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Transports Frigoriphiques Laurent v Transportes Olloquiegui

12 June 2000
The issues

Following a Leading Vehicle – Motorway

The facts

An accident occurred between the TFL’s lorry and the TO’s lorry.

The TO’s lorry was accepted as being defective due to the negligence of another party. The defect triggered emergency brakes and caused the lorry to come to an abrupt and immediate halt without the rear brake lights coming on. Between the TO’s lorry and the TFL’s lorry were two private cars. The TFL’s lorry was travelling at about 50 mph. The cars pulled over to the hard shoulder and stopped. The driver of the TFL’s lorry could neither pull over to the hard shoulder where the cars were now stationery or into the right hand fast lane where cars were travelling in the same direction. The lorry began to brake but was unable to come to a halt before colliding heavily with the rear of the TO’s lorry causing damage to the TFL’s lorry and slight damage to the TO’s lorry. The TO argued that the TFL’s driver should have known to keep at a safe distance and speed from the leading vehicle and that the speed that he was travelling at should have been such as to allow him to stop the vehicle in the case of an emergency. The TFL argued that there was such an immediate stop that the accident was inevitable and unavoidable and that no amount of skill or road awareness on behalf of the following driver could have avoided it.

The decision

1. Safe driving speeds and distances were speeds at which a driver was capable of dealing with foreseeable emergencies.

2. The abrupt and immediate halt of the TO’s lorry was not a foreseeable occurrence.

3. The fact that the halt was abrupt and immediate was supported by the fact that the following cars only had to pull onto the hard shoulder rather than apply their brakes.

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