Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Insurance Helpline | It matters how drivers position to turn

Published:Sunday | August 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM


ON DECEMBER 16, 2015, I was in the middle lane on HalfWay Tree Road (in front of the FLOW/Lime Store). It was my intention to turn right into Oxford Road. A Honda Fit was in the right (lane), making the same turn. As we turned, I just felt a tug in the right side of my car. This was (caused by) the Honda Fit. I reported the matter to the police and also to my insurance company. My insurers contacted the third-party insurers and they refused to accept liability. They said that there was only one turning light, which was (for vehicles) in the right lane. My insurers say that they will be settling the third party’s claim. I objected and suggested that both parties fix their respective cars since we were both at fault. Both lanes are used by thousands of motorists daily to enter Oxford Road. My insurers insist that they will have to pay because there was only one turning light. Motorists are not prosecuted for turning by the police and the third party hit my car. I would appreciate your advice as to how this matter can be settled with insurance to both parties. 


I do not agree that the accident was caused by both parties. The insurance companies are right. You do not have a leg to stand on! By positioning your vehicle in the middle lane, you signalled to the Honda Fit driver that you intended to continue straight along that roadway. Instead, you made a sharp and unexpected right turn in front of the other car. These two deliberate actions on your part led to the collision.

Was the other driver my friend, a family member or, did I witness the accident? No to all three.




There are four reasons for my conclusion: 1) I am familiar with the scene of the accident and the traffic signals; 2) 40 years of driving experience; 3) my nearly 20 years' professional experience in researching and analysing motor vehicle accidents; and 4) the independent knowledge and expertise of local experts on the road code.

I studied two books before I attempted my driving tests at the Spanish Town Road Examination Depot in 1971. One was a 400-plus page tome that my twin brother bought in the United Kingdom in order to obtain a drive permit in that country. It covered virtually everything one should know about driving. The other was a red booklet written by Cliff Hylton, which was first published in 1965, called The Road Code.

The booklet is now in its ninth edition. It was renamed The Jamaican Driver's Guide. It is one of two authoritative local guides about driving.

When Mr Hylton and I spoke by telephone last week I sought his permission to use the illustration that accompanies this article he said that the booklet was used as a source of reference by the country's two main local law enforcement agencies, The Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force.

The diagram that is reproduced provides an imprecise drawing of the accident scene. Car No. 2, represents the Honda Fit. It is positioned to make a right turn into the other roadway, which, for the purposes of the illustration, is Oxford Road. Your vehicle is car No. 3. The cars numbered 1 and 3 are properly positioned to make a left turn or proceed straight ahead and continue straight ahead, respectively. Oxford Road, at that particular point, allows a single lane of traffic from Half-Way Tree Road. Perhaps because you have seen other drivers execute a similar move, you decided that it was okay to do so. According to the road code, it was not allowable.

The Jamaican Road User's Guide is the other local resource. It was published in 1997 and marketed as "a serious guide that appeals to local and international drivers". What I particularly like about it, is that it contains 119 questions that can be used to evaluate the knowledge of drivers about the road code. Here are some excerpts from it in relation to what it calls a road "junction operation" (Pages 44-45):

1. "Well before you reach a junction, make sure that you are in the appropriate lane for turning or going straight ahead;

2. "When turning at a junction, position your vehicle correctly, give the proper signal then make your turn cautiously ... ."

Also, here are two sample multiple choice questions/ answers that relate to making right turns and lane discipline that are relevant to the collision:

"Question 17: What position on the road should you be in before making a right turn?

a) Lane nearest the left curb.

b) It does not matter if you give the proper signal.

c) Lane nearest the centre of the road.

"Question 32: What is the (correct) routine in lane discipline?

a) Signal-mirrors-manoeuvre;

b) Manoeuvre-mirrors-signal;

c) Mirrors-signal-manoeuvre;

d) Manoeuvre-signal mirrors."

The correct answers in both cases are c).

When the new Road Traffic Act is enacted, the list of offences under which motorists can be prosecuted will be increased to include manoeuvres like those you and others execute. The penalties for violations will also be revised.

May I suggest that you consider adding the two guides to your library. When you start to apply the information that they contain, you'll find it much easier to retain your no-claims discount.

- Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, write to: