What the Courts expect from motorists- be vigilant at all times!

PUBLISHED 29 Dec 2015

A recent New South Wales Court of Appeal case; Allen v Robbie [2015] NSWCA 247 (Allen) served to revisit the legal rules and principles of the standard of care expected from motorists on the road and the extent as to when there is a breach of this standard of care.


At about 12:20pm on 15 April 2010, Ms Allen was preparing to drive her white 1995 Corolla Seca sedan out of the supermarket premises using the exit driveway where she intended to turn right across lanes of traffic coming from both her left and right direction at the Great Western Highway.

Meanwhile, Ms Robbie, alighted from her car with the intention of crossing the highway to purchase groceries at the supermarket. In cross examination, it was admitted that Ms Robbie could see Ms Allen’s vehicle and thus it was implicit that Ms Allen should have seen Ms Robbie and should have exercised caution or effectively allowed Ms Robbie to cross.   As Ms Robbie was crossing the highway, Ms Allen in the process of turning right collided into Ms Robbie, knocking her to the ground.

Was Ms Allen in breach of her standard of care as a driver in this accident?

Harrison J of the New South Wales Court of Appeal revisited the standard of care expected from motorists in that the general rule did not confer an expectation on a driver to anticipate everything that a pedestrian might do at all stages of every journey, The present case could be distinguished on the fact that Ms Allen proceeded to turn right at much the same time Ms Robbie commenced to cross the road. On this factual finding it was held that Ms Allen as a motorist was expected to exercise a standard of care not to strike a pedestrian in her path or a pedestrian that was moving in a direction that would bring the pedestrian into a collision with the driver.

The moral of the story and the points to be taken away from this case is to remind pedestrians and motorists of the importance in exercising and maintaining a proper and vigilant look out when using or negotiating the road.

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