d 737 (Utah 1984).
Intermountain Farmers Ass’n v. Fitzgerald, 574 P.2d 1162 (Utah 1978).
Thompson v. Ford Motor Co., 16 Utah 2d 30; 395 P.2d 62 (1964).
Gaw v. State ex rel. Dep't of Transp., 798 P.2d 1130 (Utah App. 1990).
Jorgensen v. Issa, 739 P.2d 80 (Utah App. 1987).
See Instruction CV212, Violation of a safety law.

MUJI 1st Instruction


Committee Notes

The safety law applies if:

(1) plaintiff belongs to a class of people that the law is intended to protect; and

(2) the law is intended to protect against the type of harm that occurred as a result of the violation.

The instruction should be modified to include only those excuses for which there is supporting evidence.

CV603 Reasonable care.

A driver has the duty to use reasonable care at all times.

MUJI 1st Instruction

5.1; 5.21

Committee Notes

The court should instruct the jury on the definition of “reasonable care.” See Instruction CV202, Negligence defined.

CV604 Control of vehicle.

A driver has a duty to keep the vehicle under reasonable control and to operate the vehicle so as to avoid danger.


Jorgensen v. Issa, 739 P.2d 80 (Utah Ct. App. 1987)

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV605 Lookout.

A driver has a duty to keep a proper lookout for other traffic and hazards that can be reasonably anticipated.


Henderson v. Meyer, 533 P.2d 290 (Utah 1975).
Wardell v. Jerman, 18 Utah 2d 359, 423 P.2d 485 (1967).

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV606 Following at a safe distance.

A driver has a duty to follow another vehicle at a distance that is reasonable and prudent under all existing conditions and circumstances.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-711.

CV607 Vehicle maintenance.

A [driver/owner] has a duty to [drive/move a vehicle] [allow a vehicle to be driven/moved] on a roadway only if the vehicle is in a safe condition.


Utah Code Section 41 6a 1601.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV608 Speed.

A driver has a duty to drive at a safe speed. The speed limit at the place of this accident was [ __ ] miles per hour. Driving at a speed in excess of the limit may be evidence of fault. However, conditions and circumstances may allow a driver to drive at a [lower/greater] speed with proper regard for existing and potential hazards.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-601.
Anderson v. Bradley, 590 P.2d 339 (Utah 1979).

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV609 Minimum speed.

A driver may not drive at a speed so slow as to interfere with the normal and reasonable movement of traffic unless conditions or circumstances justify a reduced speed for safe operation.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-605.

CV610 Turning/lane change.

A driver may [turn a vehicle/change lanes] only if it can be done with reasonable safety and after giving an appropriate signal.


Utah Code Section 41-6A-804.
Batty v. Mitchell, 575 P.2d 1040 (Utah 1978).

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV611 “Right-of-way” defined.

A [vehicle/pedestrian] has the right-of-way when [he] has the right to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to an approaching [vehicle/pedestrian]. But both a driver and a pedestrian have a continuing duty to use reasonable care for the safety of others and themselves, even when one has the right-of-way over the other.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-102.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV612 Right-of-way. Left turns.

A driver turning left has a duty to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction that is so close it is an immediate hazard.


Utah Code Section 41-6A-903.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV613 Right-of-way. Unregulated intersection.

A driver approaching an intersection not regulated by a traffic control device or stop signs has a duty to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle that is already in the intersection.

When more than one vehicle enters or approaches the intersection at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left has a duty to yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on [his] right.

[However, a driver may not speed up to enter an intersection first.]

[In order for a driver approaching from the left to have the right-of-way, that driver must enter the intersection clearly ahead of the driver approaching from the right.]


Utah Code Section 41-6a-901.

MUJI 1st Instruction


Committee Notes

This instruction would also apply to an intersection regulated from all directions by stop signs.

CV614 Right-of-way. Traffic signals.

A driver who approaches an intersection with a red light has a duty to stop. The driver with the green light has the right to assume that traffic will not enter the intersection against a red light. However, if that driver sees, or in the exercise of reasonable care should see, that another vehicle is going to proceed against the red light, the driver with the green light has a duty to use reasonable care to avoid a collision.


Utah Code Sections 41-6a-304 and -305.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV615 Right-of-way. Flashing red light.

A driver who approaches an intersection with a flashing red light must stop. After stopping, the driver must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard. [The driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.]


Utah Code Section 41-6a-307.
Utah Code Section 41-6a-902.

CV616 Right-of-way. Flashing yellow light.

A driver who approaches an intersection with a flashing yellow light may proceed through the intersection with caution. The driver must yield the right-of-way to [insert factual dispute].


Utah Code Section 41-6a-307.
Utah Code Section 41-6a-902.

CV617 Intoxicated driver.

A driver may not operate a vehicle

[(1) if [he] has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of operation of the vehicle.]

[(2) if [he] is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that the person cannot operate the vehicle safely.]


Utah Code Section 41-6a-502.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV618 Young drivers.

A minor driving a motor vehicle is held to the same standard of care as an adult driver.


Summerhill v. Shipley, 890 P.2d 1042 (Utah App. 1995).

CV619 Drivers approached by emergency vehicle.

When approached by an emergency vehicle using audio or visual warning devices or signals, a driver has a duty to:

(1) yield the right-of-way to the emergency vehicle;

(2) immediately move parallel to, and as close as possible to, the right edge or curb of the roadway, clear of any intersection; and

(3) stop and remain stopped until the emergency vehicle has passed.

In complying with these duties, a driver must use reasonable care under all of the conditions and circumstances.


See Utah Code Section 41-6a-904.

MUJI 1st Instruction


Committee Notes

This instruction assumes that the emergency vehicle is authorized by law in its emergency travel. If authorization is not stipulated to, the court should address this issue as a matter of law or, if a question of fact exists, by additional instructions.

CV620 Emergency vehicle drivers.

You must decide whether [name of emergency vehicle driver] acted reasonably.

The law allows the driver of an emergency vehicle to disregard certain duties if each of the following is true:

(1) if the driver of an emergency vehicle sounds an audible signal or uses emergency lights which are visible from the front of the emergency vehicle, and

(2) the driver was

[(a) responding to, but not returning from, an emergency call.]

[(b) in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law.]

[(c) responding to, but not returning from, a fire alarm.]

If you decide that both of these conditions are true, then [name of emergency vehicle driver] may

[(1) park or stand in the roadway.]

[(2) drive through a stop signal or stop sign, slowing down as needed for safety.]

[(3) exceed the posted speed limit.]

[(4) disregard the duties concerning direction of travel, lane change, or turning.]

[(5) describe any other applicable duty.]

The right to disregard this duty, however, does not relieve [name of emergency vehicle driver] of the duty to operate the emergency vehicle with reasonable care, considering the emergency situation and all other circumstances.


See Utah Code Section 41-6a-212.

MUJI 1st Instruction

5.18; 5.19; 5.20.

Committee Notes

This instruction assumes that the emergency vehicle is authorized by law in its emergency travel. If authorization is not stipulated to, the court should address this issue as a matter of law or, if a question of fact exists, by additional instructions.

CV621 Pedestrians.

A pedestrian must use reasonable care to avoid harm to [himself] and others and to avoid causing an accident.

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV622 Pedestrian crossing a roadway.

To decide whether [name of pedestrian] acted reasonably, you must consider the following:

[(1) A pedestrian crossing a road at any point other than within a marked crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the road.]

[(2) A pedestrian crossing a road other than in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield right-of-way to all vehicles on the road.]

[(3) A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to be an immediate hazard. An “immediate hazard” exists whenever a reasonable pedestrian would realize that [he] would be in danger.]


See Utah Code Section 41-6a-1002 and Section41-6a-1003.

MUJI 1st Instruction

5.22; 5.23

Committee Notes

If the case calls for alternative (2), a definition of unmarked crosswalk should be given, see Utah Code Section 41-6a-102(a).

CV623 Right-of-way toward pedestrians.

If traffic signals are [not in place/not in operation], a driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian:

(1) if the pedestrian is in a crosswalk on the half of the road where the driver is traveling, or

(2) if the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the road as to be in danger.


See Utah Code Section 41-6a-1002(1)(a).

CV624 Pedestrian signals.

When pedestrian traffic control signals exist, a pedestrian has the following rights and duties:

(1) A pedestrian facing a steady “Walk” or “Walking Person” signal has the right-of-way and may cross the road in the direction of the signal.

(2) A pedestrian facing a flashing or steady “Don’t Walk” or “Upraised Hand” signal may not start to cross the road in the direction of the signal, but a pedestrian who has started crossing keeps the right-of-way while continuing to a [sidewalk/safety island].


See Utah Code Section 41-6a-306.

MUJI 1st Instruction


Committee Notes

The judge should adjust this instruction if the pedestrian signal uses a different technology or the case is controlled by a local ordinance. See e.g., Section 12.32.055 of the Salt Lake City Traffic Code.

CV625 Driving near children.

A driver must anticipate the ordinary behavior of children and must be more careful when children are present than when only adults are present.


Woodward v. Spring Canyon Coal Co. 90 Utah 578, 63 P.2d 267 (Utah 1936).
Rivas v. Pacific Finance Co. 16 Utah 2d 183, 397 P.2d 990 (1964).
Kilpack v. Wignall 604 P2d 462, 1979 Utah Lexis 953 (Utah 1979).
See Instruction CV204, Care required when children are present.

CV626 Bicyclist.

A bicyclist must use reasonable care to operate [his] bicycle safely under the circumstances, both for [his] own safety and for the safety of others. However, a driver should be more cautious when [he] knows or should know a bicyclist is riding in the vicinity.


Utah Code Sections 41-6a-1101 to -1114, 41-6a-706.5.
Utah Code Sections 41-6a-102(4), (34), (42).

CV627 Bicycles. Three-foot rule.

A driver may not drive within three feet of a moving bicycle, unless it is necessary to drive closer and it can be done safely.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-706.5.

CV628 Real property owner to remove obstruction impairing view.

A property-owner has a duty to remove from [his] property any part of a tree, plant, shrub or other obstruction, that creates a traffic hazard by obstructing the view of a driver on a roadway.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-216.
Jones v. Bountiful, 834 P.2d 556, (Utah App 1992)

CV629 Assuming obedience to law.

A driver has a right to assume that others will obey the law and exercise reasonable care, unless there is a good reason to believe otherwise.


Mulbach v. Hertig, 15 Utah 2d 121, 388 P.2d 414 (1964)
Quick v. Crane, 111 Idaho 759, 727 P.2d 1187 (1986)

MUJI 1st Instruction


CV630 Owner who allows minor to drive.

[[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of owner] gave [name of driver] permission to drive the vehicle. [Name of owner] denies giving permission. You must decide whether [name of owner] gave [name of driver] permission to drive.]

The owner of a vehicle who knowingly permits a person under age 18 to drive [his] vehicle [or a person who gives or furnishes a vehicle to a person under the age of 18] is responsible for that driver’s fault, regardless of how cautious the [owner, giver or furnisher] may have been. If you find that the driver is at fault, any judgment will be applied fully against both the driver and the vehicle owner.


Utah Code Section 53-3-212.
Dixon v. Stewart, 658 P.2d 591 (Utah 1982).

MUJI 1st Instruction


Committee Notes

The judge may instruct the jury on this point of law even if the owner stipulates that he gave the driver permission to drive.

The separate imputed liability addressed in Utah Code Section 53-3-211 seldom results in jury trial issues, and also involves insurance issues. As a result, such issues are normally resolved by the court, often in pre-trial motions. This Instruction does not attempt to address section -211.

CV631 Negligent entrustment.

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of owner] was negligent in allowing [name of driver] to drive the vehicle. [Name of owner] is responsible for the harm to [name of plaintiff] if all of the following are true:

(1) [Name of owner] owns the vehicle.

(2) [Name of owner] permitted [name of driver] to drive the vehicle.

(3) At the time [name of owner] gave permission to drive, [he] knew that [name of driver] was a [careless, reckless, incompetent, inexperienced, intoxicated] driver.

(4) [Name of driver] was negligent in driving the vehicle.

(5) [Name of driver]’s negligence caused the accident.


Wilcox v. Wunderlich, 73 Utah 1, 272 P 207 (1928).
Lane v. Messer, 731 P.2d 488 (Utah 1986).
Am Jur 2d Automobiles and Highway Traffic § 617

Committee Notes

Liability for negligent entrustment is not imputed liability; rather, it is independent negligence for the act of entrustment. Therefore, the jury should apportion fault to the negligent entrustment tortfeasor pursuant to UCA 78B-5-818, -819 and -820.

CV632 Threshold.

[Name of defendant] claims that [name of plaintiff] has not met the threshold injury requirements and therefore cannot recover non-economic damages.

A person may recover non-economic damages resulting from an automobile accident only if [he] has:

[(1) permanent disability or permanent impairment based on objective findings.] or

[(2) permanent disfigurement.] or

[(3) reasonable and necessary medical expenses in excess of $3,000.]


Utah Code Section 31A-22-309(1)(a).

Committee Notes

Neither the statute nor case law has provided clear boundaries on the definitions of disability and impairment. It is also undecided whether the plaintiff or the defendant who asserts the defense carries the burden of proof or burden of moving forward.

CV633 Police officer testimony.

A police officer may testify as a fact witness or as an expert witness or both.

If the police officer testified about what [he] saw, about [his] observations of the accident scene or the individuals or vehicles involved, or about [his] interviews of the parties or witnesses, the officer was testifying as a fact witness.

If the officer offered opinions based on [his] education, training, or experience, [he] was testifying as an expert witness.

In either case, you should evaluate the officer’s testimony the same as you would the testimony of any other fact or expert witness and give the testimony the weight you think it deserves. You should not give a police officer’s testimony greater weight simply because [he] is a police officer.


URE 416, 608, 612, 613, 701-705.

Committee Notes

This instruction is a practical answer to one of the most common questions posed by jurors in motor vehicle accident trials: Whether to defer to the police officer’s assessment of the accident and the issuance of a traffic ticket. The instruction results from the Committee’s extensive experience in jury trials involving motor vehicle accidents, and interviewing jurors after their verdicts. This instruction is not based on any specific Utah case law regarding police officer testimony, but instead, represents the Committee’s unanimous view of the proper application of the Utah Rules of Evidence to police officer testimony.

CV634 Insurance.

You should not consider sources of payment for bills that [name of plaintiff] has incurred, nor how the verdict in this case will be paid. If you have heard or seen any references to insurance during this trial, that information should not be a factor one way or the other in your decision-making. You should not speculate about whether a party had insurance, did not have insurance, nor the amount of insurance, if any. Doing so might produce a verdict which is not based on the evidence.


C.R. Owens Trucking Corp. v. Stewart, 29 Utah 2d 353, 509 P2d 821 (1973).
Robinson v. Hreinson, 17 Utah 2d 261, 409 P2d 121 (1965).
Ivie v. Richardson, 9 Utah 2d 5, 336 P2d 781 (1959).
Morrison v. Perry, 104 Utah 151, 140 P2d 772 (1943).
Gibbs M. Smith, Inc. v. U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co., 949 P2d 337 (Utah 1997).
URE 411.

Committee Notes

The Committee unanimously agreed on the need to address insurance in motor vehicle accident cases, given the ubiquitous nature of automobile insurance and jurors’ knowledge of such, the frequency with which insurance is introduced at trial either intentionally or inadvertently, and the inclination of jurors to speculate about insurance coverage during deliberation.

CV635 Seatbelt usage.

You must decide this case without regard to whether you believe that a [seatbelt/child restraint device] was used or not used by any party in this case. If you have heard or if you believe that any party in this case used or did not use a [seatbelt/child restraint device], you should not consider such information in deciding a verdict.


Utah Code Section 41-6a-1806.

Committee Notes

While Utah Code Section 41-6a-1806 does not allow evidence of seatbelt nonuse with respect to issues of negligence, injuries, or the mitigation of damages, some members of the committee believe that this statute does not entirely prohibit evidence of seat belt usage. These members believe that evidence of seatbelt nonuse may be admissible for purposes outside of those restricted by the statute, such as explaining the accident sequence, causation, or vehicle design safety. See Utah R. Evid. 105 (evidence may be admissible for one purpose but not for another and “the court shall restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly”).

The issue of seatbelt evidence is particularly relevant in crashworthiness cases. In Whitehead v. American Motor Sales Corp., 801 P.2d 920, 928 (Utah 1990), a case involving allegations of defective vehicle design, the Utah Supreme Court held that evidence of how the presence of seatbelts affected the design safety of the vehicle should be admitted. Thus, in crashworthiness or design defect cases, seatbelt evidence should be admitted at least on the issue of overall vehicle design. Id.

Whether this instruction is appropriate must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.