We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Another dip into the reader mailbag

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, July 22nd 2016

Unless otherwise marked, bike lanes are only for traveling in the same direction as other vehicular traffic.

Wendy wanted to know what drivers are required to do when they encounter emergency vehicles with lights sounding and sirens sounding.

Drivers must pull to the closest side of the road, usually the right side, and stop. Slowing does not satisfy the requirement of the Motor Vehicle Act. The duty to pull over doesn’t apply, however, if the highway or roadway is separated by a physical median or boulevard and the emergency vehicle is on the other side.

Since sound is much easier to hear when an ambulance, fire truck or police vehicle is traveling away from you, many drivers are surprised by the close proximity of emergency vehicles approaching from all directions. Drivers who see or hear these emergency vehicles should immediately activate their four-way flashers, to warn others of an unpredictable upcoming situation.

Drivers must remain stationary until the emergency vehicle has vacated the immediate area. Emergency-vehicle drivers are very skilled and practiced in their chosen profession. They encounter all sorts of unaware, distracted and generally out-to-lunch drivers and look good doing it.

Shelley asked why drivers cut back to the right lane soon after passing her on a multi-lane highway, when she is the only one on the road and there is ample time and space for them to delay the return to the right lane.

There are a few reasons for this goofy behaviour. Most drivers take their foot off the accelerator prematurely when returning to the right lane. This causes the driver being passed to slow as well and possibly brake.

Some drivers are also paranoid about the new law that makes it a violation to travel in any lane but the right side, except to pass, and so return to the right lane much too quickly.

There is also the “magnet effect” to consider. This is the natural tendency of most drivers to subconsciously increase speed when being passed by another. Only those on cruise control being passed are seemingly unaffected. Very few drivers actually maintain speed when being passed, though it’s the safest thing to do. Others expect it.

Rowena had a very interesting question. She had almost hit a cyclist in a dedicated bike lane. The cyclist was on the wrong side of the road. She looked right just in time to avoid him while preparing to do a right turn. She asked whether the cyclist was following the rules. Definitely not.

The bike lane in the location she described is only for traveling in the same direction as vehicular traffic. She only saw the offending cyclist because he was wearing a florescent vest. She wanted to know who would be deemed at fault in this situation. The cyclist would likely be found 100 per cent at fault, if witnesses were present. If not, she has insurance and the cyclist does not, so all bets are off.

Geoff wanted to know if it is legal to change lanes in an intersection, or to turn into the far lane of a road instead of the first lane a driver encounters.

The former is not an infraction but very unsafe. In fact, it will be noted on a driving test and result in a significant penalty and possibly a failure if repeated three or more times. The latter is not legal and will likely result in a ticket, if witnessed by police. Turns on multi-lane roads must be done from the most immediate lane to the most immediate lane. That’s the law.




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