COLLISION WITH A STATIONERY OBJECT
It was hardly surprising to note with concern and alarm that as at Christmas day, Netcare Medical Rescue Services has been called on to attend and assist at no less then 1000 motor accident scenes at which no less then 600 deaths were noted, and many were injured. This is their tally since the beginning of the holiday period. Of course the number of accidents, deaths and injuries will increase steadily until the holiday season is over.
Digesting these figures, alerted my attention to the recent case which went to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Flanders v Trans Zambezi Express (54/08)  ZASCA 152 (27 November 2008)
"This appeal arises from a collision between a passenger bus, owned by the first respondent and driven by the second respondent, and a stationary Puma army vehicle belonging to the Zimbabwean Defence Force. The collision occurred during the early hours of 12 April 2001 on the road south of Masvingo in Zimbabwe.
Eight of the passengers on the bus were killed in the accident and many of them were injured, including the two appellants. This gave rise to a consolidated action in the Cape High Court by the appellants (as plaintiffs), claiming damages from the respondents jointly and severally"
The Learned Acting Judge of Appeal continued at numbered paragraph 3-7 by stating:
In the area where the collision occurred, the road has a tarred surface with two single lanes carrying traffic in opposite directions. The two lanes are separated by a broken white line down the centre of the road. Each lane is 3,3 m wide, measured from the inside of the broken white line to the inside of the broken yellow lines demarcating the tarred shoulders of the road on both sides. The tarred shoulders on either side of the road surface are 1,6 m wide, including the width of the yellow line of 0,1 m. The width of the bus was 2,6 m, thus leaving a space of 35 cm on either side between the bus and the yellow and white lines when travelling down the centre of the lane. Approaching the scene of the accident from the north, ,the road was level and straight for approximately 2 km prior to the point of impact. Proceeding beyond that point, the road continues straight for approximately 300 m before it enters a gradual bend to the right. At the time of the collision, it was dark with no artificial lights in the vicinity; the sky was clear and starry and there may have been the light of a half moon
The extent to which the Puma protruded over the yellow line was also uncertain. Some of the witnesses estimated that the Puma obstructed at least half of the left lane of the road. Based on the objective evidence, it was calculated by the respondents’ expert, Prof Hillman, that the protrusion into the lane would have been some 83 cm beyond the yellow lane. The full court found it ‘impossible to determine with any degree of certainty how far the body of the Puma protruded into the left lane of the road’ save to find that the Puma ‘posed a definite obstruction to traffic moving in the left lane and that the bus would not have been able to pass the Puma without the bus moving onto the incorrect side of the road’. In the event, the left front of the bus collided with the protruding right rear corner of the Puma, which caused the whole of the left side of the bus to be sheared open