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May v. Warnick

Decided: November 20, 1961.

MAY
v.
WARNICK, ETC. ET AL.



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Allegany County; Harris, C. J.

Brune, C. J., and Prescott, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Prescott, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

Prescott

As a result of a collision on May 6, 1959, between a pickup truck and a Ford automobile, two suits were instituted in the Circuit Court for Allegany County. One was by the appellant May, the owner and operator of the Ford, against the appellee Warnick, the operator of the truck, and his employer (the owner of the truck), Feldstein Iron & Metal Company, for personal injuries to May and property damage to his car; the other was by the appellee, Warnick, for his own use and to the use of the State Accident Fund, for personal injuries and loss of wages. The cases were consolidated and tried before a court and jury, resulting in a verdict and a judgment for costs against May in the first case, and a verdict and judgment in the amount of $10,000 in favor of the plaintiff against May in the second one. May appeals from both judgments.

Only two questions are presented: First, did the trial court err in its instructions to the jury? Second, did said Court err in failing to direct a verdict in favor of May in the case brought against him by Warnick?

The accident occurred on a clear morning on Bedford Street in the City of Cumberland. Bedford Street in the vicinity of the accident is a straight, macadam surfaced, almost level, one-way, two-lane, through roadway, 20 feet in width, with all traffic moving in a southerly direction. It constitutes a segment of U. S. Route 220 bringing traffic into the City from the north. Frederick Street, one block to the east, parallels Bedford Street, and provides one-way traffic for vehicles moving north on said Route 220. Valentine Street is a two-way street running east and west and intersects both streets at right angles, but does not cross either.

May and Warnick gave conflicting accounts of how the accident happened. Warnick testified that he intended to make a left turn into Valentine Street from Bedford Street. He looked into his rear view mirror and saw no traffic on the highway. When about 150 or 200 feet from the intersection, he drove his vehicle from the right lane of traffic into the left lane, gave a hand signal and, while turning into Valentine Street, was struck on the left side by the right front end of the May vehicle. May stated that he was following Warnick's truck in the right-hand lane of traffic, and, when about three blocks from Valentine Street, pulled into the left lane and started to pass the truck. Warnick speeded up a little and May dropped back with both vehicles moving in their respective lanes of traffic. When they reached the intersection of Valentine Street the Warnick truck attempted to make a left turn from the right-hand lane of traffic and the right front end of the May car collided with the left door of the pick-up truck, causing the damages and injuries complained of in both suits. May's version of the accident was corroborated, at least in part, by the testimony of a disinterested motorist, who was following both vehicles south on Bedford Street, and by a City Police Officer, who investigated the accident and took photographs of the accident, which were produced at the trial.

The trial judge denied May's motion for a directed verdict in the case where he was the defendant; and, over his objection, instructed the jury that in determining negligence or contributory negligence by the operators of the vehicles, "there are certain statutes or 'rules of the road,' which motorists must abide by * * *," and included in his instructions Code (1957), Article 66 1/2, Section 221, Subsections (a), (b) and (b) (2), the latter of which states that a vehicle shall not be "driven to the left side of the roadway" when approaching within 100 feet of, or traversing, any intersection, informing the jury that said subsections were applicable to the case and could be considered by them in determining whether May was negligent.

Our principal inquiry is whether the said provisions of Section 221 which were included in the court's charge apply to highways designated for one-way traffic.*fn1 The rules that

govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction are, for the main part, contained in Sections 217, 219, 220, 221, and 223. Section 217, in part, requires that upon all highways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half thereof, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, and when proceeding upon a roadway divided into three marked lanes or a one-way thoroughfare. Section 219 provides, among other things, that, subject to limitations and exceptions, drivers of motor vehicles overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof. Section 220 states that a driver may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle which is making, or about to make, a left turn; that, within business and residential districts, a driver may overtake and, allowing sufficient clearance, pass another vehicle moving in the same direction, either on the right or left, on a highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for four or more lines of moving traffic, when such movement may be made with safety; and that overtaking and passing to the right is permitted on one-way streets, where the roadway is free of obstructions and of sufficient width to accommodate at least two lines of moving traffic.*fn2 Section 221 is set forth in footnote (1). Section 223 provides, ...


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