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05 Jan 2020

Driver partly liable for accident despite entering intersection on green light

by Catherine McLatchie
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Savoie v Bell-Authier & Benoit, 2019 NBQB 277

On January 8, 2013, Brian Benoit was driving along Mountain Road in Moncton with passenger and Plaintiff, Karine Savoie.  He approached the intersection with West Lane traveling approximately 50 to 60 kmph.   Mr. Benoit was only about two car lengths away from the intersection when he noticed the red traffic light and started to brake.  When he reached the stop line, the light changed to green.  So, he decided to accelerate and continue through the intersection at approximately 50 kmph. 

David Bell-Authier was exiting the Papa John’s Pizza parking lot in his vehicle via West Lane when he saw a green light at the intersection that would allow him to turn onto Mountain Road.  When he reached the cross walk before the intersection, he realised the light had turned yellow.  Due to snowbanks, Mr. Bell-Authier could not see all the cars approaching the intersection.  He continued into the intersection where his car collided with Mr. Benoit’s vehicle. 

Ms. Savoie brought an action against both Mr. Benoit and Mr. Bell-Authier for damages.  Mr. Benoit moved for summary dismissal of Ms. Savoie’s claim against him.  Justice Landry of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench found that pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Act, Mr. Benoit had the right-of-way with a green light and Mr. Bell-Authier ought to have stopped at the yellow light.  However, Justice Landry stated “it was not unreasonable to expect that when a traffic light has just turned green, a driver entering the intersection will pay due attention to his driving and surroundings in order, for example, to avoid a car that happens to enter the intersection on a yellow light that is turning red”.  Justice Landry found Mr. Benoit contributorily negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout when he entered the intersection.  Justice Landry apportioned liability for the accident 15% to Mr. Benoit and 85% to Mr. Bell-Authier.

You can read Savoie v Bell-Authier & Benoit, 2019 NBQB 277, in its entirety here.

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