Identifying Hazards before Moving a Parked Vehicle

Those of us who took driver training might remember pre-trip safety lists. If you did, you might recall that one of the most important steps you should do before moving a parked car is to check around it for potential hazards. This obligation is set out in section 169 of the Motor Vehicle Act, which states that:

A person must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety and he or she first gives the appropriate signal.

In the case of Singh v. Lepitre, 2019 BCSC 1728, the court had to consider fault for an accident as between pedestrians who were on a road and the driver who struck them when she went to move her vehicle.

The accident occurred on a quiet residential street where there was no sidewalk. The pedestrians in question had been working on an active construction site and were on their lunch break at the time of the accident. The two pedestrians sat on the road about 2 feet from the curb between two parked cars. Both parked cars were roughly 6 feet away from the spot where they sat to eat lunch.

The driver worked several blocks away and had parked her car on the street for the morning. She had intended to run errands on her lunch break. She approached her vehicle from the rear and did not see the pedestrians as she got into her vehicle. Once in her vehicle she proceeded to drive forward before turning into the main area of the road, but as she moved forward she saw a construction worker running towards her waving his arms. She immediately stopped her vehicle and when she exited her vehicle saw one of the pedestrians under her vehicle.

Following trial, the court determined that the driver was required to act in the same manner as a reasonably prudent motorist in light of the circumstances. However, motorists are not expected to anticipate all possible hazards and the standard of care is not perfection. Of important consideration in this case was that the accident occurred on a residential street with no sidewalk. The driver testified that it was common for pedestrians and children to walk and play in the parking area along the road. The court further noted that the presence of the construction site on the road increased the chance that pedestrians would be located in the road in front of the construction site.

As a result, the court determined that the driver did not pay attention before moving her vehicle, did not act in a reasonable manner considering the circumstances of the street, and found her 80% at fault for the accident.

As this case shows, it is important for drivers to always check that there are no pedestrians or other hazards around their vehicle before moving it from a parked position especially when is has been left for an extended period in a public space.

Find the answers you need.

Need advice? We can help. Reach out to our team today.