05 Dec Be Responsible When Turning Left

In the case of Ratelle v. Barton, 2017 BCSC 1262, the Court was asked to determine who was responsible for a motorcycle accident near Whistler.

The Plaintiff and a friend were riding their motorcycles north of Whistler on Highway 99, heading to Pemberton.  They rode together in a staggered fashion, avoiding the oil slick in the middle of the road.

A Cadillac driven by the Defendant turned left onto the highway ahead of the two motorcyclists, and the Plaintiff and his friend travelled behind it for some time.  After several kilometers, the parties reached a 500-metre stretch in the highway before Heliport Road intersects the highway.  The speed limit along this stretch increased from 60 km/h to 90 km/h.  Following the last curve before arriving at Heliport Road, the Defendant moved slightly over to the right shoulder white line while maintaining a speed of 60 km/h to 65 km/h.

The Plaintiff took the Cadillac’s slow pace and its place on the right side of the lane as an indication that he was being invited to pass.  Accordingly, he shoulder-checked behind him, looked ahead and saw no oncoming traffic, and proceeded to move into the oncoming lane.  While the Plaintiff was doing his shoulder-check and then looking at his friend, his friend was in fact preparing to pass the Cadillac himself.   The Plaintiff passed his friend and made eye contact, ensuring that he observed him going into the oncoming lane to pass the Cadillac.  The Cadillac suddenly turned left at Heliport Road without signaling and the Plaintiff collided with the Cadillac.  The friend had to swerve to the right to avoid being part of the collision.   The Plaintiff was thrown over the Cadillac and into the ditch.

The Plaintiff and his friend were adamant that they never saw the Defendant’s turn signal.  At the scene, the friend asked the Defendant repeatedly why he did not have his turn signal on and the Defendant never responded.

The Court concluded that the Defendant was 100 percent at fault for the accident.  Had the Defendant checked his mirrors during the drive, signaled his intention to turn left by putting on his turn indicator or shoulder-checked to determine that it was clear and safe to turn, this accident would not have happened.  The Court found the Defendant was driving without due care and attention and without reasonable consideration for others on the highway, in breach of the Motor Vehicle Act.

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