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Slow Overtaking on the Highway is now the British Columbia Standard

Overtaking_slowly
An annoyingly slow overtaking vehicle cannot be blamed for the bad driving of others. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the overtaking another vehicle as quickly as reasonably possible standard is now inappropriate in British Columbia ( Borgfjord v. Boizard, 2016 BCCA 317).
The slow defendant, driving 25-30 kph under the speed limit, was in the far left lane passing even slower moving tractor-trailers . The protaganist approached these vehicles attempting to overtake through a small gap between the two tractor-trailers causing a severe car accident. The trial judge found the slow overtaking defendant partially at fault for blocking the left lane as she passed too slowly.
The Court of Appeal completely disagreed creating a new judicial twist and doing away with the driver’s obligation to pass as quickly as reasonably possible.  It was put this way:

[49] In my view, the “Drive as Fast as Reasonably Possible Standard” ignores the right of slow traffic to pass slower-moving traffic provided for in s. 162(1) of the MVA.  Whether passing, slow-moving driving is negligent must depend on what would be expected of an ordinary, reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances.  The provisions of the MVA and the expressions of the other drivers suggest the standard articulated by the judge is outside the range of actions that would be expected of an ordinary, reasonable and prudent person in the same circumstances.

Also the Court of Appeal found the judge did not make the findings of fact required to determine whether the accident would not have happened but for the  failing to pass “as quickly as reasonably possible”.  Therefore the factual foundation for causation was not proven.  “While there is no requirement for scientific proof, the judge’s inferences must be based on proven facts and cannot be simply guesswork.  The judge’s conclusion here cannot be said to be a common sense inference based on his findings of fact.

The three judge Court of Appeal panel concluded that the trial judge erred in using a standard of “Drive as Fast as Reasonably Possible” when passing vehicles in the right hand lanes.  In the result the appeal was allowed and  the lawsuit dismissed against the appellants.

Learn more about how judges make decisions in motor vehicle accident cases:

Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

Tags: Legal Causation, liability, Negligence, Overtaking, Section 162(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act

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