Stopping Distance Behind Other Vehicles

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThe case of Danks v Middelveen arises from a three vehicle collision at the intersection of the Lougheed Highway and Harris Road in Pitt Meadows. A point of interest in the case involves the stopping distance behind other vehicles when everyone is waiting for the traffic lights to change.

Circumstances of the Crash

In this incident the Danks family had stopped their pickup in the left turn lane to wait with other traffic for the signal to turn green. Mr. Middelveen stopped his pickup behind the Danks vehicle and was also waiting.

Ming Zhang approached the line of stopped traffic and ran into the back of the Middelveen vehicle. This collision pushed the Middelveen pickup into the rear of the Danks pickup causing another crash.

Clearly at Fault

Justice Kirchner was asked to determine liability for the incident. He found that Ms. Zang was clearly at fault and that there was no fault on the part of Mr. Danks.

Contributory Negligence

Ms. Danks argued that Mr. Middleveen was contributorily negligent because he was an experienced driver and had failed to leave enough distance beween his pickup and the Danks pickup when he stopped.

image crash caused by insufficient stopping distance between cars

Justice Kirchner said that:

[34]       I am not persuaded that Mr. Middelveen’s actions fell below the standard of care. As an experienced driver, his assessment of having “enough space” and at a safe distance is likely a better indication of the amount of space than his estimate of “at least three feet.” Counsel has provided no authority indicating that a driver in Mr. Middelveen’s position is negligent and liable in the circumstances. It may well be that a driver who stops too close to the car in front puts the occupants of that car in danger but I am not persuaded that is what Mr. Middelveen did.

Safe Stopping Distance

Many drivers fail to consider this in my experience. I was taught that when I stopped behind another vehicle I must at least be able to see pavement between the back tires of the vehicle in front of me and the hood of my vehicle.

This served two purposes; I would not be pushed into the vehicle ahead of me in a situation like this one and it would give me room to move out of the way if overtaken by an emergency vehicle needing the right of way.

Share This Article