The Duty of Motorists Approaching Flashing Green Lights
Further to my recent post discussing this topic, Section 131(5) of the BC Motor Vehicle Act requires a driver approaching a flashing green light to travel with sufficient caution so they can bring their vehicle to a stop should it be necessary. Failure to do so could result in fault for a crash even if another motorist fails to yield the right of way. This was discussed in reasons for judgement released earlier this month by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry.
In the recent case (Lutley v. Southern) the Defendant was attempting to cross Oak Street in Vancouver, BC. The Defendant was travelling on 67th Avenue. She had a stop sign in her direction of travel. At the intersection Oak Street had 6 lanes of travel. The Plaintiff was travelling in the lane furthest away from where the Defendant entered the intersection. As the Plaintiff approached the intersection she was faced with a flashing green light. Neither party saw each other’s vehicle until it was too late and a collision occurred.
(Accident Reconstruction Software courtesy of SmartDraw)
Mr. Justice Rice found both drivers at fault with the Defendant shouldering 60% of the blame. Although the Plaintiff entered the intersection on a green light she was found partly to blame for failing to comply with section 131 of the Motor Vehicle Act. In addressing the issue of fault Mr. Justice Rice provided the following reasons:
 By the Motor Vehicle Act, s. 131(5), a driver approaching a green flashing light at an intersection is obliged to slow down sufficiently to be able to stop before the intersection and avoid an accident. I find that the plaintiff was negligent and in breach of her statutory duties by failing to slow down sufficiently to be able to stop at the intersection. She could see that her vision of the intersection was obstructed and would continue to be obstructed practically until she had reached the intersection itself. She should have applied her brakes as soon as the obstruction appeared and come to practically a stop at or near the intersection.
 By the Motor Vehicle Act, ss. 125, 186 a driver approaching a stop sign must come to a full stop. There is also a general duty to drive safely, maintain a proper lookout, and not to proceed forward until it is safe to do so. I find that the defendant was negligent and in breach of her statutory duty in failing to maintain a proper lookout and by accelerating through the intersection when it was not safe to do so…
 In conclusion, I find that both drivers were negligent and in breach of duties imposed upon them pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 318 at ss. 125, 141. I apportion liability at 60% to the defendant and 40% to the plaintiff.