Griffin v Mersey Regional Ambulance: CA 8 Oct 1997

A driver who had crossed through a green traffic light but had collided with an ambulance was 60 per cent contributorily negligent. He had failed to hear the ambulance, had failed to see it, and had ignored unusal driving of other motorists.
Held: ‘In my judgment, the general approach of the judge below was entirely correct. He rightly identified the duty upon the defendants’ driver crossing this junction against the red light, as a high or heavy one, but equally rightly he recognised a duty of care upon the plaintiff beyond that of merely taking reasonable steps to avoid colliding with any vehicle crossing on red which he happened to see or otherwise be aware of. Rejecting, as I do, the application here of what is suggested to be the absolute rule in favour of traffic crossing a junction on green established in Joseph Eva Ltd v Reeves, it follows that, in my judgment, the appellant’s argument that there was no scope here for any finding of contributory negligence fails.’ The court emphasised that the nature of the duty owed by drivers crossing on green, in circumstances where emergency vehicles are crossing on red, is illuminated by regulation 33(2) of the 1994 Regulations. Simon Brown LJ also referred to rule 76 of the Highway Code providing: ‘Look and listen for ambulances . . or other emergency vehicles with flashing blue lights or sirens. Make room for them to pass (if necessary by moving to the side of the road and stopping) but do not endanger other road users.’
Simon Brown LJ, Rober Walker LJ
[1997] EWCA Civ 2441, [1998] PIQR 44
Traffic Signs And General Directions Order 1994 (1994 No 1519)
England and Wales
CitedJoseph Eva Ltd v Reeves CA 1938
An accident occurred when a police vehicle went through traffic lights at green, but on the wrong side of the road.
Held: A driver crossing through traffic lights at green owes no duty to traffic entering the crossing in disobedience to the . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Harris QBD 16-Mar-1994
The defence of necessity will be available only in exceptional circumstances even for police drivers driving in pursuit of a suspect. The care due from the driver of an emergency vehicle crossing a junction against red lights is specifically . .
CitedDavis v Hassan 1967
All cases calling for attribution of liaibility where an emergency vehicle is in collision with another vehicle fall to be decided on their own facts. . .

Cited by:
CitedPurdue v Devon Fire and Rescue Service CA 9-Oct-2002
The claimant was severely injured when, as he emerged through traffic lights as they turned green. He was in a collision with a fire engine driving in response to an emergency call-out. The driver of the fire engine said the claimant should have . .
CitedCraggy v Chief Constable of Cleveland Police CA 6-Oct-2009
The claimant was driving his fire engine on an emergency call. The defendant’s constable was similarly engaged. It was in the early hours, and they each went through the traffic junction. They crashed and the judge held both drivers negligent to the . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 23 April 2021; Ref: scu.142839