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    Case analysis of a car accident at an intersection Print

    In this article, I would like to explain the “stop and yield” principles at an intersection and discuss car accident liability using a real case.

     

    Description of the scene:
    Weather: Sunny.
    Illumination: Natural day light.
    Signs, markings, and traffic lights: None.
    Road type: Crossroad (intersection). Both north-southbound and east-westbound lanes are undivided highways.
    What happened: Vehicle A (a motorcycle) was going straight down on the northbound lane while vehicle B (a sedan) was going straight down on the westbound lane. No traffic cops or directors were on duty at the scene. The two vehicles had a head-on collision at the intersection.
    Damage: The front of vehicle A was totaled while the front left of vehicle B was slightly dented, and the cover of its turn signal was broken.
    Injury: The motorcycle rider got thrown off his motorcycle and dropped on the ground. His arms and legs suffered from multiple injuries. The driver of the sedan was not hurt but frightened.

     

    Sedan: The front panel was slightly dented, and the cover of its turn signal was broken. The driver was not hurt but frightened. (Going straight down on the northbound lane.)
    Motorcycle: The front is totaled. The rider got thrown off and dropped on the ground. His arms and legs suffered from multiple injuries. (Going straight down on the westbound lane.)

     

    Applicable regulations and explanation:
    The road was a cross (intersection). As a result, the “stop and yield” principles should apply. The car accident liability can be discussed based on section 1-1 and 1-2, article 102 of the Road Traffic Safety Regulations. The stipulation of the article is as follows:
    At an intersection, vehicles should follow the rules below when either going straight forward or making a turn.
    One. Drive according to the traffic lights or traffic directors. When both are present, drive based on the traffic directors.
    Two. When driving to an intersection without traffic lights or the traffic lights are malfunctioning and without traffic directors, cars on the main road shall have the right of way. When there are no signs, markings, or traffic lights to determine the main and side roads, cars on the multi-lane road shall have the right of way. When the two roads have the same number of lanes, cars making a turn shall grant the right of way to cars going straight forward. When cars on the two roads are both going straight forward or making a turn, the car on the right shall have the right of way. However, when the traffic is heavy, all cars shall stop at the stop line and yield to other cars before taking turns to go.

     

    Analysis of the liability:
    The four entrances of this intersection were all void of traffic lights or traffic directors. As a result, section 1-2, article 102 of the Road Traffic Safety Regulations should apply: “When driving to an intersection without traffic lights or the traffic lights are malfunctioning and without traffic directors, cars on the main road shall have the right of way.” Moreover, there were no flashing red light, yellow light, upside down triangular “Yield” sign, octagonal read “Stop” sign, “Yield” marking, or “Stop” marking to determine which the main road was. Subsequently, the next principle should apply: “When there are no signs, markings, or traffic lights to determine the main and side roads, cars on the multi-lane road shall have the right of way.” Continuing, both the north-southbound and east-westbound lanes were undivided highways with only a single lane. The next principle should apply: “When the two roads have the same number of lanes, cars making a turn shall grant the right of way to cars going straight forward.” Yet, in this case, vehicle A was going straight down on the northbound lane, and vehicle B was going straight down on the westbound lane. So the next principle should apply: “When cars on the two roads are both going straight forward or making a turn, the car on the right shall have the right of way.” Lastly, based on the drawing of the scene, vehicle A was on the left hand side of vehicle B. According to the principle “…, the car on the right shall have the right of way,” vehicle A should have yielded to vehicle B. Therefore, vehicle A might have to be held totally or more accountable for the accident while vehicle B might be not liable or less liable.

     

    Conclusions:
    The front of the motorcycle (small vehicle) was totaled (serious damage), and the rider got multiple injuries (injured). On the other hand, the sedan (big vehicle) got only a slightly dented front panel and a broken cover of the turn signal (minor damage), and its driver did not get any injuries (not injured). However, the accident investigators and general public have dispelled the misconception that “the uninjured”, “bigger vehicle”, “the less damaged” parties should take on the responsibility of compensation. Instead, based on the principle “…, the car on the right shall have the right of way,” vehicle A in this case was held totally or more accountable because the rider did not yield to vehicle B accordingly. In contrast, vehicle B might be less or not at all liable for this accident. Hopefully, this article will help road users understand the importance of traffic etiquette and respecting one another by explaining the “stop and yield” principles and discussing the car accident liability in this case. Last but not least, when approaching an intersection, all cars should slow down and pay more attention to the traffic.