HERGOTT: Don’t believe in blind luck while driving

Lawyer Paul Hergott’s latest column

“Holy Mary Mother of God”. Though it was about 25 years ago, I remember the moment my mother uttered those words like it was yesterday.

She was getting back into driving. I was along for support.

We were stopped facing a stop sign at 13th Avenue, a busy street in Regina, Saskatchewan. Parked cars along our side of 13th avenue blocked our view.

Her words did nothing to calm my panic when she hit the gas.

My mother was not intending to put us, and others, at risk. She felt it unsafe to pull forward past the stop sign to look for a safe break in traffic because that, in itself, might put us in harm’s way.

She thought it safer to just quickly go for it.

We made it across. Divine intervention? I think blind (literally) luck.

A “Jesus take the wheel” approach to stop signs is (I hope) an exceedingly uncommon one.

But there are much more common scenarios where we think nothing of proceeding completely blind towards potential hazards.

The scenarios I am referring to arise when one lane is flowing while another lane (or lanes) have come to a stop.

This regularly occurs with HOV lanes. Only those with more than one occupant can cruise past while others are gridlocked.

It also occurs when a left turner, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, blocks traffic coming from behind. Traffic will move over to the right to get past. Often even if there isn’t a designated lane.

If the stopped vehicles are low profile sports cars you can see over, no problem.

But stopped traffic often blocks your view of what might be happening ahead of it. And vice versa.

An oncoming left turner, or crossing driver, might be taking the opportunity to make their way across the street in front of the stopped traffic.

They might have been waived across by a lead stopped vehicle.

They might be slowly inching forward, aware of the possibility that a vehicle might be coming up the curb lane. Or they might be oblivious.

It might not be a vehicle. It might be someone walking their dog, pushing a stroller, out for a jog, on a bicycle or roller blading.

You can’t see them. They can’t see you. Each of you is as blind to potential hazards as my mother was when facing that stop sign.

And each of you faces the same choice.

You can choose to reduce your speed and increase your vigilance so that you can react safely. Or you can rely on divine intervention.

Do you, cruising up the empty curb lane, have the absolute right of way? What about the pedestrian at an unmarked crosswalk? What if the crossing vehicle, facing a stop sign, had slowly started across when you were still half a block away? Over the next two columns I will be sharing the results of actual court cases where judges have wrestled with how to assess liability in these scenarios.

But who cares about liability? Let’s care about safety this Season, and for all of 2020. Embrace whatever higher power you might embrace, but please don’t let them take the wheel.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Design concepts released for Oyama Isthmus Park

District of Lake Country is seeking public feedback on the designs for the stretch of waterfront

Illegal dumping, yelling at staff: problems at North Okanagan waste facility

Regional district says security cameras have been installed at the Silver Star Transfer Station

Interpretive salmon classes at Kingfisher Creek get financial aid

Funds from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program will help raise Shuswap River salmon awareness

Vernon pedestrian struck dies from injuries

Emergency responders are on scene on Main Street near the CIBC, traffic affected

New park ready for play in BX

Vernon-area kids can explore a new playground

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Unofficial holidays: here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Aug. 16 to 22

World Photography Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day and Rum Day all coming up this week

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

Esa Carriere was stabbed to death during the Canada Day fireworks in downtown Kelowna in 2018

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Most Read