AMI 901 Common Law Rules of Road—Lookout—Control—Speed
Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 901
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
December 2023 Update
Chapter 9. Rules of the Road
AMI 901 Common Law Rules of Road—Lookout—Control—Speed
In determining whether the driver of a motor vehicle was negligent, you may consider the following [rule][two][three][rules of the road]:
A. [First] It is the duty of the driver of a motor vehicle to keep a lookout for other vehicles or persons on the street or highway. The lookout required is that which a reasonably careful driver would keep under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence in this case.
B. [Second] It is the duty of the driver of a motor vehicle to keep [his][her] vehicle under control. The control required is that which a reasonably careful driver would maintain under circumstances similar to those shown by the evidence in this case.
[(When the driver sees danger)(or)(when danger would be reasonably apparent to the driver who is keeping a proper lookout)(or)(when the driver is warned of approaching imminent danger), then [he][she] is required to use ordinary care to have [his][her] vehicle under such control as to be able to check its speed or stop it, if necessary, to avoid damage to [himself][herself] or others.]
C. [Third] It is the duty of the driver of a motor vehicle to drive at a speed no greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances, having due regard for any actual or potential hazards.
A failure to meet the standard of conduct required by [this rule][either of these two rules][any of these three rules] is negligence.
NOTE ON USE
When a parking lot or other area is involved, substitute appropriate phrase for “on the street or highway.”
The first paragraph will be used in virtually every case. The first and second paragraphs should be combined only when the evidence involves an imminent danger or threatened emergency. The third clause in parentheses should be inserted only when warning signs or signals are involved or when there is evidence of some other type of warning.
Although this common law rule is codified in Ark. Code Ann. § 27-51-201(a)(1), it should not be given within the format of AMI 903 because the statute is a codification of the common law duty to use ordinary care.
This instruction is based on the holding in Wright v. Covey, 233 Ark. 798, 349 S.W.2d 344 (1961). It was cited with approval in Smith v. Stevens, 313 Ark. 534, 855 S.W.2d 323 (1993) and Courson v. Chandler, 258 Ark. 904, 529 S.W.2d 864 (1975).
This instruction applies to cases involving the operation of vehicles on parking lots. Cantlin v. Pavlovich, 265 Ark. 654, 580 S.W.2d 190 (1979).
Paragraph A of this instruction was cited with approval in Druckenmiller v. Cluff, 316 Ark. 517, 873 S.W.2d 526 (1994).
Proper lookout implies being watchful of one’s own vehicle, as well as the movement of the things seen, and may require a lookout to the rear. Wingate Taylor–Maid Transp., Inc. v. Baker, 310 Ark. 731, 840 S.W.2d 179 (1992); Cobb v. Atkins, 239 Ark. 151, 388 S.W.2d 8 (1965).
Paragraph B of this instruction is based on the holdings in Missouri Pac. Transp. Co. v. Miller, 227 Ark. 351, 299 S.W.2d 41 (1957); Lockhart v. Ross, 191 Ark. 743, 87 S.W.2d 73 (1935); Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Blytheville v. Doud, 189 Ark. 986, 76 S.W.2d 87 (1934) and Craighead v. Missouri Pac. Transp. Co., 195 F.2d 652 (8th Cir. 1952). It was cited with approval in Druckenmiller v. Cluff, 316 Ark. 517, 873 S.W.2d 526 (1994).
The last sentence in Note on Use—Paragraph B was approved in White v. Brewer, 295 Ark. 666, 750 S.W.2d 956 (1988).
The court held it to be improper to refuse the second paragraph of Paragraph B when there is a busy industrial street, along with children who habitually play in that vicinity in Moore v. Rye, 255 Ark. 469, 500 S.W.2d 751 (1973). The court has held it to be proper to give the second paragraph of Paragraph B in the following situations: when there is dense smoke along a highway, East Texas Motor Freight Lines, Inc. v. Freeman, 289 Ark. 539, 713 S.W.2d 456 (1986), and when vehicles are blocking a highway, White v. Brewer, supra.
The court has held it was improper to give the second paragraph of Paragraph B in the following situations: when there is a traffic light at an intersection, Berry v. Chapple, 309 Ark. 612, 832 S.W.2d 256 (1992); when a driver sees a pedestrian standing in a position of apparent safety near the center of the street, Rogers v. Kelly, 284 Ark. 50, 679 S.W.2d 184 (1984); when a driver is faced with an unexpected emergency, which could not be reasonably anticipated, Home Ins. Co. v. Harwell, 263 Ark. 884, 568 S.W.2d 17 (1978), and when a vehicle is waiting to make a lefthand turn, Reed v. McGibboney, 243 Ark. 789, 422 S.W.2d 115 (1967).
A driver is not required to exercise such control at all times as would enable him to stop at any given time. See Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Blytheville v. Doud, supra, and Craighead v. Missouri Pac. Transp. Co., supra.
Violation of a common law rule requiring the exercise of ordinary care is negligence; violation of a statutory rule is only evidence of negligence (AMI 903). The Committee has found no authority for the view that incorporation of a common law rule defining the duty to use ordinary care within a statute modifies or reduces the effect of the common law rule, and logically it would not seem to do so. See Wright v. Covey, 233 Ark. 798, 349 S.W.2d 344 (1961). Moreover, Bona v. S.R. Thomas Auto Co., 137 Ark. 217, 208 S.W. 306 (1919), holds that a driver is under a duty to control his speed “aside from any statutory provisions.”
When there was no evidence that the driver had been driving unreasonably fast, Paragraph C was properly refused. Rathbun v. Ward, 315 Ark. 264, 866 S.W.2d 403 (1993).
© 2023 Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions-Civil
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