Case Law: Stop Signs

Case study:

X has the right of way and entered and entered an intersection and Y collided with his left hand side. Y drove over a stop street. On the same facts, X collided with the right hand side of Y. 

Legal principles:

  1. Y may only pull away if it is safe and he has sufficient visibility of oncoming vehicles. If there is an obstruction (example a parked vehicle), he must move slowly forward to enable him to see pass the obstruction.

  2. Y who approach a three- or four way stop may only pull away if other vehicles that arrived before him at the stop are already through the intersection.

  3. Y who wants to pull away from a stop sign, must look towards the left, right and when seeing X approaching 200m at his right on a high speed and without further considering enters the intersection is negligent. (Caldwell vs Commercial Union 1977 (1) SA 748 (A) and Schroder vs President 1978 (2) SA 600 (A))

  4. X who has the right of way:

    1. has the right to assume that Y who approach the stop sign will stop; and

    2. X does not have the absolute right of yield and still has a duty to keep a general lookout. If X notice Y approaching the stop street, if he kept a proper lookout and he notice that Y is approaching the crossing at a very high speed, he must assume that Y will not stop and try to take the necessary avoiding actions. (Guardian vs Saal 1993 (2) SA 161 (CPD))

  5. If X who has the right of way approach a hidden stop street, he must the moment when the side street is visible look in the side street if there is perhaps not someone who will drove over the stop street. If he notices Y approaching in such a manner that it seems that he will not stop, he must do everything possible to avoid a collision. (Guardian vs Saal)

  6. X who has the right of way and who must keep a general lookout, has the right to assume in the absence of any indications to the contrary that that Y will stop at a stop sign. Only if it is clear to a reasonable person in X’s position that Y will not stop or will not be able to stop in time, is there a duty on X to try to avoid the accident. Under normal circumstances it is not the duty of X to regulate his driving in such a manner that a driver will not stop at a stop sign. (NEG vs Sullivan 1988 (1) SA 27 (AD))

  7. X who has the right of way and who notice Y stopping at a stop street, it cannot be expected from him to anticipate that a second vehicle will overtake the stillstanding vehicle Y and enter the intersection on the wrong side.

Case Law:

NEG VS SULLIVAN 1988 (1) SA 27 (AD)

Facts:

Y has the right of way and is well known with the area. Y is driving on a tar road. Y knows that the intersection in which X is driving and which is a gravel road, is regulated by a stop sign at the intersection. The stop sign however has been removed a while ago. Y is not aware of this. The accident occurred at night. Visibility was limited for both vehicles by a hedge and therefore a blind corner exists. The accident occurred in the intersection.

Held – Court decision:

Y was not in the wrong in the special circumstances in this particular case to act on the basis that traffic in the cross street will give yield to him.

Y did keep a proper lookout and only noticed X when he came from behind the hedge and up to that there is no reason why he should have taken any precautions.

In the absence of any testimony:

How far X and Y were from the intersection when X was visible for Y, or the speed of X’s vehicle and the positions of X and Y when Y became aware that X is not going to stop, it is therefore not possible to assume that Y was negligent and not taking the necessary care and experience as one would expect from a reasonable person.

The driver who has the right of way has the right to assume that in the absence of any reasons to the contrary, that driver in the cross street will adhere to the stop sign. Only when it becomes clear for the reasonable man in the position of the driver who has the right of way that X is not going to stop or will not be able to stop in time, then Y has a duty to try to avoid the collision.

When it became clear to Y that X was not going to stop (there were no clear evidence that he could have realised it earlier) and by making provision for reaction time, the distance between X and Y and their speed, there was nothing that Y could have done to avoid an accident or prevent it.

No negligence could be indicated on the side of Y.

SA EAGLE VS HARFORD 1992 (2) SA 786 (AD)

Facts:

Collision occurred inside a four way stop. A motor vehicle collided with its front against the left hand side of a truck in the middle of an intersection. The truck was already far into the intersection. The motor vehicle has just moved across the stop line when the accident occurred. The motor vehicle did not stop at the stop sign, but moved into the intersection at a high speed.

The truck did stop and noticed the vehicle approaching fast. He however thought that the motor vehicle did see him and will top. The truck then pulled away.

Held – Court decision:

The assumption of the truck driver that the motor vehicle is not going to stop was not unreasonable in the circumstances. A reasonable driver has to make absolutely sure that it is safe to enter an intersection before he does it. The truck driver won the appeal with costs. Absolution of the Instance against the truck driver with costs was ordered.

GUARDIAN NATIONAL INSURANCE CO VS SAAL 1993 (2) SA 161 (CPD)

Facts:

X drove over a stop street and collided with Y who has the right of way. X can as a result of his injuries not remember how the accident occurred. On behalf of X it was testified that Y had for 75m from the intersection clear visibility on the intersection.

Held – Court Decision:

X had to prove on a balance of probabilities that Y was negligent and that his negligence has caused the accident or contributed to it. The fact that Y did not keep a proper lookout is not enough to keep him accountable.

X must prove that the neglect has a causal connection to the accident. The question is:

If Y kept a proper lookout and he should have noticed that Y is not going to stop, that he could have at that moment take effective avoiding actions.

X must prove that if Y reacted when the reasonable man would have reacted, the accident would not have occurred.

X did not prove that Y negligence to keep a proper lookout had a causal connection to the cause of the accident.

The appeal of Y succeeded in this matter.

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About MVO/VTH admin

Director of MVO Consultants and VTH Consultants, specializing in all Liability Claims, Loss of Income and the investigation of merits.
This entry was posted in Case Law, Motor Vehicle Accident Investigations, Stop Signs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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