CASE LAW - St. Denis v Turner

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThis case arises from a two vehicle collision that occurred at the intersection of 200 Street and 62 Avenue in Surrey. It involves a car driven southbound on 200 Street, turning left onto 62 Avenue and a car driven northbound on 200 Street in the right hand or curb lane. Traffic in the left and middle lanes of 200 Street northbound was at a standstill due to congestion.

Ryan Turner was encouraged to make his left turn by the drivers who had stopped and left a gap in the northbound lanes waving him on. He proceeded slowly across 200 Street in that gap.

Mary St. Denis approached the intersection traveling northbound on 200 Street at a speed at or just under the posted speed of 60 km/h in the curb lane. She did not see Mr. Turner and collided with his vehicle without braking.

Mr. Justice Funt examined the duties of drivers approaching intersections in these circumstances. He found that neither driver had a clear view of the intersection as they entered it. Mr. Turner failed to yield the right of way and Ms. St. Denis entered the intersection without exercising reasonable care.

He assigned 60% of the liability for the crash to Mr. Turner and 40% to Ms. St. Denis.



Interesting case, for a couple of reasons.

Generally speaking, when this type of collision is reported to ICBC, they will simply place 75% (or more) of the blame on the left-turning vehicle. In this case, the judge's arbitration of 60/40 responsibility is much more appropriate. 

Something I always try to convey to drivers is that crashes rarely happen involving another road user that the driver has already seen and identified as a potential conflict. Crashes happen involving the pedestrian, cyclist, or vehicle that hadn't been identified as a potential problem soon enough to avoid the collision.

This is a classic example. And it's entirely preventable.

I would question whether, even today, Mr Turner has learned how far he can move his vehicle forward (in order to see and be seen) without feeling the need to 'stomp on it' to minimize this visual ignorance. But hopefully, Ms St Denis has learned about reducing speed and covering the brake, instead of zipping through the intersection without having looked for all possible conflicts beforehand.


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