A B.C. driver claiming the public auto insurer improperly found him at fault for a collision in a Starbucks’ drive-through has lost his case that he wasn’t at fault because none of the line-up lanes had priority.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal of British Columbia found Starbucks’ drive-through is a “highway” under the rules of the province’s Highway Traffic Act, meaning merging cars must give right of way to through traffic.
“Section 1(c) of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) defines a ‘highway’ as including every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of parking or servicing vehicles, has access or is invited,” CRT vice chair Andrea Ritchie wrote in her Oct. 10 decision in favour of the Insurance Corporation of B.C. “So, I find the parking lot was a highway for the purposes of this claim….
“Section 175 of the MVA says that when entering a through highway, a driver must yield the right of way to traffic that has entered the intersection on the through highway or is approaching so closely that it constitutes an immediate hazard. Based on the evidence before me, I find [the claimant] did not yield the right of way to [the] vehicle that was already positioned and moving in the through lane.”
In Yoon v. ICBC, Samuel Yoon and Ghung Pham were both in separate lines in a parking lot March 29, 2020, waiting for the Starbucks drive-through. The two lines converged before the ordering station.
Pham waited in a line that went straight through the parking lot to the ordering station with no turns. Yoon’s car was perpendicular to that, and had to turn right into Pham’s line-up to reach the ordering station. Yoon made the turn and collided with Pham’s vehicle.
ICBC found Yoon was the “merging party,” so it was his responsibility to yield to Pham’s vehicle. Since he did not, the public insurer found Yoon 100% responsible for the collision.
Yoon took exception to the insurer’s finding, providing to the CRT a brief email from the Starbucks’ district manager to back him up. The Starbucks manager advised there is no specific line for guests to line up in the drive-through, and that vehicles may line up in whatever direction is safe. Yoon argued he was not “merging,” since the vehicles in each line had equal rights to the lane.
But the CRT dismissed Yoon’s case, finding he had to make a turn to get into the ordering station, meaning he had to yield to drivers waiting in the through line-up.
“Despite Mr. Yoon’s assertions, I find that his line of vehicles did need to merge into Mr. Pham’s line of vehicles to reach the ordering station,” Ritchie wrote. “Regardless of having no line ‘priority,’ the commonsense fact is that, to place an order at the drive-[through], Mr. Yoon had to turn right and merge into Mr. Pham’s established lane of travel.”
Ritchie also did not accept Yoon’s argument that his vehicle was completely stopped when the collision occurred. She found the dash cam video Yoon entered as evidence stopped before the accident had occurred, and so it did not corroborate his claim that the car wasn’t moving when the collision occurred.
Feature photo courtesy of iStock.com/hapabapa