The appeal from a judgment in favor of Charlie M. Severin in an action for the recovery of damages assertedly sustained at the time of the collision of two automobiles, principally concerns the applicability of section 531(a) of the Vehicle Code. That statute fixes a rule of conduct for a driver following another automobile. The car driven by George W. Landrum collided with the one operated by Severin, who was making a left turn in front of it. Landrum contends that it was prejudicial error for the court, at the request of Severin, to instruct the jury in the terms of the statute.
The record shows that Landrum was traveling north in the inside lane of San Fernando Road. Severin approached the intersection of Roxford Street from the opposite direction. When approximately 100 feet from the intersection, he gave a hand signal for a left turn onto Roxford Street. He had then slowed his car to a speed of 15 or 18 miles per hour.
According to the evidence, in approaching Roxford Street, Landrum was following another automobile at a distance of 15 to 17 feet. The speed of his automobile was 20 to 35 miles per hour. The car ahead of his proceeded through the intersection, passing behind the Severin automobile which was then struck by Landrum's car.
Upon request of Severin, the jury was instructed that, as provided by the California Vehicle Code, "The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway." Landrum takes the position that this instruction was prejudicially erroneous because: (1) There is
Landrum asserts that the only evidence concerning his car with relation to the vehicle preceding it related to a time prior to reaching the intersection. According to him, he was then driving at a speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour and a much greater distance behind the vehicle preceding him than one car length. As he reached the intersection of Roxford Street, the automobile in front of him slowed down a little. He immediately lessened the speed of his car, he said, so that the gap between them decreased to a car length when he reached the intersection.
In Lewis v. Western Truck Line, 44 Cal.App.2d 455 [112 P.2d 747], some witnesses estimated the distance between the two vehicles as being between 100 and 200 feet, and their speed at 28 or 30 miles per hour. The collision occurred upon a highway, not a city street. An instruction in the words of the statute was held proper. The record in Rodriguez v. Savage Transportation Co., 77 Cal.App.2d 162 [175 P.2d 37], shows testimony that the distance between the second and third truck was 60 feet and the speed of the third truck 40 miles per hour. The fourth truck, traveling at 45 miles per hour, was following at a distance of 50 feet.
The record does not clearly indicate the events which transpired just prior to the collision. Counsel for Severin argue that, as the lead vehicle decreased its speed, Landrum was required to turn sharply to the right to avoid a rear-end collision. In doing so the Landrum automobile passed into the outside lane where it collided with the one driven by Severin.
There is no direct evidence that the accident occurred in this way. It is clear from the record that the point of impact was in the outside lane, near the easterly curb of San Fernando Road. The Severin automobile was struck on the right front portion. Landrum offered no explanation of how his automobile came to be in the outside lane, but testified that he did not attempt to "go to the right" of the automobile preceding him. However, his automobile moved from the inside to the outside lane.
The evidence also clearly shows that Landrum was unable to see the Severin automobile until the car which he was following had passed into the intersection. A reasonable inference from this evidence is that, had Landrum been following at a reasonable and prudent distance, he would have seen the Severin automobile in time to avert a collision. This
The final contention is that the trial court abused its discretion in denying their motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence. The motion was supported by the affidavits of three persons, strangers to the action, to the effect that Severin made an abrupt left turn without stopping and drove directly into the path of the Landrum automobile, which was being operated in a careful and cautious manner. This evidence would support Landrum's testimony and contradict the evidence offered by Severin.
The judgment is affirmed. The purported appeal from the order denying a new trial is dismissed.
Gibson, C.J., Shenk, J., Carter, J., Traynor, J., Schauer, J., and Spence, J., concurred.