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What's the deal with unsecured loads?

MCN received an interesting question this week from reader Tony Roach. It’s a scenario that isn’t unfamiliar, however Tony’s case was somewhat bizarre due to the fact it involved a canoe on the M4!

Tony was riding along the M4 when a car ahead that was transporting two canoes on a roof rack shed one of its loads. The canoe that came loose hit the road, causing a car driver in another lane to swerve and nearly crash into Tony. He was very lucky and escaped the potential accident, but he asked MCN what would have happened if he had crashed and who would have been at fault? The driver who swerved to avoid the canoe or the driver who failed to secure his load? While it’s unlikely many of us will be forced to avoid a flying canoe, similar scenarios such as this one involving bits of wood, bicycles, rubbish and other unsecured items are relatively common. MCN asked our legal expect, Andrew Campbell from Bikelawyer, to clear up the situation.

“Drivers have to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy and any loads securely attached. Clearly the load (in this case, the canoe), was not securely attached and the driver’s insurer would be liable for injury and loss caused arising out of the negligent use of the vehicle,” said Andrew. “If the driver did not stop (he may have pulled off to stop to rescue the canoe or to contact the police) the M4 has CCTV so he could be traced. If not then it would be a case for the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to compensate under the Untraced Drivers Agreement. It is likely the car driver would not be held liable. If he were to be brought into proceedings he would likely add the van driver as another defendant hoping that his insurer would meet the claim in full.”

So should you encounter a wayward canoe on the M4 in the future, or any other random object that has escaped another vehicle, at least you now know who is to blame!


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