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Canoe conundrum


Last weekend I was riding down to West Wales in the middle lane of the M4 motorway. Quite some way ahead of me in the inside lane was a transit van with two canoes on the roof. The green one suddenly came loose and flew through the air across the motorway towards the outside lane. The car driver in the outside lane suddenly steered left to avoid the canoe hurtling towards him and I braked as hard as I could in my lane. The canoe glanced off the front right of the car in the outside lane and ended up against the central reservation. That driver and I were lucky not to be killed, me by both the canoe and the car driver suddenly swerving across my front. Fortunately it doesn’t appear anyone was injured but it got me thinking. If the car driver had taken me out would that be his fault? The transit driver pulled off the motorway at the next exit – not sure if he had any idea what had happened.

Tony Roach, by e-mail



It sounds like you had a very lucky escape! Drivers have to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy and any loads securely attached. Clearly the load in this case, the canoe, was not securely attached and the driver’s insurer would be liable for injury and loss caused arising out of the negligent use of the vehicle. If the driver did not stop (he may have pulled off the motorway to stop and rescue the canoe or contact the police) then the M4 has CCTV so he probably could be traced. If he cannot then it is a case for the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to compensate under the Untraced Drivers Agreement. It is likely the car driver would not be held liable and if he were to be brought into legal proceedings he would likely add the transit van driver as another Defendant hooping his insurer would meet the claim in full. Only if you could establish negligence against the car driver would he be in any way liable. He was, after all, acting in the heat of the moment faced with the same danger as you were.



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