Lighting as a cause of an accident

When lighting is bad drivers are expected to slow down to give themselves additional time to react to hazards:


The female appellant was lawfully in the crosswalk and the respondent was, accordingly, required to yield right of way to her. The reason he gave for not doing so was because he did not see her soon enough and he did not see her sooner because the lighting conditions at the intersection in question were such that the crosswalk area was a blind area to him as he came from the north. His duty in those circumstances was to enter the intersection at such a speed and keeping such a look-out that if a pedestrian should be in the crosswalk he would be able to yield the right of way to that pedestrian.

(Petijevich et al. v. Law (1968), 1 D.L.R. (3d) 690 at 697 (SCC)).


Drivers should not proceed when there vision is compromised by unusual lighting conditions. For example, in Chambers v. Goertz, 2009 BCCA 358 the defendant was found 100% liable for striking pedestrians when proceeding when her vision was reduced by headlights of a taxi:


She continued to drive when she could not see ahead into her lane beyond the high beams of the taxi. She was alerted by the taxi being stopped to the irregularity of the situation; she knew taxis pick up and drop off passengers. She did not expect people to be in the area but admitted that the presence of a taxi could signal the presence of people. Despite not being able to see the area into which she was driving in this irregular situation, she continued on without braking or sounding her horn. She took some precautions, taking her foot off the accelerator and covering the brake, but they were insufficient to prevent her from driving blindly beyond the high beams at a speed somewhere around the speed limit of 60 kph. She had a common law duty to drive with due care for the safety of others that she could reasonably have in her contemplation, and she breached that duty by driving forward at that speed when she could not see into the lane ahead, an action that makes a clear risk of harm foreseeable. She should have slowed to a speed that would have allowed her to approach the blind area with appropriate caution for whatever lay ahead, including the safety of persons who could foreseeably be at or near a taxi. By failing to do so, she breached her duty to drive with due care for the safety of others. That breach was a contributing cause of the accident. I find that Ms. Goertz was negligent.

(Chambers v. Goertz, 2009 BCCA 358 at para. 44 quoting the trial judge).



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