Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Bryn1876

Narrowly avoided an accident today where a car started pulling out of a lane onto my national speed limit country lane, saw me coming towards him at about 50mph appeared to stop but then pulled out further and breaked again so about half of his car is out in my road leaving me about a cars length of space to do something. Luckily there was nobody coming the other way, I swerved around him, narrowly missed his front end and we were all ok. But this got me thinking, if there had been a car coming the other way (car 2) and I hit him, who would be at fault? Me or the guy who pulled out in front of me (car 1)?

The country lane is about 3 cars wide and knowing that you've braked as hard as you can and do not have hope of stopping and there is a high hedge and no open ground to your left, are you meant to avoid the accident by swerving around car 1's front end and risk crashing into car 2, or are you meant to deliberately crash into the side of car 1 knowing you'll both be badly hurt (and that you or car 1 could still end up in the path of car 2)?

Again, this is purely theoretical, but seen as you'd only have a split second to decide if it ever happened again it could be useful to know.

Edited by Bryn1876 on 04/08/2017 at 18:28

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Bryn1876

The angle that the front of car 1 was at meant that unless I deliberately aimed for his back door, I'd have most likely have been sent into the path of car 2.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - gordonbennet

In split second circs like that it's only instinct that kicks in, i suspect most drivers of longish experience would just brake as hard as possible and try to keep the vehicle straight, i'm wary of braking and swerving despite thge modern systems, i'd rather brake or swerve not both but thats me, other will theorise maybe differently.

The danger with braking hard and swerving is that you might, as you have done, miss the bloke who caused it all only to be unable to recover the swerve and either have a head on crash with the oncoming car, or the oncoming car swerves to miss you and goes off the road head on into a tree brick wall or skip..

The problem then is matey might well just clear off, and even if you or the other driver were camera'd up, its likely the msicreants number plate wouldn't be visible, and if no one had a camera then it's your word against matey even if he could be found, if the other driver hits a tree and dies you could quite easily be found at fault unless there is some evidence to support the real events.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - RobJP

Technically, you are supposed to anticipate things such as this - it's something that the IAM can help with.

Basically, as you drive along, you are mentally noting everything, cataloguing those that can have a bearing (or not, as the case may be), and then paying more attention to the ones that do.

As an example, me, driving home tonght :

At one set of traffic lights (chippy and shop just by there, be aware of children especially not paying attention). Lights green, I'm aware of the person alongside me who seems slightly oddly angled - I'm not entirely sure where they're wanting to go, so I leave additional space until I've determined what's happening. 100 yards along, there's a converted church - now a dance school - be aware of mums (in particular) parking in stupid places to drop off or collect the little darlings, or said sprogs coming out of there and running across the road. 300 yards further along, small community hospital, may be people coming out of there. Another 400 yards, kids walking along pavement on left, there are playing fields on the right another 100 yards along, so be aware, adjust speed, move over slightly towards the centre of the road in case they start to cross. ...

All that is within half a mile.

In your case, as soon as he starts to move, you should be on the brakes. You say you were down to 50. You then don't mention braking or slowing any more, just swerving.

Oh, and if the choice is between hitting a car moving towards you at very slow speed, or one coming towards you at 40+, then there's only one choice to make.

Unless you like hospital food.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Bryn1876

Yeah I was doing 50 on the straight country lane when this guy stuck his nose out of the side road, saw me, stopped and the continued to bumble out into my path. I slammed on my brakes so hard as to scatter my bag/CDs off the passenger seat into the passenger footwell and so hard my innards hurt, but it got to the point where you had to just abort, stop braking and consider doing something else. But if there was the risk of going into the path of another car it's whether you're deliberately meant to carry on into the guy who's stuck half his car in your path (maybe trying not to hit his door with full force), or is it my responsibility to at least try and avoid an accident and swerve around him - knowing that if I did carry on and hit him, it would possibly deflect me onto the other side of the road anyway.

Its then whose fault it would be - if I braked but carried on straight and hit car 1, it would be his fault but if I swerved to avoid an accident but hit car 2 is the accident my fault or car 1's fault for causing me to decide to swerve in a split second decision.

It's just something got me thinking as it could easily happen in future, and it may be best to know.

Edited by Bryn1876 on 04/08/2017 at 20:55

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - galileo

You don't say how far away this car was when you first saw it - as Rob says it would have been prudent to brake THEN to a speed at which you coiuld stop if he continued to pull out. It sounds as if you assumed he would stop and maintained your 50 mph until he moved further into your path.

If someone shoots out in front of you so close it is impossible to stop, GB makes the valid point that swerving to avoid potentially leaves the guilty party unscathed and yourself in a ditch/into a tree/into an innocent party.

On the other hand, maximum braking and T-boning him will show evidence of who was at fault and hopefully crumple zones, airbags and seat belts will mitigate the effects on you.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Andrew-T

Its then whose fault it would be - if I braked but carried on straight and hit car 1, it would be his fault but if I swerved to avoid an accident but hit car 2 is the accident my fault or car 1's fault for causing me to decide to swerve in a split second decision.

The unknown quantity here is whether you would keep control while swerving, never mind if there is an oncoming car as well. That will depend on road surface, whether it's wet, and other factors. Keeping straight may be more predictable if it's not too fast a collision.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Avant

I think I'm with Galileo here, although only marginally: it's a natural reaction to try to avoid hitting anyone.

I drive on country lanes almost every day. Dorset specialises in T-junctions where there is too much vegetation for the person emerging from the minor road to see clearly if there's anything coming. So you inch out gradually. Someone on the major road seeing this ought to be defensive and cover their brake eben though they have right of way.

Even that isn't much help against someone who comes out without looking.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Stanb Sevento

My analysis is the car pulling out of the lane is guilty of careless or maybe dangerous driving. If you pulled to the other side of the road to avoid him you would be guilty of the same. Only if you can be sure there is nothing coming is swerving to the other side an option and you are in the wrong if you cause another accident.

Other factors come in to it, any advance warning signs for a junction or unmarked junction? Was your speed appropriate for the road and visibility? At the end of the day the police and insurgence will come down against the first car that pulled out but if you caused another accident you would need to prove you did so to save life or serious injury.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - oldroverboy.

I forget how many times i have heard about accidents on Country roads..where the driver said i was doing 50 in a 50 limit.. 60 in a 60 limit etc etc.

The speed limit is a maximum, not a target! The A134 colchester to sudbury is a mish mash of bends hamlets and straights and some of it is not really suitable for for the speed limits, so I drive slower when i think it is inappropriate to drive at 50 or 60.

anticipate anticipate anticipate.

and don't carry junk loose on the passenger seat that could shoot forward into the footwell. or a coffee in a paper cup jammed between your thighs.....

what if it shoots under your brake pedal, or you bend down to pick up your mobile/purse/cd/wallet and hit someone.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - madf

I drive along country roads - single track with apssing spaces - to our Asscoiation apiary every week.

Like trying to exit our drive, I find an open window means you can usually hear other traffic. Much safer...

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - catsdad
I have a friend, Josh, who was a police traffic officer and keen driver. When he drove me on a country road with which I was very familiar I was amazed at the very slow speed he took some sections and the high speed he took others. In each case he was way slower/quicker than me.

Adding to what others have posted, among other factors, it was about his driving strictly within the clear distance he could see ahead and the potential hazards he could identify - such as that every joining lane might have an inattentive driver coming out. In that case he is already covering the brake (or more likely braking until he can see the junction is clear) and assessing other options.

We can all get caught out by unexpected actions by other drivers who are initially in the wrong. However if I face a situation and have enough time to think about my best course of action and then have a near miss, I have to acknowledge that my actions, such as going too fast, were probably a contributory factor. Whether this applies to the OP incident I can't say and I can easily see myself being in the situation described.

I would be surprised if it caught Josh out though.
Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}

To add information to the debate, I was on a Toyota day some years ago when ABS was being introduced. The Avensis ABS could be switched off and on for demonstration purposes. I was convinced it really improved the cars stability and enabled manoeuvring while braking.With the ABS off the Toyota was all over the place .

I did T bone a car gently in the wet many years ago on a wide 40mph urban road. A driver turned across the front of me, and stopped, to pull into a driveway. I had not anticipated that and I was unable to slow effectively with locked wheels on Dunlop C41 crossplies. The car I was driving was undamaged. The next week my father fitted a set of Michelin XZX iirc, as he agreed about the poor wet braking (his car). The other driver backed off claiming it was my fault.

And no I would not risk a head on collision .

Anticipation is important and I have practiced that in the 45 years since.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - catsdad
Not so glaikit then. ;-)
Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - Doc

. But this got me thinking, if there had been a car coming the other way (car 2) and I hit him, who would be at fault? Me or the guy who pulled out in front of me (car 1)?

The brutal truth is that you would be at fault. You have control of your steering wheel.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - ExA35Owner

Two principles:

Can't see, don't go;

Always assume the other driver is an even bigger fool than you are.

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - A Driver since 1988, HGV 2006

dam right, perfect mate

Swerving to avoid a crash (theoretical) - A Driver since 1988, HGV 2006

Hm thats interesting, I can tell you factually what the law would say, but admit being right is no comfort at all when the people you love are hurt ( supposing of course you had people in the car ), or for those with a conscience if the head on collision caused inhury or death to an innocent child in the oncoming veh, Thank you for the question it has got me thnking.

My sisters hubbie on approaching a roundabout, went over the white line and stopped, a speeding car came around the corner and hit his car from the side, the insurance company said it was 50/50, in other words both parties are in the wrong, had he stayed behind the line he would have been ok, but once you cross the line you are effectivly starting a manouvere, and if you dont complete it then the inusrance company/law will hold you accountable to some degree.

On the other hand we have all come across junctions where you just can't see because of high hedges or some obstruction, so you do the only thing you can do, edge out until you can see, and bang RTC.

I think the person who owns the land on which the obstruction is placed should be prosocuted, but thats not going to happen as we all know.

I do agree with not going across the other side of the road and involving an innocent party, as for the person who said it is your word against his is sorry simply wrong, they can tell from the impact point if the other car had in fact crossed the line by how far down the body of the car the dent is, also the give way means exactly that in all circumstances unless directed by police or some other official person.

For the car facing this car, as I said this has made me think, because we have all come across it, and hgv drivers more then anyone because people fail to realise that on these small roads we neeed to take some of your road as well, and before you say it we deliver on all roads, to farms in the middle of nowhere as well where the weight of the load means we have to take these small roads because vans are just too small, but to get back to the point.

The law states that you always have to drive with due care and attention, and as someone pointed out the limit is a guide not a target, if the road is twisty then you should not be doing the speed limit even in dry conditions, on blind bends you will mostly either get a traingle warning sign telling you of a dangerious bend, or the junction sign, or the black and white arrows, that is your sign to slow down by pressing the brake or just by taking your foot of the accelerater, leaning sideways in the drivers seat sometimes give you better visability, or even leaning slightly sideways.

The natural reaction is to swerve around and it is almost impossible to avoid your own natural reactions, if someone throws a pencil at you then you duck, so I guess there is no real answer and each one has to be judged on its merit.

For the other car he has only 2 choices, to edge out and rely on the other drivers to be going slow enough to see him, or just pull right out and hope for the best, I am sure most of you would choose the first..

One last thing, ask yourself a question .. Why is the view blocked at a junction sometimes, for most but not all it is deliberate ! Why what is the rule about driving on a blind bend, or blind part of the road in any situation, for example let us suppose you are approaching a pedestrian crossing, a high sided veh of some description clears teh crossing but because of traffic has stopped immediatly after the crossing travelling in the opposite direction.

On your approach you cant see whats on half the crossing because of this high sided veh, I can tell you most car drivers I have seen with my own eyes carry on across at the same speed, the answer ??

I you cant see whats coming assume that something is until you know for sure its clear, esp on crossings.,

I some occasions when I have had to bear the company of a drivers mate, I said to one once that the car in front of me had its door open, he was amazed i noticed, I said to him it is a potential hazard and my job to notice such things, it should be the same for all drivers, on teh example of the crossing I came across exactly that situation and although I didnt see anyone on the half of the crossing I could see, I slowed down to about 10 mph, until I could be sure that no one was coming across, when I go near a parade of shops in a village or anywhere, I look at all the kids because I am looking for the first sign they are going to run out on to the road, and finally much to the annoyance of other drivers, if I can stop safely and see children in the middle island, I stop and let them cross, car drivers I have seen rarely do that.


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