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Motorcyclist Crossing the Centre Line Found Fully Liable for Collision

Reasons for Judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, New Westminster Registry, addressing fault for a two vehicle collision involving a motorcycle and a cube van.
In last week’s case (Hale v. MacEwan) the Plaintiff motorcyclist was travelling southbound on 207th Avenue in Maple Ridge BC when he collided with the Defendant’s vehicle which was travelling in the opposite direction on the two lane street.  While the Court heard competing versions of events Mr. Justice Harvey concluded that the Plaintiff, whose blood alcohol limit was “twice the statutory level of impairment” failed to navigate the ‘hairpin turn” depicted in the below satellite image:

The Plaintiff crossed into the Defendant’s lane of travel and the collision occurred.  The Plaintiff argued that the Defendant was partially to blame for driving “too close to the centre line“.  Mr. Justice Harvey rejected this argument finding that the Defendant was appropriately in his own lane of travel.  In dismissing the claim the Court provided the following reasons:

[59] Here I am able to say with some precision where the accident occurred and the distance of the defendant’s container from the centre line. As noted, I am satisfied he was with in his lane of travel. The negligence of the plaintiff has been made out. He failed to maintain his vehicle within the travelled portion of the roadway for his direction of travel.

[60] The remaining question is this: was the defendant so close, as was the case in Watson, as to make his actions unreasonable?

[61] In concluding that he was not, I distinguish the situation from that which occurred in Watson, to the facts here. Here, the violation by the plaintiff was both unusual and unexpected.

[62] Neither driver testified to a situation which should have caused the defendant to consider that the plaintiff would fail to negotiate the corner. His speed was not an issue and he seemingly, according to all witnesses, had control of his vehicle as he entered the curve…

[67] Here, unlike in Watson, the distance between the outer edge of the van and the centre line was 20-25 cm or 9-10 inches. The front of the van, while not perfectly centered within the defendant’s lane, was set back from the centre line even further.

[68] Whatever contact occurred between the defendant’s mirror, the plaintiff, his passenger, and/or his vehicle, did not occur in the plaintiff’s lane of travel.

[69] To require the defendant to position his vehicle farther from the centre line in anticipation of the negligence of the plaintiff requires a standard of perfection, not reasonableness.

[70] In the result I am satisfied that the accident occurred wholly as a result of the plaintiff’s negligence. The action is dismissed.

bc injury law, Hale v. MacEwan, Mr. Justice Harvey, Section 151 Motor Vehicle Act, Section 151(b) Motor Vehicle Act