The Code writers need to either:
1. make it real clear that lane-changers (or people who decide to make wider turns after a series of shorter turns, or those who head across a slope after heading downhill for a while) need to look uphill before making big changes that might catch uphill skiers off guard, or ...
2. uphill skiers are responsible for avoiding colliding with downhill skiers, downhill meaning taking gravity into effect and scanning from 9:00 to 3:00, that responsibility being the uphill person's no matter how unanticipated nor stupid the move of the downhill skier.
- Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
I still don't understand how you can not get something like interpretation #2 out of that. But if it needs to be modified to make that clearer I'm all for it.
Interpretation #1 is, IMO, dangerous, and any definition you can come up with for what is a 'lane change' is going to be really really arbitrary (unless you want to go and paint lanes on the snow every morning!) Trying to maintain 'uphill' situational awareness is a nice thing to do, but I just don't see how it can be realistically counted on. No matter how careful the people 'below' you are: 1) they can't be constantly looking 'uphill' for practical reasons, and 2) they could have to make emergency maneuvers at any time -- or they could just catch an edge or have and equipment problem and fall. It seems awfully silly to me if you start saying things like 'well, you should have looked uphill before losing a ski and falling down, otherwise it's your fault if you get run over'.
There are situations where who is "ahead" is not clear. None of the examples I've seen in this thread fall in that category IMO. Someone downhill and off to the side -- but easily visible and obviously capable of turning in front of you -- is still "ahead" of you in such a way that you are responsible for avoiding them. At least to me. If you don't think so we'll just have to agree to disagree...
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
We might consider, should any of us be involved in rewriting the Code, that "braking distance" is a good concept. Any skier or rider needs to maintain braking distance from all others ahead, meaning 9:00 to 3:00 down the hill from them. Braking distance in a car means directly behind; on snow it means to the side as well.
This just can't be said easily in a few words. What a shame.
The same basic concept applies with driving or skiing -- or just about any activity where you might hurt someone. You have to take reasonable precaution to avoid hurting anyone else. If push comes to shove legally, that's what matters*. Unless you're in a state where the standard for liability in something like this is higher than ordinary negligence. Then generally the standard becomes 'recklessness' or 'gross negligence', which are vague but seem to mean your idiocy has to really go above and beyond before you're liable.
With driving there are much stricter rules about who is allowed to go where and when and how fast, and the 'terrain' is much more standardized. That makes it much easier to formalize the 'rules of the road' in such a way that there is little or no room for interpretation in any situation. This is just not going to happen with skiing unless you put a lot more restrictions on what people are allowed to do.
If the standard for liability is ordinary negligence then you're not necessarily on the hook for absolutely anything the 'downhill' skier could do. Just what a reasonable person could have foreseen or anticipated. To me that would include a lot of leeway for other skiers making sudden turns or having to react quickly to some hard-to-see obstacle. But it doesn't include everything. For instance, there was a case a couple years ago that got a lot of press -- an Italian politician was skiing and cut across and uphill through an intersection at high speed and hit someone head-on (more or less), killing them. It's hard to say you could reasonably anticipate something like that any more than you could anticipate, say, someone coming up a highway on-ramp the wrong way.
*IANAL. My understanding is that something like 'the Code' might be evidence of best practices that a reasonable person should know about, but the standard is still reasonable precaution. In some states (including CO) something very much like 'the Code' is enshrined in state law and so it might matter more there.