An SBS Transit bus collided into a motorcycle at the intersection of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West. The SBS bus was making a right turn while the motorcycle was proceeding straight. The front right bumper collided into the middle of the motorcycle. The motorcyclist (the husband of the respondent) died from the accident.
The issue is whether the respondent/ deceased, the motorcyclist, was contributorily negligent.
First point to consider was whether the deceased acted reasonably under the circumstances surrounding the accident
The law required a motorist to act on the basis that there could be negligence and incompetence on the part of other road users, and to make allowance for them, but without having to contemplate possibilities that were remote.
Evidence from an independent eyewitness, Low, was able to establish that the deceased had the right of way. Thus, the burden of proof rested in the appellant, SBS Transit Ltd, to show that the deceased had been contributorily negligent. The crux of the issue was what a reasonable person would do in a particular set of circumstances.
The first factor was the speed of the deceased. However, there was not much evidence in this regard. Experts called by both parties had shortcomings in their opinions rendered. The only eyewitness, Low, was not questioned as to whether the deceased was travelling at a fast speed. He was only asked if the deceased slowed down as he approached the intersection.
The next factor to consider was what the deceased was faced with as he approached the intersection. Road users are entitled to assume that road traffic rules will generally be followed but this assumption must be tempered with the realization that human failings and weaknesses exist. The law requires every motorist to be aware of human failings and weaknesses and adjust the manner in which he uses his vehicle on the road to take these into account. Based on the physical evidence of the point of impact, the right of the bus made contact with the middle of the motorcycle, the deceased had ridden into the intersection at a speed supported the possibility that the bus would make the turn before he could clear the intersection. This, together with the evidence of Low that the bus driver hesitated, slowed down, then decided to complete the right turn. This shows that the bus driver had misplaced the rate at which the motorcycle could get out of his path when he stepped on the accelerator to complete the right turn. The burden was on the appellant to prove that the speed at which the deceased entered the intersection was too fast in the circumstances and this burden was not discharged.
Second point to consider was whether the deceased’s blood alcohol level had affected him so that he was unfit to ride
S67 of the Road Traffic Act made it an offence to drive with a BAC in excess of 80mg/100ml.
The deceased’s BAC was 68mg/100ml. The appellant’s expert could not state the precise level of impairment which such BAC had on the deceased. Thus the burden on the appellant to prove that the deceased BAC level impaired his judgement was not discharged.
Thus the CA agreed with the conclusion of the trial judge and dismissed the appeal.
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