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Bus In Centre Of Road Not Liable For Motorcyclist Loss Of Control

Bus on busy road
5th November 2015

A court has dismissed an injuries claim by a motorcyclist who lost control of his scooter as he braked to avoid a bus approaching in the opposite direction.

The claimant, a 45 year old man, alleged that his accident was caused by a bus occupying the white lines in the centre of the road as it approached while he was travelling in the centre of the lane. Although there was no actual collision, the motorcyclist claimed there was no available space to pass. As he braked and tried to move to the left the claimant lost control of his scooter and fell to the ground, bruising his right forearm.

When an ambulance arrived, the cyclist complained of pain in his left leg where he was caught between the bike and the road, although injuries were not thought to be serious. Ten months later, the cyclist had surgical treatment for the rupture of a knee ligament.

The court heard from the bus driver defendant  that there was a row of parked cars on his left, which required him to pull the bus out to the right to overtake and cross the white lines down the middle of the road. The defendant argued that the bus was firmly established in its passing manoeuvre when the scooter approached.

The driver also alleges that there was plenty of room – around  three feet or more between the scooter and the pavement on the nearside – to allow the claimant to pass safely along the side of the bus when he first saw the scooter approaching. The claimant could either have waited to allow the bus to pass or proceed with care into the available space on his side of the road to let the bus pass. The claimant responded that the driver was travelling at 20 mph and could have slowed down or stopped.

Common manoeuvre for a large vehicle

The judge said that it was a common manoeuvre for a large vehicle to overtake a line of vehicles on its offside by taking up a part of the other side of the road. All drivers are familiar with the situation which faced the motorcyclist and it is also well known that the sensible course is to slow down and, if necessary, stop to allow the large vehicle to complete its manoeuvre.

Any attempt by the bus driver to pull further over to the left as the scooter approached would not have enlarged the gap to any greater extent and would have also risked driving closer to the parked vehicles on his nearside. The scooter was travelling at 15 mph and the judge said there was nothing to suggest that, had he slowed down or stopped, the claimant would not have lost control of his scooter.

The judge concluded that the bus driver was held to be experienced, careful and sensible, and not in any way negligent in his driving of the bus at the time, and was absolved of responsibility for the claimant’s accident.