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Sometimes mirror-signal-manoeuvre is simply not enough

30th June 2017

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that, where there is particular risk to another road user, a motorist has a duty to make a final check in the mirrors before completing a turn. This may sound like simple common sense to many drivers, but the case of McGeer v McIntosh provides useful clarification of the duty owed by motorists to other road users, especially cyclists and motorcyclists.

The case involved a lorry whose driver, while indicating his intention to turn left, veered to the right in order to complete a tight turn to the left.  Meanwhile a cyclist, cycling along the left-hand side of the road, continued straight on as the lorry completed its turn and was hit by the lorry, sustaining severe injury.

The lorry driver’s insurance company fought his case in court, claiming he had no reason to believe a cyclist would be riding down the inside of the road past a vehicle clearly indicating to the left and that it was unreasonable to expect him to make a final check in his mirrors before completing the turn. However, the court ruled the driver, while not required to keep a constant eye on his rear-view mirrors, should have made a further check immediately before turning left. The lorry driver was deemed to be 70 per cent to blame for the accident and the cyclist 30 per cent at fault for not observing the lorry’s indicator light and for proceeding when it was not clearly safe to do so.

In this instance a mirror-signal-manoeuvre sequence proved insufficient but a mirror-signal-mirror-manoeuvre sequence could have prevented the accident altogether. The case is also important, emphasising that a negligent motorist who injures a vulnerable rider or pedestrian can usually expect to take the lion’s share of blame. After all, a motorist is in charge of a lethal machine and driving such a vehicle carries a particular responsibility proportional to the potential harm that can be caused.

As traffic-related deaths and injuries continue to occur across the UK, McGeer v McIntosh comes as a sobering reminder of the duty we all owe to help make our roads and pavements safer places. We cannot demand the impossible but we should expect all road users to exercise reasonable care.

If you have been affected by a road traffic incident that was not your fault, contact George Ide’s respected and experienced personal injury legal team for confidential advice and support on 01243 876668 or atmailto:info@georgeide.co.uk.

Paul Fretwell. Partner, personal injury department

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