Road Safety Week, 2019
This week is the Brake charity’s Road Safety Week, a good opportunity for us all, as road users, to think about how safely we drive, ride, walk or run.
The nature and extent of our duty of care to each other very much depends upon specific circumstances. Judges are sometimes criticised for their findings. The Supreme Court’s recent Brexit related ruling is an example. Taking a closer look at a case from a judge’s perspective can therefore be illuminating.
In Scott v Gavin (June 2106), a “very drunk” man had been walking along the pavement. He had ignored a crossing place, before suddenly running into the road towards an oncoming moped, which struck him. The moped rider was travelling at around the 30mph speed limit, although it was argued on behalf of the pedestrian that had he been travelling at 20mph, a collision could have been avoided. The court ruled that the moped rider was doing nothing wrong. He was travelling at the speed limit on a long straight section of road with no visible hazards. It was not foreseeable that the pedestrian would suddenly run out, at some distance from the crossing, so the rider was under no duty to slow down in advance. When the man did run out, the rider took evasive action, braking and steering to try to avoid him, but a collision was inevitable. The court held it was entirely the pedestrian’s fault.
The case outcome may well have been different if, for example, the pedestrian was knocked down whilst crossing the road near or at the crossing point. Road users are of course expected to anticipate potential hazards and slow down ready to brake and stop if necessary. Courts are (as a rule) sensible, and do not expect the impossible of people. At the same time, it is recognised that a driver is in control of a potentially dangerous ‘weapon’ and must often take the lion’s share of blame if a pedestrian, who is there to be seen, is struck and injured.
We should all, as road users, think about how safe we are: do we ever take a chance when pulling out, not slow down for a crossing, or perhaps even allow our dog a long lead on a cycle path? Road Safety Week is a good opportunity — not only to reflect but also to act — to help make our roads and paths safer.
General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog