Colour of Traffic light Yellow
This car accident occurred while the claimant was making a left turn from Lougheed Highway onto Kanaka Way  in Maple Ridge, BC. This was an appeal from an order made apportioning 60% of the fault for the accident to the claimant, and 40% of the fault to the respondent, a through driver (Pirie v. Skantz,2016 BCCA 70).
The trial judge found the claimant’s failure to yield the right-of-way to the respondent to be a breach of her statutory duty under s. 174 of the Motor Vehicle Act. The trial judge also found the respondent’s failure to observe the advance warning flashing lights (“AWF”) lights and his decision to drive a loaded trailer at the maximum speed limit on wet roads to be breaches of his statutory duties under sections 125 and 144 of the Act, respectively.

 Overhead “Prepare to Stop” AWF lights available for both directions on Lougheed Highway were equipped with flashing yellow lights that illuminate before the overhead lights at the intersection turn to yellow (from green) and to red (from yellow).

In finding the claimant 60% at fault the trial judge commented, “I find the Plaintiff to be more at fault than the Defendant. I find the Plaintiff to be 60% liable for the collision and the Defendant to be 40% liable.” The Court of Appeal upheld this finding but clarified the duty of left turning vehicles:

[39]   In coming to this conclusion, I recognize, as the trial judge did, that this Court has previously rejected the proposition that the onus placed by s. 174 on a left-turning driver is “absolute” regardless of the circumstances: see, for example, Brucks at paras. 8-10; Kokkinis at para. 7. In my view, these cases stand for the unremarkable proposition that, unless the contrary becomes apparent, left-turning drivers are entitled to assume that through drivers will obey the rules of the road.

[40]         In this case, the trial judge found the appellant misjudged the proximity of the respondent’s vehicle to the intersection when she turned left on the yellow light. She found the appellant knew or ought to have known the respondent constituted an immediate hazard when the turn was attempted. The respondent’s antecedent breach did not deprive the appellant (nor would it have deprived a left-turning driver acting reasonably in her situation) of the ability to recognize that his vehicle constituted an immediate hazard when she commenced the turn. The appellant had an obligation to yield the right of way because the respondent’s vehicle was an immediate hazard and ought to have been recognized by the appellant as such.

Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.


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