Yes, another post about being charged under Ontario Highway Traffic Act 141(5).
For reference purposes, the following is the definition of that charge from the HTA:Left turn, across path of approaching vehicle
(5) No driver or operator of a vehicle in an intersection shall turn left across the path of a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction unless he or she has afforded a reasonable opportunity to the driver or operator of the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 141 (5).
Disclosure from the prosecutor's office arrived a few days ago, and I am preparing a defense arguing that I indeed "afforded a reasonable opportunity" to the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision. The wording of this section of the HTA, specifically the phrase "reasonable opportunity" would seem to make it relatively more difficult for the prosecutor to prove their case, i.e. what exactly is the definition of "reasonable opportunity"?
The following is a summary of the events leading to the collision:
- The T-intersection resides in a rural area, i.e. the roads are not illuminated, only the intersection itself is illuminated
- I was waiting on a red traffic signal in a left turn lane. I was the 3'rd or 4'th car in line
- Light turns green; there is no traffic approaching so everyone in the left turn lane proceeds with making the left turn
- While initiating my turn, I noticed an approaching car in the left lane, i.e. closest to road center. Admittedly, I should have noticed the approaching car sooner. When I did notice the approaching car, I distinctly seeing the car due to the intersection illumination (orange glow) as opposed to the car's headlights. Given that the accident occurred just after dusk, I suspect that the car was still operating with only the DRLs.
- I applied the brakes and managed to come to a complete stop somewhere in the middle of the approaching car's lane
- About 1 second later, the approaching car contacted my driver's side bumper and headlight resulting in the corner of the bumper and the headlight shattering. The term "contacted" was used rather than "collided" or "impacted" since the other car basically scraped along the front of my car and continued along its way for another 30 or so feet.
- There were no other vehicles approaching the intersection
There was a witness to the accident who was apparently "behind" my vehicle. I don't know whether the witness was also in the left turning lane, or whether he was travelling through the intersection. Based on the testimony of the witness, I was charged under HTA 141(5). The officer did not take my statement, and I don't know whether a statement from the other driver was taken. Based on the officer's report in the disclosure package, it seems only a witness statement was taken.
The following are some details provided in the disclosure package:
- The diagram in the "Motor Vehicle Accident Report" shows that the collision occurred while my vehicle was about 50% into the approaching car's lane
- The officers summary (based on the witness statement) stated that the other vehicle swerved to the right to avoid the collision but my vehicle kept turning striking the front left side of V2.
The position of the vehicles during the collision in the diagram basically corresponds to my recollection, however the witness statement does not correspond to my recollection. Specifically, as mentioned above, my vehicle came to a complete stop, and then a second or so later, the other vehicle scraped along the driver's side of my bumper/headlight.
Based on my recollection that I came to a complete stop in the intersection, and that there were no other vehicles in the other approaching lanes, the other driver should have been able to change direction, i.e. swerve, to avoid the collision. This was a very large intersection, i.e. approaching traffic has a pair of lanes, a generous bike lane, and then a right turning lane.
So the basic defence strategy will be that a reasonably skilled driver travelling at the posted speed limit (70 km) should have been able to avoid the collision, i.e. I did indeed "afforded a reasonable opportunity to the approaching vehicle to avoid a collision".
Any thoughts or comments on the above strategy, or anything else for that matter?
I've performed some reading about the court proceedings, but I am not sure exactly how to "tell my story". At this point, I am thinking of posing the following questions to the investigating officer during cross examination:
- Do you know the whereabouts of the witness when they observed the incident?
- If "yes", then where exactly?
- Was a statement taken from the other driver?
- Why wasn't a statement taken from me?
Apart from that I am not clear when/how my side of the story is told. Specifically, that I did come to a complete stop in the intersection. I would like to explore the possibility that the other driver only had the DRLs on (yes, this is a tough one), and the possibility they were speeding. Yes, I realize the other driver speeding is not a defense in itself, but combined with other aspects it might help the judge rule in my favour.
Regarding the other driver speeding, note that the posted speed limit drops from 80 km to 70 km about 200 ft before the intersection. As you might expect most folks travel about 90 km down the road, and large proportion of these drivers do not slow down to 70 km when travelling through the intersection!
Thanks in advance for any replies.