Slow Down Move Over Crash

BC Courts Coat of ArmsThe case of Stene v Roberts involves a rear end collision on Highway 17 in Surrey. A tow truck was working on the westbound shoulder near the Port Mann Bridge. Both drivers obeyed the slow down move over rule and doing so resulted in the crash.

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Slow Down Move Over Collision

Justice Tucker found that the highway leading up to the collision was relatively straight and the flashing yellow lights on the tow truck were visible for at least a kilometer for overtaking drivers.

Mr. Roberts slowed to 70 km/h, moved into the left lane and continued to drive at that speed as he approached the tow truck.

Mr. Stene was ahead of Mr. Roberts and continued in the right lane, slowing steadily and approaching to within 100 feet of the tow truck before changing lanes to the left and slowing further as he passed by.

Mr. Roberts was unable to stop or slow sufficiently to avoid a collision with Mr. Stene following the lane change.


Mr. Stene's position is that Mr. Roberts failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to brake in a timely or effective way, was driving at an excessive speed for the circumstances and was driving without reasonable consideration for others.


[104]     It is possible for surrounding circumstances to impose an obligation on a driver to be on guard for specific eventualities or hazards (e.g., driving by a freeway exit or by a turnoff into a busy amusement park). However, I am not persuaded that there was anything in the circumstances here that should have put Mr. Roberts on guard for last-minute lane changers as he approached the tow truck. Further, while Mr. Roberts had a general duty to be aware of traffic around him, he was also entitled to assume that any vehicles that might be in the right lane would comply with the rules of the road and not attempt to merge contrary to s. 151(a) of the MVA: Kanning v. Fettback, 2022 BCSC 864 at para. 127.

[105]     Considering the facts outlined above and the absence of any reason to be on guard for last-minute lane changes as a hazard, I am not persuaded that passing the tow truck doing 70 kilometres per hour in the centre of the left lane was excessive in the circumstances. Certainly, it would have been reasonable to slow further. But I cannot conclude that it was unreasonable not to make that choice in the all circumstances.

[106]     Once Mr. Roberts saw the Mercedes, he reacted quickly, but there was insufficient space between the Kia and the Mercedes for him to avoid a collision by braking. Given the location of the Mercedes relative to the Kia, there was no point in swerving right, and there was a concrete barrier to the left. Mr. Roberts could only slow down, which he did.

The case against Mr. Roberts was dismissed.

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