Drivesmart column: Liability: pedestrians and drivers turning left

Alexander Zacher was walking to work early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014 in Tsawwassen.

By Tim Schewe

Alexander Zacher was walking to work early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014 in Tsawwassen. He followed the walk signal on 12th Avenue at the intersection of 52nd Street using the marked crosswalk. When he was about two-thirds of the way across he was struck by a left turning vehicle driven by Glenn Prescesky and suffered serious injuries.

Mr. Prescesky did not see Mr. Zacher as he was focused on the far side of the intersection watching for oncoming traffic. When he did become aware, it was too late to avoid the collision.

Mr. Prescesky denied liability for the injuries. It appears from the text of the judgment that his position was based on the fact that Mr. Zacher was wearing dark clothing.

During the trial in B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. Justice Affleck cited two previous cases in his reasons for finding Mr. Prescesky to be solely at fault for the collision.

The first, Miksh v Hambleton, holds that once a pedestrian has safely entered the crosswalk, unless they do something negligent such as running into the path of a vehicle, they may assume that drivers will yield the right of way and will not be liable if struck.

The second, Achilleos v Nix and Vancouver Taxi Ltd., finds that “Pedestrians in crosswalks who are proceeding when the ‘walk’ pedestrian sign is illuminated are free to wear whatever colour clothes they feel are appropriate.”

On page 83 in Chapter 6 of Learn to Drive Smart drivers are cautioned that pedestrians are often hard to see, especially at night. Don’t enter a crosswalk without checking to see that it’s empty, even when the light is green.

Clearly, the duty of care lies most heavily on the driver.

With Vision Zero in mind, should the function of our traffic signals be revised? If turns to the left and right were not permitted at times when pedestrians are in the adjacent crosswalks this collision would not have occurred. The pedestrian scramble is one example of this type of solution.

Leading pedestrian intervals would not have been much help here. This scheme allows the pedestrian a three to seven second head start to make them more visible to turning drivers. A potential crash reduction of up to 60 per cent is possible when traffic signals are set this way.

Even though Mr. Zacher did everything required by law, he’s still the biggest loser in this incident. While he was not required to, there are still precautions that he might have chosen to take in order to protect himself. When you are a vulnerable road user, doing more than you have to could pay off.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan Lanes bowlers take on the best in B.C.

The best results for the Cowichan Valley bowlers came in the intermediate girls division

Sonia Furstenau column: Now the time to make changes for the better

This coronavirus has given us opportunity to identify what matters most in our day-to-day lives.

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Drivesmart column: Staying on your side of the road

No exemptions that grant permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

Mary Lowther column: Starting seeds to beat the slugs, wood bugs

My favourite sorts of seedling starters are the plastic cells that fit inside trays

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Most Read