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Stopping on the road


exploRVistas

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I saw this article recently about a girl who stopped her car to herd some ducks across the road, resulting in a speeding motorcycle hitting her car and killing the riders. This happened in Quebec. She is going to jail for it.

 

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/emma-czornobaj-who-caused-fatal-accident-while-helping-ducks-to-be-sentenced-thursday

 

I don't want to start a US/Canada discussion, but is this something we need to worry about when stopping for any reason? It was always my impression that the person following was responsible for maintaining safe distance. Thoughts on this?

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As far as I know, it is the person following/coming down the road that is responsible. What if that had been a child running into the street to get a ball? The person driving down the road in a safe manner is supposed to be able to stop if something like that happens. Sounds like the motorcyclist wasn't paying attention to what was happening in front of him. As I was told by a police officer once regarding a claim I was handling -- if that little old lady wants to stop in the middle of the road - there is no law that says she can't. Therefore when she came to a complete stop at a flashing green light, it was the duty of the person behind (our insured) to stop behind her and not proceed until the path was clear.

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If you are stopping IN the lane, making no effort to get to the shoulder, etc. with no regard for others on the road, thereby creating a hazard, and then proceed to create another visual hazard, then you deserve to be found guilty of creating a dangerous situation. This was the actions of someone who exhibited behavior we would normally associate with a young teenager, self absorbed without thinking about how others woulf be impacted by our actions. That's why 13 yr olds don't drive. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to only age chronologically not mentally.

 

Barb

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It does strike me as a strange verdict, there is the factor of not having gotten the car out of the roadway when she stopped. It doesn't say if the ducks were on the road or not, but I tend to assume that they were. From what the judge said, it would seem that if she had felt more responsible for the accident, he might have sentenced differently. I'm not sure if the laws of Canada are different from ours on such things or not, but I do know that both juries and judges sometimes make rulings which seem to be contrary to the laws. To me, it would seem that the laws are more in line with what Pat has expressed.

 

I wonder if the judge & jury would have felt differently if the lady had stopped for a small child playing in the road, leaving her car in order to get that child out of traffic and into a safe place? The results to the motorcycle driver would have been exactly the same.

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She created a visual distraction 'herding' the ducks. She didn't cause the deaths, but her actions lead to them, that's why it was criminal negligence not involuntary manslaughter. Sentence allows her to work, but if her judgement is so bad that she thinks what she did was ok then she shouldn't be driving.

 

Barb

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I served on a civil jury trial.

 

The guy was driving a RV and drove into a dust storm on a state highway. There was no shoulder and no way to drive off the road, so he stopped. There was a fully loaded wheat truck driving behind him at 65 MPH. He knew the RV was ahead of him. You can imagine what happened to the Class C when the wheat truck hit him. On a side note, the defendants lawyer kept referring on how poorly built RV's were and pay no mind to the pictures.

 

The Washington State Patrol did NOT issue a citation to ANYBODY.

 

BTW....my advice to my daughter learning to drive.....was drive over the animal. It is probably the safe thing to do in most cases on most roads.

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She created a visual distraction 'herding' the ducks. She didn't cause the deaths, but her actions lead to them, that's why it was criminal negligence not involuntary manslaughter. Sentence allows her to work, but if her judgement is so bad that she thinks what she did was ok then she shouldn't be driving.

 

Barb

 

Like. Like, and super like. Could'nt be said any better.

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Whether or not you see her actions as selfish or immature, the question remains: was the motorcyclist at fault? My thought is that he was not in control, whether or not she was creating a distraction. If a distraction causes a person to crash, then a lot of outdoor billboard companies could be held liable. Granted, she should have run over the ducks. But it just seems bad precedence to blame the obstruction when the person hit it was the one not paying attention.

 

I saw this same type of thing in northern Maine. We were at an overlook that was above the highway and the valley on the other side. A husband and wife on their bikes came by, with him in the lead. He decided to pull in. She was looking at the valley. She looked up and saw him stopped to make a left turn and had to lay her bike down on her leg, tearing it to shreds. Was that his fault?

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I think we would have to know more details or maybe even be on the jury to know. Personal experience: one of my girls got rear ended enough to total the car. Looked obvious to me but when it went to court it didn't go our way. Luckily we were just dealing with the value of the car and there were no injuries involved. The folks were uninsured. It was in Texas. They did lose the license plates off everyvehicle registered to them without insurance at least for a while. I did not follow up after that. I have seen people put traffic at risk trying to save a lose dog. I hate seeing them get hurt but a some point human life and health should trump and animal. I had to make that decision in Albq. back in Oct. in the dark. I still feel bad about it but essentially I had no choice given the circumstances. At the end of the month I was able to help some folks and 3 decent size beef cows from having a collision on I40 east of Albq.

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But it just seems bad precedence to blame the obstruction when the person hit it was the one not paying attention.

That reminds me of a company vehicle accident that I helped to review when on the company safety committee. In this case the operator was driving over the long bridges of US1 near Key Largo, FL. According to the accident report the driver was traveling at normal speed on a day with perfect weather. He was distracted by some scantily clad young ladies who were sunbathing on a passing sailboat. Just at that time a motorist just ahead of him came to a stop, for some reason that I do not recall and the company van slammed into that stopped vehicle.

 

Based upon the assessment of some here, I guess the review was all wrong in our assessment of this as an employee at fault accident.

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Guest Pensauncola

Whether or not you see her actions as selfish or immature, the question remains: was the motorcyclist at fault?

 

The operator of a trailing vehicle has an obligation to maintain control. Yes, the motorcyclist was at fault. The court did not exonerate him. If he had lived, he probably would have been given a citation. However, that does not give other drivers a license to slam on their brakes on a six lane freeway at rush hour. All drivers have an obligation to operate in a safe and responsible manner.

 

IMO, stopping in a traffic lane on a multi-lane highway for a bunch of ducks is neither safe nor reasonable. It appears that the court agrees with me. This person has no business driving on a public roadway. It appears the court agrees with me.

 

Many times in civil suits of these types, there is shared responsibility. Perhaps in this case, a jury might affix a percentage of responsibility to both drivers.

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The operator of a trailing vehicle has an obligation to maintain control. Yes, the motorcyclist was at fault. The court did not exonerate him. If he had lived, he probably would have been given a citation. However, that does not give other drivers a license to slam on their brakes on a six lane freeway at rush hour. All drivers have an obligation to operate in a safe and responsible manner.

 

IMO, stopping in a traffic lane on a multi-lane highway for a bunch of ducks is neither safe nor reasonable. It appears that the court agrees with me. This person has no business driving on a public roadway. It appears the court agrees with me.

 

Many times in civil suits of these types, there is shared responsibility. Perhaps in this case, a jury might affix a percentage of responsibility to both drivers.

 

I agree with you too.

 

If a piece of farm equipment is on the road at night with no lights or warning signs of any kind, and gets rear ended by a car coming around the blind corner, it most certainly is the farmers fault.

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If all the facts are as stated with no extenuating circumstances then the farmer probably is at fault but you have to be able to prove it in court before a judge and jury if necessary. Even then it isn't guaranteed he will be found at fault. Maybe it should be that way but in real life it isn't always the case. Just for the sake of discussion what if the farmer is in the wrong in everyway except that he is completely in his lane. That being the case the guy that hit the farmer was out of his lane which could be saying that the other guy is at fault. Just discussing not picking an arguement.

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IMO, stopping in a traffic lane on a multi-lane highway for a bunch of ducks is neither safe nor reasonable.

Was this a multilane highway? I saw nothing in what read to indicate that and as I previously stated, I don't see here is blameless, but question criminal negligence charge.

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In the article it said she stopped in the left hand lane which would indicate it was multilane or she stopped in the lane for oncoming traffic. I don't know based on the information given but if she was running around chasing ducks I bet it would be hard to figure out which way to move to avoid her and the ducks.

“This is not a case of stopping a car on a quiet (tree-lined) road were the speed limit is 30 kilometres per hour and where there is little traffic, if any." This would seem to indicate it was a fairly high speed road. Still from my point of view smart motorcycle riders have to be more than aware of traffic conditions and what the other drivers might do. She said she "knew" it would be safe to stop there. I read this somewhere else the other day but as here there wasn't complete information. IE: was she over the crest of a hill or around a curve where she could't be seen until it is too late to avoid her. The whole thing is a tragedy for all parties involved based on what appears to be poor judgement.

 

The highway looks to be divided highway like interstate in a developed area based on a look on google earth. Not enough info to determine where it happened on the highway.

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Guest Pensauncola

Was this a multilane highway? I saw nothing in what read to indicate that and as I previously stated, I don't see here is blameless, but question criminal negligence charge.

 

It's not up to me to determine criminal culpability. That's in the domain of the courts. However, IMO, her actions were idiotic, careless, and irresponsible. As to criminal mental state, I think she was at least negligent, bordering on reckless.

 

Yes, the motorcycle driver allowed himself to be distracted, failed to maintain his vehicle, and violated the law. What further price would we have him pay than with his life and that of his daughter?

 

Kirk, with respect to your earlier example. The scantily clad women had no liability in that matter. However, if they had stopped their vehicle in the middle of a highway, jumped out of the vehicle, and begun to frolic around naked in the roadway, I think the courts may have indeed attached some legal responsibility to their actions.

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Even if you are off the road not even driving you could be culpable if you knowingly create a "serious" and hazardous distraction to traffic. You can be culpable even if you didn't know but are judged that you should have known. I believe that just in recent history some billboards have done that and been removed are changed.

 

If I recall at least one supreme court justice is known to rv. Maybe he is secretly an SKP :ph34r: and could weigh in on the subject. Of course he may not want to talk "shop" when he is rving,

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Kirk, with respect to your earlier example. The scantily clad women had no liability in that matter. However, if they had stopped their vehicle in the middle of a highway, jumped out of the vehicle, and begun to frolic around naked in the roadway, I think the courts may have indeed attached some legal responsibility to their actions.

I didn't say that they did. Read what I asked but please don't add things to it. My question was about the fault of the accident between the two vehicles involved. It may be that the driver who stopped, obstructing the one who hit that car was looking at the same thing? But does that matter? Neither the girls nor the ducks were accused of anything.

 

It is really two very different issues. Nobody in this thread has said that what she did was smart, or legal, as far as I can find. The question was of responsibility of the driver who struck her. Obstruction of traffic is a violation, but criminal? Just how was she responsible for the fool speeding on a motorcycle? What if her car had stalled, would that somehow have prevented the accident? If her car had been completely clear of the roadway but another driver ahead of the motorcycle had hit their brakes for some reason the result would all have been the same. But the weakness of our entire debate is that none of us know all of the details so it may be that some key points are missing which that jury did know of. If so, that might change all of our positions.....

If I recall at least one supreme court justice is known to rv. Maybe he is secretly an SKP :ph34r: and could weigh in on the subject.

This was also not a US court but a Canadian one. I asked a Canadian RV owner I know well about it and he responded that it took place in Ontario, which is known for strange court rulings. Not sure exactly what that means, but thought I'd share it. :P He did indicate that he doesn't think the laws are much different on such issues from ours.

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Whether or not you see her actions as selfish or immature, the question remains: was the motorcyclist at fault? My thought is that he was not in control, whether or not she was creating a distraction. If a distraction causes a person to crash, then a lot of outdoor billboard companies could be held liable. Granted, she should have run over the ducks. But it just seems bad precedence to blame the obstruction when the person hit it was the one not paying attention.

 

I saw this same type of thing in northern Maine. We were at an overlook that was above the highway and the valley on the other side. A husband and wife on their bikes came by, with him in the lead. He decided to pull in. She was looking at the valley. She looked up and saw him stopped to make a left turn and had to lay her bike down on her leg, tearing it to shreds. Was that his fault?

That is a case of a poorly trained bike rider... one of the first things you learn is brakes will stop you much faster than metal sliding on pavement,

 

Jim

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Guest Pensauncola

I didn't say that they did. Read what I asked but please don't add things to it. My question was about the fault of the accident between the two vehicles involved. It may be that the driver who stopped, obstructing the one who hit that car was looking at the same thing? But does that matter? Neither the girls nor the ducks were accused of anything.

 

 

You're the one who brought up the example. I was just trying to make it relevant to the discussion. Are you arguing with yourself?

 

The ducks weren't accused of anything? No, but the female driver was. And, the courts found that she had criminal liability. I would hope that any American court would do the same. Her actions were indeed criminal, at least to a level of negligence. No reasonable person would stop their vehicle in the middle of a multi-lane highway, endangering their own life and property and those of others, to care for some ducks. I hold human drivers to a higher standard than a duck.

 

We can speculate all day about what if there had been a baby in the roadway, or a wreck, or if some other condition existed. The fact is that she stopped for some ducks.

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Was it a stupid thing for the girl to do? Certainly.


But there are things to consider here:


* The girl was familiar with the highway.

* The girl said there were was no other traffic when she stopped.

* An unknown from the article - what was the sight distance to the stopped car?

* No other vehicles ran into her. Before or after the accident.

* The court acknowledged that other vehicles successfully avoided the obstruction.

* The impact sent the daughter flying for 30 METERS before she hit a wall. That's well over half the width of a football field!!!

* The motorcycle was going so fast that its impact propelled the car forward enough to run over the daughter, who was 30 METERS away.


And the deaths were the result of the girl doing something careless????


I would be interested to know more about the Justice. I suspect she had something that severely compromised her ability to make a fair and impartial decision in this case. Perhaps she is a motorcyclist???


Here's a scenario for discussion: The girl quickly swerved and narrowly missed the ducks. The ducks scattered and the motorcycle hit one and went down killing both passengers. Would people would still be screaming "Her actions were that of an immature adolescence and apparently she feels no remorse that peopled died as a result" because she did nothing to warn other drivers of something in the road.


The court also concluded that the motorcycle was speeding and would have hit the car even it it had not stopped. No one here has said of the motorcyclist "His actions were that of an immature adult who apparently feels no regard for his or his daughter's safety."


What it it had been a horse the girl was trying to get off the road, or a large truck tire? What if her car had suddenly died on the road and she could not get out of the roadway? The fact that they were ducks should (and I say "should" because I am not a lawyer) have no bearing on the responsibility for all drivers to operate in a safe manner.


I think there is a bit more to this story. If I was on a jury for a case like this, it would be pretty hard for me to convict someone based solely on the information given.


We all see things daily that pose a threat of obstruction. It is our responsibility to drive in a manner that we can control our vehicles and avoid dangers.


Having said all this, I think a citation and perhaps some community service was in order. TEN YEARS suspension??? Jeez. I hope the appellate court has some sense. I really think that judge has some issues clouding her judgement.

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You're the one who brought up the example. I was just trying to make it relevant to the discussion. Are you arguing with yourself?

You seem to be doing so. My question was about the vehicle which stopped.............

Just at that time a motorist just ahead of him came to a stop, for some reason that I do not recall and the company van slammed into that stopped vehicle.

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Guest ticat900

To me its still a mystery as to why she was treated as harshly as she was.The road has more than one lane.The guy riding the Bike was speeding and in my opinion from reading all the reports also was not 100% focused on the road ahead. This is a busy highway and there is a strict no stopping anytime rule in play. She was found negligent for stopping for whats considered a invalid reason therefore causing the crash. one other thing to note is where she stopped was just around a curve in the hy so its not like the bike rider had a long clear sight of vision

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