Pedestrians & Drivers Turning Left

Alexander Zacher was walking to work early on the morning of October 31, 2014 in Tsawwassen. He followed the walk signal on 12th Avenue at the intersection of 52nd Street using the marked crosswalk. When he was about two-thirds of the way across he was struck by a left turning vehicle driven by Glenn Prescesky and suffered serious injuries.

Mr. Prescesky did not see Mr. Zacher as he was focused on the far side of the intersection watching for oncoming traffic. When he did become aware, it was too late to avoid the collision.

Mr. Prescesky denied liability for the injuries. It appears from the text of the judgment that his position was based on the fact that Mr. Zacher was wearing dark clothing.

During the trial in B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Affleck cited two previous cases in his reasons for finding Mr. Prescesky to be solely at fault for the collision.

The first, Miksh v Hambleton, holds that once a pedestrian has safely entered the crosswalk, unless they do something negligent such as running into the path of a vehicle, they may assume that drivers will yield the right of way and will not be liable if struck.

The second, Achilleos v Nix and Vancouver Taxi Ltd., finds that "Pedestrians in crosswalks who are proceeding when the “walk” pedestrian sign is illuminated are free to wear whatever colour clothes they feel are appropriate."

On page 83 in Chapter 6 of Learn to Drive Smart drivers are cautioned that pedestrians are often hard to see, especially at night. Don’t enter a crosswalk without checking to see that it’s empty, even when the light is green.

Clearly, the duty of care lies most heavily on the driver.

With Vision Zero in mind, should the function of our traffic signals be revised? If turns to the left and right were not permitted at times when pedestrians are in the adjacent crosswalks this collision would not have occurred. The pedestrian scramble is one example of this type of solution.

Leading pedestrian intervals would not have been much help here. This scheme allows the pedestrian a 3 to 7 second head start to make them more visible to turning drivers. A potential crash reduction of up to 60% is possible when traffic signals are set this way.

Even though Mr. Zacher did everything required by law, he's still the biggest loser in this incident. While he was not required to, there are still precautions that he might have chosen to take in order to protect himself. When you are a vulnerable road user doing more than you have to could pay off.

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Right On!

The judgement was right on with it’s decision. The seconds it would have taken for the driver to slow down and know your not the only one using the road from A - B, compared to the time and anguish it’s taken for this to twirl its way through court.

How can you equate it’s the pedestrians fault when you were looking the other way while in a cross walk for persons crossing the road. Any other judgement would have been blaming the victim for being run over.

This time thankfully we have some that see good reasoning is in order.

Vancouver in the 1950's

In the time when I worked downtown Vancouver in the 1950’s, we had the pedestrian scramble-crosswalks you mention at Granville and Burrard. Also in this century found them in Wakakii!

My friend from England would not use it and went from one corner to the other. Guess who reached the other side first! Diagonally, of course.

Thanks for the memories. Made sense then. Why not now?

Jaywalking to avoid dangerous crosswalks

My neighbour crossing on a walk sign at King George Blvd & 128 St was sent to hospital in a similar incident. When I crossed on a walk sign at traffic lights at a different intersection luckily I was far enough into the crossing that I could jump out of the way of a pickup that suddenly turned left with no warning and no slowing. A slower person would have been badly injured or killed.

I believe it can be safer for a pedestrian to cross the road in between intersections when no traffic is approaching from either direction. Instead of trying to guess whether motor vehicle traffic approaching from 4 directions at an intersection is going to observe the signals and rules, you only have to look carefully in two directions and be patient while waiting on the sidewalk. This approach requires sufficiently long gaps between the platoons of vehicles in both directions, which may not be practical on busy roads and/or busy times. But I do feel safer as a pedestrian "jaywalking" across certain roads. Would I or should I get a ticket for opting for the safer alternative?

I agree with the decision.I

I agree with the decision.

I don't understand the drivers reason for not seeing the pedestrian. Section 174 MVA states that if I am turning left I have to yield to traffic in the intersection or close enough that to turn would require them to take evasive action. If there is no vehicle in sight or it only required the approaching vehicle to slow it is permissible to turn. They have to yield to the turning vehicle.

From the way I read the transcripts he was worried about approaching traffic. Why? He was already far enough into his turn that he hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The crosswalk and people in that area should have been his primary concern.

It also bothers me that someone had to bring speed into this discussion. The speed the driver was going is irrevelant. He could have been creeping at 1/2K/hour and the accident still would have happened. If you are not watching where you are going you are going to hit objects no matter what speed one is travelling. 

I remember the scramble and thought they were excellent. I did read once that people were concerned with the time they had to wait to cross the street. I thought the wait was worth it to be able to go in any direction.


Molly Burton

September 2013 in Comox Valley Molly Burton was hit by a car and lay in the bushes for hours. Since that horrific event I wear a high vis-vest and carry a flashlight walking any time after dusk.

Mr. Tasker just heading out on a crisp Friday morning in October gets plowed under by a driver making the same mistake I've done-concentrating with on-coming traffic.

Thanks for the story, it is a great reminder for me to search for pedestrians first!

While I agree with the decision...

There is a VERY high percentage of pedestrians, who, while crossing a street, don't look at approaching vehicles.  They might look both ways, see a vehicle approaching, assume it's going to stop and then turn their gaze away from the approaching vehicle. It's amazing the number.  Older folks just looking straight ahead, younger ones texting.

Yes, very likely when you get run down while crossing a roadway with a light, in a crosswalk, a judge is going to assess blame to the vehicle, BUT you are the one in hospital recovering from the injuries !

Make eye contact with the driver, have a "eye contact understanding" confirm with the driver that they see you and are going to stop for you. 

I am more often a driver than a pedestrian, but when I'm a pedestrian and a vehicle stops for me, I make eye contact and general nod in appreciation that they stopped.

ALSO, I so wish the very poor quality media (and getting worce by the day) would stop using the term "marked crosswalk" when they describe an incident.  IT DOSEN'T MATTER !  Marked or unmarked crosswalks are exactly the same under the law. !!!

I think, subliminally that indicates to drivers that it isn't as important to stop for a pedestrian who is crossing a street at an intersection where there are no markings on the roadway.

Growing A-pillar problem

A lot can hide behind an A-pillar, so drivers need to make more than a quick glance before a left turn: The Monday Rant: I Can’t See Clearly Now

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