Tag Archives: motoring

Angling for the liability of Route Notes in Rallying

October 24, 2010


Munro v. Sturrock (T/a Scotmaps) [2010] CSOH 16

This case concerns a rally accident during the “The Little the Jewellers Speyside Stages 2004” rally in Scotland. The pursuer (claimant) was an experienced racer and double Scottish Champion. On the day in question, he was driving a Subaru Impreza, while his co-driver Heather Connon (now MacKenzie) navigated. The claim results from a crash that occurred on the 7th junction during the 6th of the 9 rally stages, just outside Clashindarroch, when the car ran wide at the bend and onto the offside banking, damaging the car and allegedly causing psychiatric injuries to Munro.

Munro later brought a case alleging that the description of the corner in question in the route notes had been negligently compiled  and it was this failure that caused the accident.

The Court heard plenty of evidence regarding the status of route notes, in particular their inherent subjectivity and the fact that one driver made these notes for 120 other drivers of differing ability [39]. Indeed, the reliance placed on these notes can be demonstrated by the fact that the organisers of the Speyside rally had prohibited reconnaissance runs by competitors under pain of disqualification. Instead for £100, the defendants provided route notes and an accompanying DVD “describing the road and bends accurately, including any hazards that are known at the time” [2]. This description consisted of an abbreviated angle (40 degrees=4), a direction (eg L or R) and any additional information relevant to the correct line to take around the corner (eg “In” [take a tight line], or “Cut” [the corner]).

The Court later heard at [13] that route notes had three main purposes:

  1. To reduce the advantage gained by cheats using other notes
  2. To reduce the advantage of those with local knowledge
  3. To make the rally safer, by providing drivers with a shorthand description of what the road was doing

The main thrust of the pursuer’s argument was that the corner should not have been designated as 4Lin, but rather as 7, as it had been previously described in 2001. Had the corner been described differently, the pursuer states that he would have approached it much slower than the 70mph and fifth gear in which he attempted it.

Initially his case seemed to be supported by a “smoking gun” email written in haste by Andrew Kelly (who helped check the route notes):

“On the basis of your information it would appear that Bill [Sturrock] has made a massive error in his route notes. As you know I’m the one that checks notes with him on the day and therefore, if this is correct, I must accept some degree of responsibility… I have no idea how I could have got this corner wrong as even in the Volvo I would have thought I would have noticed such a difference. I feel really bad about this and I am extremely disappointed in my own ability as a so-called rally driver.” [34]

At trial however, Mr Kelly couldn’t have navigated faster away from this email though and he was supported by the expert witnesses who, in the main, suggested that mathematical measurements proved the corner was 30-40 degrees. The judge (Lord Uist) agreed and seemed particularly unsympathetic to the fact that previous route notes may have contained different descriptions as this was not the accident being discussed at the trial [44]. Unfortunately for us, this conclusion also meant that the route notes were accurate and therefore the case could be disposed of without any discussion of how the standard of care test would have been applied. This is a a shame as a liability discussion would have been very interesting given that the Court would have needed to balance the obvious reliance placed on the notes by the drivers and navigators, with the subjective and scientifically unsupported nature of the instructions.

Youtube Clip of another WRC rally accident which captures the inherent risks involved in racing:

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Parker dropped for DUI

February 18, 2009


ESPN reports that Preston Parker (Florida State Junior Receiver) has been dismissed from the school team after being arrested for the second time in less than a year (the other charges being for weapons and drugs. In 2006, he was also arrested for the alleged theft of a DVD).

This time, Tallahassee police found 21-year-old Parker, asleep in his car with the engine running in a drive-thru McDonalds lane and arrested him for driving under the influence, once officers had banged on the window to wake him that is. Although Parker admitted to drinking and smoking earlier that evening, his blood-alcohol content was 0.054 below the Florida legal limit of 0.08. Police sources have said though that a urine sample was a “presumptive positive” for marijuana.

Parker was freed the following day from the Leon County Jail on $500 bail.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3879281&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines ; http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3874714&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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Jason Richardson arrested for Speeding

February 16, 2009


ESPN report that: Jason Richardson (Guard for Phoenix Suns Basketball Team) was arrested Sunday night in Scottsdale, Arizona and charged with reckless driving, excessive speeding and failure to use a child seat for his 3 year old son, who was in the back seat of the car.

Richardson allegedly was driving at 67mph in a 40 mph zone, although police sources say this later increased to 90mph in a 35mph zone, before he was pulled over by officers.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3910921&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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DUI charge for Sanders

February 11, 2009


ESPN have announced that West Virginia receiver/running back Jock Sanders was suspended indefinitely from the team on Tuesday in the wake of a DUI arrest over the weekend.

The university announced the suspension, which is pending the legal process in Sanders’ case, with a brief prepared statement and offered no additional comment. Earlier, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said through a school spokesman that he was looking into the situation and would “take appropriate action once all the facts are in.”

Sanders, a junior, was seen speeding near campus and crossing the center lane in a black Dodge Charger early Saturday, according to an arrest report filed in Monongalia County Magistrate Court. Officer C.L. Thomas approached Sanders’ car in a parking lot and reported that he could smell alcohol on Sanders’ breath, the report said. When asked if he had been drinking, the 20-year-old Sanders responded “a little,” according to the report. Sanders then failed three out of four field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol level of .125, the report said. The legal limit in West Virginia is .08.

This is Sanders’ second arrest in the past year. He was one of four West Virginia players who were arrested in connection with a fight at a club last February. They were charged in March with battery and each pleaded no contest, receiving a fine and community service hours.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3896593&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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Drink-Driving Charge

February 11, 2009


The BBC Website reports that Chelsea and Nigeria player John Mikel Obi has been charged with drinking and driving. The midfielder was arrested at 0530 GMT on Saturday on Fulham Road in west London, near to the Premier League club’s ground, police said. He is due to appear at West London Magistrates’ Court on 3 April.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7850918.stm

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Tevez’s Bentley seized

February 11, 2009


The 25-year-old Manchester United and Argentina international was stopped by traffic officers close to Junction 7 on the M60 near Stretford, Greater Manchester . His car has been impounded.

A Police Spokesman confirmed that: “The officers were concerned certain windows were illegally tinted. They were tested and found to be too dark so a prohibition notice was issued to the driver. When asked to provide his documentation, it was discovered the driver did not have a full UK driving licence and was advised to arrange removal of the car. As he could not arrange this, the car was removed under Section 165 of Road Traffic Act 1988.”

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/7876308.stm

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Prison football

January 29, 2009


Former Plymouth Argyll goalkeeper, Luke McCormick (who was recently jailed after killing two young boys in a crash while drunk behind the wheel) has been signed up to for the Channings Wood Prison football team. Apparently, prison team officials have now sent a registration form to the South Devon League requesting McCormick be allowed to play for their Division Two side.

League secretary Lisa Buley told Sky News Online: “I think it’s poor taste him getting permission to play, but our hands have been tied by the FA. Personally, as a mother-of-two, I don’t think he should be allowed to because those two little boys he killed will not play football again, but we can’t bring our personal views into it.

The final say now rests with the prison’s governor Jeannine Hendrick, who is understood to be backtracking on McCormick’s league registration. The prison refused to discuss the matter when contacted by Sky. A spokeswoman would only say: “We do not comment on individual prisoners.”

Source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Luke-McCormick-Causes-Storm-After-Being-Signed-Up-To-Play-For-Prison-Football-Team/Article/200901415210692?f=rss

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