Proud to be celebrating 170 years in business

Duties of road users: Do you know them?

As many of us return to travelling on the public highways following lockdown, there is also likely to be more accidents on the roads. These accidents could include vehicle users, pedestrians, cyclists and many other categories.

So, do you know what your duties are?

There is no change in the duty of care owed by road users pre or post lockdown. In general, a road user owes a duty to take reasonable care to avoid doing or omitting to do anything that they can reasonably foresee would cause injury to others. It is not relevant that the road user might not be able to foresee injury to the particular road user that suffers injury. All that needs to be shown is that the road user would be able to foresee injury to other road users in general.

In the context of road traffic accident claims, the duty requires a road user to drive with ordinary care and skill, ie the care and skill of the average motorist. This could be ensuring that you pay attention to the road and do not use the highway in such a way that might be dangerous to yourself and others

The standard of care is objective and therefore it is not a Defence to a claim to argue that a poor driver was taking all the care of which they were capable. However, a person is not obliged to drive flawlessly. An example of this could occur where a driver swerves to avoid an obstacle on the road.

Indeed, there are other circumstances in which a driver will escape liability. I have personally met a defence to a claim where the driver of a vehicle which collided with my client’s suffered a medical emergency just prior to the collision rendering the accident unavoidable in all the circumstances.

What about learner drivers? Do they have less of a duty of care?

The short answer is no. The inexperience of a learner driver is no defence to a claim against them even by their driving instructor. However, the supervision of the instruction given to a learner driver by their supervisor will be scrutinised. In the alternative, a learner diver may wish to claim from their supervisor. Such a situation arose in Gibbon v Priestly (1979) where it was held that a test examiner’s duties are to assess the candidate’s competence and they should only interfere if necessary to avoid danger to anyone, including themselves and the candidate.

A claim brought for personal injuries in the situations outlined above, are generally brought in negligence. Each case will be viewed differently and on their own merits.

Johnathan Steventon-Kiy, specialist personal injury lawyer, says:

“It is important that an experienced specialist solicitor assists the Claimant to ensure that liability in road traffic accidents can be established and the correct amount of compensation is received. The specialist solicitors in Biscoes Personal Injury team have many years of experience pursuing these sorts of cases where complex issues regarding road use and duties of care have arisen. We act for the majority of our clients on a no win no fee basis.”

Contact our specialist personal injury, medical negligence and industrial disease solicitors on 02392 660 261, email or visit for more information. You can also follow us on twitter using the handle @biscoesmedneg

For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.