Objects on the road as a cause of accidents

Drivers are not always required to be able stop before a stationary object in the road:


I am unwilling to subscribe to a categorical rule that the speed of a motor car must, as a matter of law, in all cases without exception or qualification, be limited mathematically to such a rate that the car can be brought to a standstill without collision after the driver (keeping a reasonable outlook) observes a stationary object confronting him. It seems to me that as 'negligence is the absence of care according to the circumstances' (per Willes J., in Vaughan v. Taff Vale Ry. Co., 5 H. & N. 688) and as the circumstances founding negligence are infinitely various, it is unsafe to lay down any rule of law which is narrower and more precise than that each case must depend as a question of fact on its particular circumstances

(Irvine v. Metropolitan Transport Co. Ltd., [1933] O.R. 823 (CA)).


The above passage was cited in McCannell v. McLean, [1937] 2 DLR 639 (Ont CA), aff’d [1937] 2 DLR 639 (SCC) and referred to in Pitts Enterprises Ltd. v. Farkes, 2004 BCSC 1493, aff’d 2005 BCCA 511.




There is no rule of law to the effect that a careful driver is bound under all circumstances to see an unlighted object in time to avoid it. Each case must depend on its own facts

(Plett v. ICBC, 1987 CanLII 2753 (BCCA)).


In Clark v. Hebb, 2007 BCSC 883 the plaintiff was injured when the vehicle he was a passenger in collided with a concrete barrier after swerving for an object, possibly a box, in the road. The defendant argued that she was not liable because the object was blocked from view by the truck she was travelling behind and that she only saw it after the truck swerved to avoid it. The court rejected that explanation and held that the driver was following too closely behind the truck and driving at a speed which made it difficult for her to react in sufficient time.


In ICBC v. City of Vancouver; Labossiere v. Cassel, 1997 CanLII 2436 (BCSC) the defendant driver swerved because of a falling tree and then collided with an oncoming vehicle. The court held that the defendant reacted reasonably in the circumstances and was not liable for the accident.



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