In Vahman v Cutt et al., 2015 BCSC 298, Mr. Vahman was travelling west on 23rd Avenue in North Vancouver intending to turn left into the parking lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was stopped in a designated left turn lane waiting to turn into the parking lot. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith was travelling eastbound in the curb lane of 23rd Avenue toward Mr. Vahman’s vehicle. Traffic in the center lane of 23rd Avenue had stopped due to traffic congestion, but had left a gap so as to not block access to the KFC parking lot entrance. The motorist who had left the gap gestured to Mr. Vahman to turn in front of him. Mr. Vahman, relying on that gesture, proceeded to turn left through the gap into the parking lot. The Vahman vehicle “popped out” between the vehicles lined up directly in front of Mr. Smith but he was unable to avoid the ensuing collision.
Mr. Vahman argued at trial that Mr. Smith bore some responsibility for the accident as he should have expected someone to turn through the gap. In dismissing the claim, the Court noted that section 166 of the Motor Vehicle Act dictates that a driver must not turn left from a highway unless he or she has ascertained that the movement can be made in safety, having regard to the nature, condition and use of the highway and current traffic, and that even more caution should be exercised if turning left other than at an intersection as the driving public would be less likely to expect those kinds of left turns.
A Gap In Traffic? Proceed with Caution
The Court also found that even if Mr. Smith had been aware of the “gap” in traffic, it would have been unreasonable for him to expect a vehicle would be turning through the line of stopped traffic, and that by proceeding through the “gap” Mr. Vahman was doing so at his own risk.
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