I was driving down a two lane road, in the left lane. As I approached a construction zone, the two lanes merged into one. There was a sign that said the right lane ends, BUT this sign was incorrect. It was the left lane that ended.
Unfortunately I was driving according to what the sign said, and improperly continued into the right lane. This lead to me almost colliding into a bus.
So Iâ€™m wondering, if I did end up in a collision, who would be at fault here? Would the construction company bare any culpability?
The sign said that the right lane ended and you drove into it ?
You story is a bit confusing because you say you were in the left lane but then you later say you continued in the right. I'm assuming you meant the left lane. I'm also assuming the sign was orange. It's simply a guideline, not the be all and end all.
Also, the sign wasn't for your lane. It was for the right. The driver in the right lane can merge to the left or not. Either way, nothing happens.
So the question is more like if an obstacle appears in my lane (e.g. a bus) and I slam into the back of it, who is responsible. The answer is you. You're supposed to give enough space between yourself and the vehicle in front so that you can safely stop in time. It's a drivers right to be able to stop for an obstacle without being rammed from behind.
Except in Quebec where that woman stopped for ducks and got sent to jail when a motorcyclist ploughed into the back of her......But I digress !
There is some confusion here, so I've gone ahead and drawn a diagram
As you can see, the signage says that the right lane is ending (that's the lane the bus was in). But in reality, it was the left lane that was ending (my lane).
Having seen the incorrect signage, I was not expecting my lane (the left lane) to end. So I wasn't preparing to signal and look for a gap to make a safe lane change into the right lane. It was not until I reached nearly the end of the left lane that I realized that the sign was incorrect, and that I had to shift into the right lane. It was at this point where there was potential for collision.
So what I'm wondering is if I'd bare 100% responsibility if a collision were to have happened. Or would the construction company bare some responsibility for putting up incorrect signage?
I've done some more reading on the issue. It looks like municipalities in Ontario can be liable for damages if they don't maintain roads up to certain minimum standards, as established in Ontario Regulation 612/06.
Safety issues addressed in the Minimum Maintenance Standards include:
- ice on roadways;
- snow accumulation;
- monitoring of weather conditions and weather-related hazards;
- the frequency of patrols to â€œcheck upâ€ on roadway conditions;
- shoulder drop-offs;
- roadway debris;
- street and highway lights;
- signage (including regulatory and warning signs);
- traffic signals;
- conditions of bridges and overpasses;
- roadway surface conditions and quality; and
- sidewalk conditions.
I've gone ahead and looked up the minimum standards for warning signs:
Regulatory or warning signs
12. (1) The standard for the frequency of inspecting regulatory signs or warning signs to check to see that they meet the retro-reflectivity requirements of the Ontario Traffic Manual is once per calendar year, with each inspection taking place not more than 16 months from the previous inspection. O. Reg. 22/10, s. 8; O. Reg. 46/13, s. 12 (1); O. Reg. 367/18, s. 13.
(1.1) A regulatory sign or warning sign that has been inspected in accordance with subsection (1) is deemed to be in a state of repair with respect to the retro-reflectivity requirements of the Ontario Traffic Manual until the next inspection in accordance with that subsection, provided that the City does not acquire actual knowledge that the sign has ceased to meet these requirements. O. Reg. 46/13, s. 12 (2).
(2) If a regulatory sign or warning sign is illegible, improperly oriented, obscured or missing, the standard is to repair or replace the sign within the time set out in the Table to this section after becoming aware of the fact. O. Reg. 22/10, s. 8; O. Reg. 367/18, s. 13.
The issue here is that the incorrect signage was an orange "temporary condition" sign. It was not a regulatory (white background) or warning (yellow background) sign. So unless there is case law to the contrary, it looks like the City would not have been financially liable.
The other question I have is whether not I could have been convicted of an HTA violation. Obviously, if I ended up in the right lane and collided in the bus, my unsafe lane change would have been the cause of that collision. But if it came to trial, would a judge accept the defence that I should not be convicted with making an unsafe lane change because the posted signage was incorrect?
I would suggest that the fault still lies with you. Despite incorrect signage you are still responsible for observing the road in front of you and driving accordingly. Certainly that would be true for the HTA.
In regards to a civil action, blame can be split so the construction company could be found to have contributed to the collision
I find this interesting, as I don't think this is an isolated case of the wrong sign being put up, sometimes even permanent ones by the city. It is baffling to me how people whose job it is to put up signs don't seem to know the difference between them, like right lane vs left lane ends, the yellow and black striped hazard markers which are frequently misused (the black lines point DOWN to the side you need to pass to), upside down traffic signal ahead signs (who has ever seen a green light on top?), median ends vs begins, upside down No U-Turn signs, or turn restrictions that give conflicting times....
I send email to the city ALL the time when I see these and usually they get corrected pretty quickly.
As for construction signs, they often have them back to back (right/left) so they can move them around easily as the road layout may change. Likely someone just didn't pay any attention to what side they were putting it. Another one that is messed up pretty commonly by construction companies is the "Trucks entering from the right/left" sign. It says the entrance is on the opposite side from where they actually come at you from.
My philosophy is to always fight these things when you can show that you made a decision based on another factor and it is not 100% on you, especially when a sign supposed to be regarded as an authority to the driver is wrong. Put it this way, if there was an orange sign telling you to do something and you didn't obey it, you can BET they'd come after you for it. Explain how any reasonable motorist would react to that sign and show that your behavior was reasonable.
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