Whenever you pull out of a minor road onto a major one, the driving teacher's classic instruction to look right, left and right again should come to mind. However, what is safe depends on all the circumstances and, in one case, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a motorist was duty-bound to look to her left for a second time.
The case concerned a woman who pulled out of a minor road and turned right onto a main road where a motorcyclist collided with her car, sustaining catastrophic injuries. After he launched a personal injury claim, a judge found that the woman bore the lion's share – 55 per cent – of responsibility for the accident. He did so despite finding that the motorbike was travelling at excessive speed.
The judge ruled that, in the particular circumstances of the case, the woman should have looked right, left, right and, crucially, left again before she pulled out onto the main road. Although the motorbike was out of view when she began her manoeuvre, he found that she would have seen it had she looked left for a second time.
Dismissing her appeal against that outcome, the Court noted that it is obvious that a driver emerging from a minor road onto a major road owes a continuing duty of care to vehicles on the major road. She was moving out onto a road on which a regular flow of traffic was to be expected. The junction was unusual in that her view to the left was affected by a bend in the major road.
Prior to the impact, she was wholly unaware of the presence of the motorcycle. Her evidence that she had seen no traffic coming in either direction on the main road demonstrated that she was not keeping a proper lookout. Whatever his speed, the motorcyclist was there to be seen. The judge correctly found that she was under a duty to look left for a second time before moving into the junction and that her failure to do so was the primary cause of the collision.