Driver Faultless for Intersection Crash Despite Turning Left on Red
A reality at busy intersections is that drivers, after committing to an intersection on a green light, sometimes need to wait until the light turns red to complete their turn. If a crash occurs in these circumstances a driver can (depending on the specific facts of course) be found faultess for the collision. Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such a scenario.
In this week’s case (Yanakami v. Whittey) the Plaintiff was attempting a left hand turn. She committed to the intersection. After her light turned red vehicles in two of the three oncoming lanes came to a stop. At this time she proceeded to complete her turn. The Defendant, who was travelling in the third oncoming lane, ran the red light and a collision occurred.
Mr. Justice Fitch found the Defendant fully at fault for the crash. In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:
 Against the background of this discussion, I make the following factual findings:
1. the plaintiff began her left turn immediately after the light for east and westbound traffic changed to red;
2. two other vehicles traveling east had come to a stop at the intersection in the curb and centre-line lanes;
3. the plaintiff was cognizant of, and attentive to, the considerations one would expect to be in the mind of a reasonably prudent driver including the colour of the traffic light, the location and speed of oncoming traffic, the location of Mr. Whittey’s vehicle at various points in time, including when the light turned red, and the potential for there to be pedestrians walking to the south in her intended path of travel;
4. Mr. Whittey had ample time to stop before the intersection and do so in safety, just as two other eastbound vehicles had done, when the light changed to yellow;
5. the plaintiff concluded, and was entitled in fact and in law to conclude, that the defendant’s vehicle did not present a hazard, that he had plenty of time stop (as other vehicles had done) and that it was safe for her to proceed with her left turn;
6. the defendant was not being attentive to the factors a reasonably prudent driver would have been attentive to before the collision, including the presence of the plaintiff’s vehicle in the westbound left turn lane immediately in front of him or the fact that a car had already come to a stop ahead of him in the eastbound centre-line lane. This conclusion is supported by the defendant’s own admission that he was not looking at the left turn lane for westbound traffic as he approached the intersection because it was not important for him to do so;
7. Mr. Whittey entered the intersection after the light turned red;
8. the plaintiff could not possibly have taken evasive action at that point to avoid the collision.
 Applying these facts to the applicable law, I am satisfied that this accident was caused solely by the negligent driving of the defendant, Mr. Whittey.