Table of Contents
Also by Tim Pears
In the Place of Fallen Leaves
In a Land of Plenty
A Revolution of the Sun
For Gabriel and Zosia
Collision Investigator's Report
On Friday 18 June 1996 I attended the scene of this incident on Fielding Avenue, Selly Oak, Birmingham, as part of my overall analysis. During my attendance I took various measurements and a series of digital photographs using a Kodak DC40 camera.1. THE CASE
1.1 The collision occurred at 8.03 p.m. on Saturday 4 April 1996, between a 1989 green Peugeot 205 Look, 4 cylinder, 1124 cc, petrol driven, manual 3-door hatchback car, driven by the Defendant, and a 1995 white Volvo FL7 Hook loader, multi-axle, rigid body, 32-ton skip lorry, driven by the Claimant.
1.2 The Claimant in this civil action is the Defendant in the criminal case concerning the same incident brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.2. THE LOCATION
2.1 The location of the incident is a dual carriageway urban road. When travelling west on the immediate approach to the collision scene the westbound carriageway is straight and flat, and consists of two lanes initially separated from the opposing carriageway by broken white lines leading to a central reservation which forms part of a pelican crossing.
2.2 The road is subject to a 40 mph speed limit on the approaches and throughout the scene, as clearly indicated by speed restriction signs.
2.3 Street lighting is present at the collision scene and consists of intermittent pole-mounted overhead sodium lamps on both sides of the road.
2.4 The pelican crossing consists of three pole-mounted traffic signals for each direction of travel: one directly facing traffic on the near side of the road and two facing traffic from the central reservation.
2.5 Pole-mounted green and red man signals are also provided on each side of the crossing, indicating for pedestrian use. All the traffic lights work in a standard sequence.
2.6 At the crossing the road bears an overall width of 10.2 m. Each crossing point on both sides of the road consists of a dropped kerb and tactile pavers. Pedestrian-operated demand buttons are present on the four signal poles at each corner of the crossing.
2.7 The crossing is preceded by a 17.3m zigzag zone leading up to a solid white âStop' line, a gap of 2.7 m, and then a line of studs delineating the crossing zone.3. THE INCIDENT
3.1 It is agreed by those involved and by witnesses that the two vehicles involved in the collision were the only vehicles on the westbound carriageway in the immediate vicinity. Both were in the nearside lane, the car in front of the lorry.
3.2 At the time of the incident it was dark. The weather is described as fine and clear, although there is conflicting witness evidence regarding whether the road surface
was wet or dry. According to the witness evidence, both front headlights of both the Peugeot 205 car and the Volvo lorry were displayed at the time of the incident.
3.3 The Claimant asserts that as the car, driven by the Defendant, approached the crossing, the traffic signals changed from red to green in its favour. He asserts that the car then began to accelerate towards the crossing, acting upon the reasonable assumption that the traffic signal would remain green until well after it had crossed. The Claimant also began to accelerate the lorry.
3.4 The Claimant asserts that as the car approached the pelican crossing it suddenly and without warning braked violently, and its wheels spun. The car slewed 90 degrees and came to an abrupt halt facing south across both lanes of the westbound carriageway in the middle of the pelican crossing.
3.5 The Claimant applied the brakes to his lorry but there was insufficient time or distance for the lorry to stop before colliding with the car. The front of the lorry collided with the passenger side of the car. The car was shunted for a distance of some twenty metres along the carriageway before both vehicles came to a stop.
3.6 This version of events is corroborated by the witness evidence of Mrs H, a cyclist who was positioned on the central reservation. She had crossed the eastbound dual carriageway of the crossing and was waiting to cross the westbound dual carriageway at the time of the incident.
3.7 This version of events is corroborated also by the witness evidence of Mr R, a pedestrian who had just crossed the westbound road at the pelican crossing from north to south. He had begun walking east along the pavement away from the crossing. His attention was drawn by the4. PHOTOS
sound of the Peugeot's tyres squealing upon braking and he turned in time to see the collision. It was Mr R who telephoned for the Accident & Emergency services on his mobile telephone.
Views westbound along Fielding Avenue towards the scene of the accident.
Image 45. THE CLAIM
5.1 It is the Claimant's contention that in braking so hard without reason or warning the Defendant invited the collision and was wholly responsible for it. The Claimant has never denied accelerating as he approached the pelican crossing, a course of action wholly reasonable given the traffic signal had just changed from red to green.
5.2 The Defendant has said that he braked to avoid hitting a brown mongrel dog that was crossing the road at the pelican crossing from north to south. He says that he was unable to avoid impact, catching the dog with the nearside of his front bumper, which impact he believes was responsible for his vehicle spinning round. Witness Mr R has said that he thinks he might have heard the sound of an impact before the car came to a halt, and before the lorry hit it, which could have been the sound of a dog being struck. Neither witness saw a dog. Nor did the Claimant.
5.3 Traces of brown canine hair and blood were found on the Peugeot front bumper. They have not been definitively dated to the time of the accident.
5.4 The fatality occurred to the passenger of the Peugeot. The driver of the Peugeot â the Defendant in this case â was taken by ambulance to hospital having suffered serious though not life-threatening injury.
5.5 The Claimant was hospitalised for one month after the accident. He has been unable to work since and although his appeal is pending he has no prospect of resuming driving work in the foreseeable future. He is seeking compensation for damage to health and loss of earnings.6. ANALYSIS & OPINION