Missouri

Chapter 304 
Traffic Regulations 
Section 304.010 

Definitions–maximum speed limits–cities, towns, villages, certain counties, may set speed limit, how set–slower speeds set, when–violations, penalty.

304.010. 1. As used in this section, the following terms mean:

(1) “Expressway”, a divided highway of at least ten miles in length with four or more lanes which is not part of the federal interstate system of highways which has crossovers or accesses from streets, roads or other highways at the same grade level as such divided highway;

(2) “Freeway”, a limited access divided highway of at least ten miles in length with four or more lanes which is not part of the federal interstate system of highways which does not have any crossovers or accesses from streets, roads or other highways at the same grade level as such divided highway within such ten miles of divided highway;

(3) “Rural interstate”, that part of the federal interstate highway system that is not located in an urban area;

(4) “Urbanized area”, an area of fifty thousand population at a density at or greater than one thousand persons per square mile.

2. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the uniform maximum speed limits are and no vehicle shall be operated in excess of the speed limits established pursuant to this section:

(1) Upon the rural interstates and freeways of this state, seventy miles per hour;

(2) Upon the rural expressways of this state, sixty-five miles per hour;

(3) Upon the interstate highways, freeways or expressways within the urbanized areas of this state, sixty miles per hour;

(4) All other roads and highways in this state not located in an urbanized area and not provided for in subdivisions (1) to (3) of this subsection, sixty miles per hour;

(5) All other roads provided for in subdivision (4) of this subsection shall not include any state two-lane road which is identified by letter. Such lettered roads shall not exceed fifty-five miles per hour unless set at a higher speed as established by the department of transportation, except that no speed limit shall be set higher than sixty miles per hour;

(6) For the purposes of enforcing the speed limit laws of this state, it is a rebuttable presumption that the posted speed limit is the legal speed limit.

3. On any state road or highway where the speed limit is not set pursuant to a local ordinance, the highways and transportation commission may set a speed limit higher or lower than the uniform maximum speed limit provided in subsection 2 of this section, if a higher or lower speed limit is recommended by the department of transportation. The department of public safety, where it believes for safety reasons, or to expedite the flow of traffic a higher or lower speed limit is warranted, may request the department of transportation to raise or lower such speed limit, except that no speed limit shall be set higher than seventy miles per hour.

4. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 304.120 or any other provision of law to the contrary, cities, towns and villages may regulate the speed of vehicles on state roads and highways within such cities’, towns’ or villages’ corporate limits by ordinance with the approval of the state highways and transportation commission. Any reduction of speed in cities, towns or villages shall be designed to expedite the flow of traffic on such state roads and highways to the extent consistent with public safety. The commission may declare any ordinance void if it finds that such ordinance is:

(1) Not primarily designed to expedite traffic flow; and

(2) Primarily designed to produce revenue for the city, town or village which enacted such ordinance.

If an ordinance is declared void, the city, town or village shall have any future proposed ordinance approved by the highways and transportation commission before such ordinance may take effect.

5. The county commission of any county of the second, third or fourth classification may set the speed limit or the weight limit or both the speed limit and the weight limit on roads or bridges on any county, township or road district road in the county and, with the approval of the state highways and transportation commission, on any state road or highway not within the limits of any incorporated city, town or village, lower than the uniform maximum speed limit as provided in subsection 2 of this section where the condition of the road or the nature of the area requires a lower speed. The maximum speed limit set by the county commission of any county of the second, third, or fourth classification for any road under the commission’s jurisdiction shall not exceed fifty-five miles per hour if such road is properly marked by signs indicating such speed limit. If the county commission does not mark the roads with signs indicating the speed limit, the speed limit shall be fifty miles per hour. The commission shall send copies of any order establishing a speed limit or weight limit on roads and bridges on a county, township or road district road in the county to the chief engineer of the state department of transportation, the superintendent of the state highway patrol and to any township or road district maintaining roads in the county. After the roads have been properly marked by signs indicating the speed limits and weight limits set by the county commission, the speed limits and weight limits shall be of the same effect as the speed limits provided for in subsection 1 of this section and shall be enforced by the state highway patrol and the county sheriff as if such speed limits and weight limits were established by state law.

6. The county commission of any county of the second, third, or fourth classification may by ordinance set a countywide speed limit on roads within unincorporated areas of any county, township, or road district in the county and may establish reasonable speed regulations for motor vehicles within the limit of such county. No person who is not a resident of such county and who has not been within the limits thereof for a continuous period of more than forty-eight hours shall be convicted of a violation of such ordinances, unless it is shown by competent evidence that there was posted at the place where the boundary of such county road enters the county a sign displaying in black letters not less than four inches high and one inch wide on a white background the speed fixed by such county so that such signs may be clearly seen by operators and drivers from their vehicles upon entering such county. The commission shall send copies of any order establishing a countywide speed limit on a county, township, or road district road in the county to the chief engineer of the Missouri department of transportation, the superintendent of the state highway patrol, and to any township or road district maintaining roads in the county. After the boundaries of the county roads entering the county have been properly marked by signs indicating the speed limits set by the county commission, the speed limits shall be of the same effect as the speed limits provided for in subsection 1 of this section and shall be enforced by the state highway patrol and the county sheriff as if such speed limits were established by state law.

7. All road signs indicating speed limits or weight limits shall be uniform in size, shape, lettering and coloring and shall conform to standards established by the department of transportation.

8. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to alter any speed limit set below fifty-five miles per hour by any ordinance of any county, city, town or village of the state adopted before March 13, 1996.

9. The speed limits established pursuant to this section shall not apply to the operation of any emergency vehicle as defined in section 304.022.

10. A violation of the provisions of this section shall not be construed to relieve the parties in any civil action on any claim or counterclaim from the burden of proving negligence or contributory negligence as the proximate cause of any accident or as the defense to a negligence action.

11. Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a class C misdemeanor, unless such person was exceeding the posted speed limit by twenty miles per hour or more then it is a class B misdemeanor.

(RSMo 1939 § 8383, A.L. 1957 p. 631, A.L. 1965 pp. 95, 594, A.L. 1969 H.B. 46 & 483, A.L. 1972 H.B. 1297, A.L. 1979 S.B. 44, A.L. 1985 H.B. 288, et al. merged with S.B. 408, A.L. 1987 S.B. 83, A.L. 1991 H.B. 25, A.L. 1995 H.B. 717, A.L. 1996 H.B. 1047, A.L. 2004 H.B. 795, et al.)

 

(1960) A railroad track itself is a warning of danger and a highway traveler must exercise the highest degree of care in crossing the track. A motorist approaching a railroad crossing with which he is familiar who fails to look or to see that which is plainly visible if he performs his duty to look, is contributorily negligent. Pipes v. Mo. Pacific Railroad Co. (Mo.), 338 S.W.2d 30.

(1960) Where information used some of the language of the statute in charging careless and reckless driving and went on to particularized saying that the vehicle was operated at a high rate of speed, weaving back and forth across the road and running through city stop signs, while not recommended for future use, held sufficient as an information. State v. Tevis (A.), 340 S.W.2d 415.

(1961) Operator of motor vehicle about to drive across railroad tracks on which a train is approaching is required to exercise the highest degree of care for his own safety. Reedy v. Missouri -Kansas-Texas Ry. Co. (Mo.), 347 S.W.2d 111.

(1961) Every operator of a motor vehicle has a duty to exercise the highest degree of care and such care includes the warning of other motorists on the highway while the vehicle is stopped on the paved portion of the road after the vehicle had stalled and ceased to run. Phillips v. Stockman (A.), 351 S.W.2d 464.

(1961) On trial for violating speed regulations under this section evidence as to prior conviction of offense committed subsequent to the offense for which the accused was on trial held admissible in evidence. State v. Hunt (A.), 352 S.W.2d 57.

(1962) Wife, seated in right front seat of car her husband left parked with the motor running, who in moving over to make room for another occupant accidentally stepped on accelerator causing car to lunge forward and crash through store, injuring plaintiff, became operator of the car within meaning of statute. Hay v. Ham (A.), 364 S.W.2d 118.

(1965) This section is designed to prevent danger and it is unnecessary for the state to show that any specific person was actually put in danger in order to sustain a conviction. State v. McNail (A.), 389 S.W.2d 214.

(1965) Information failing to state that offense occurred on a highway did not charge a crime. State v. Bartlett (A.), 394 S.W.2d 434.

(1966) Duty of a motorist to use the highest degree of care is not limited to the paved portion of a highway, but extends to the shoulder of the highway. Ely v. Parsons (A.), 399 S.W.2d 613.

(1966) To fulfill his statutory duty to exercise the highest degree of care at all times and to keep a careful and vigilant lookout for other persons and vehicles on the highway, a motorist is required to look in such an observant manner as to enable him to see that which a person in the exercise of the highest degree of care would be expected to see under similar circumstances, and he must be held to have seen what looking would have revealed. Weathers v. Falstaff Brewing Corp. (A.), 403 S.W.2d 663.

(1968) Failure to yield the right-of-way is specifically denounced as an offense, but an information charging careless and imprudent driving by failure to yield the right-of-way at a place where required by statute to do so, includes the offense as descriptive of what happened and in what manner defendant drove imprudently. State v. Richards (A.), 429 S.W.2d 351.

(1971) Information failing to state that offense occurred on a highway did not charge a crime. State v. Rollins (A.), 469 S.W.2d 46.

(1972) To constitute careless and imprudent driving there must be conduct which shows under all the existing circumstances and conditions that the property of another or the life or limb of any person is endangered; therefore, evidence that defendant spun his car around two or three times in intersection, making tires squeal and throwing rocks, was insufficient to support conviction of the offense. State v. Todd (A.), 477 S.W.2d 725.

(1977) This section does not impose a duty to exercise the highest degree of care to save all persons from harm proximately resulting from operation of motor vehicles. Ford v. Monroe (A.), 559 S.W.2d 759.

(1984) Offense of careless and imprudent driving is not the “same offense” for double jeopardy purposes as a manslaughter charge. State v. Noerper (Mo. App. E.D.), 674 S.W.2d 100.

(1984) Director of revenue may not assess points for speeding violations on state limited access highways within city limits, if the city ordinance violates, duplicates or concurs with the state set limits. Knierim v. James (Mo. banc), 677 S.W.2d 322.

(1990) Motorist stopped on roadway to repair an automobile is considered to be “operating” an automobile within the provision requiring the highest degree of care. Phillips v. United States, 743 F.Supp. 681 (E.D.Mo.).

(1993) Where high speed chase by law enforcement officers resulted in one civilian death and substantial property damage and personal injury to others, statute that provides some regulations for operation of emergency vehicles does not create duty to particular individuals as distinguished from general public; therefore duty created is to public and not to individuals. Boyle v. City of Liberty, Mo., 833 F.Supp. 1436 (W.D. Mo.).

 

Chapter 304 
Traffic Regulations 
Section 304.012 

Motorists to exercise highest degree of care–violation, penalty.

304.012. 1. Every person operating a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.

2. Any person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a class B misdemeanor, unless an accident is involved then it shall be a class A misdemeanor.

(L. 1996 H.B. 1047)

Effective 3-13-96

*No continuity with § 304.012 as repealed by L. 1987 S.B. 83.

(2002) Riding lawn mower is considered a motor vehicle under section. Stonger ex rel. Stonger v. Riggs, 85 S.W.3d 703 (Mo.App. W.D.).