Rider v Rider: CA 1973

The plaintiff was a passenger in a car which her husband was driving and which collided with a van. The husband had been driving too fast. The edge of the tarmac on the road abutted grass verges at a lower level and the edge had been inadequately repaired and in places ‘bitten off’ so as to have become uneven. The trial judge found that the nearside wheels of the car had encountered an indentation on the edge of the tarmac and that such was, as to two thirds, the cause of the husband’s loss of control. The highway authority was, as to two thirds, responsible for the collision. The driver who lost control of his vehicle as a result of carriageway edge deterioration was found one third to blame on the basis that he had special knowledge of the state of the road and was therefore driving too fast.
Held: The highway authority’s appeal was dismissed.
Sachs LJ described the authority’s statutory duty: ‘it is in my judgment clear that the corporation’s statutory duty under section 44 of the Act of 1959’ (the precursor of the current statutory position) ‘is reasonably to maintain and repair the highway so that it is free of danger to all users who use that highway in the way normally to be expected of them — taking account, of course, of the traffic reasonably to be expected on the particular highway. Motorists who thus use the highway, and to whom a duty is owed, are not to be expected by the authority all to be model drivers. Drivers in general are liable to make mistakes, including some rated as negligent by the courts, without being merely for that reason stigmatised as unreasonable or abnormal drivers; some drivers may be inexperienced, and some drivers may find themselves in difficulties from which the more adept could escape. The highway authority must provide not merely for model drivers, but for the normal run of drivers to be found on their highways, and that includes those who make the mistakes which experience and common sense teaches are likely to occur.’


Sachs LJ


[1973] 1 QB 505, [1973] RTR 178


England and Wales


ApprovedMorton v Wheeler CA 31-Jan-1956
Sharp spikes by the side of a highway were said to be a nuisance. Lord Denning MR said: ‘As all lawyers know, the tort of public nuisance is a curious mixture. It covers a multitude of sins. We are concerned to-day with only one of them, namely, a . .

Cited by:

CitedCenet v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council QBD 26-Jun-2008
Swift J stated that the highway must be ‘free of danger to all users who use the highway in a way normally expected of them’. . .
CitedJones v Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council CA 15-Jul-2008
The claimant, a fireman, sought damages for injuries suffered when he was injured answering a call out. He fell into a depressed area by the road side as he was pulling away a burning wooden pallet.
Held: The appeal was dismissed. The court . .
CitedRance v Essex County Council CA 21-Feb-1997
Appeal against refusal of claim against highway authority. The appellant was injured when her car crashed. A high volume of heavy goods vehicles had been using a local road, damaging the road and verges. Though the road was wide enough for her car . .
CitedKing Lifting Ltd v Oxfordshire County Council QBD 20-Jul-2016
A heavy crane had toppled from a road. The crane owners said that the highway authority were responsible for the poor condition of the road.
Held: The action failed. The evidence did not support the assertion that the accident arose from a . .
CitedWalsh v The Council of The Borough of Kirklees QBD 5-Mar-2019
No demonstrable error of assessment – no appeal
The claimant cyclist appealed from refusal of damages after being thrown from her bike on hitting a pothole in the road. The court had found it unproven that the pothole was dangerous.
Held: The evidence had been difficult. The court noted . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Road Traffic, Negligence

Updated: 12 April 2022; Ref: scu.511028