We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Rules of the road you probably don’t know

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, January 27 2017

B.C. is the only jurisdiction in the world that allows drivers to stay in the Novice stage of licensing for life.


Here are some strange and often misunderstood driving rules: Seatbelts are not required to be worn when in reverse gear.

This is a strange rule.

When seatbelt-wearing became mandatory in the late 1970s, it was thought the seatbelt might be an impediment for shorter drivers to see properly while backing up.

(Taxi drivers are exempt, as well as many other professional drivers.)

The rule seems odd today, when seatbelts are much easier to adjust and less cumbersome.
In any case, the rule may be worth revisiting.

Most drivers are unaware of the rule that requires drivers to stop prior to exiting an alley, driveway or parking lot.
The police are not likely to enforce this rule any more, unless a crash has occurred, but road-test driving examiners are much less forgiving.
It is best to come to a complete stop before exiting these locations on a driving test.

Driving schools are exempt from displaying the L or N at the back of their training vehicles.
The appropriately sized STUDENT DRIVER signs at the back of the vehicle suffice.
Inexplicably, the same L or N must be displayed when the student driver is taking an ICBC road test.

This requirement is odd, unnecessarily redundant and foolishly inconsistent.

Hand signals are another influx method of communicating one’s intention when riding a bike.
Some states south of the border have allowed riders to use the right arm extended to indicate a right turn, as opposed to the traditional right-angle arm extension with the hand held upward.

It might be time for authorities here at home to give this seemingly logical practice serious consideration.

The rule regarding the N phase of driver licensing in our province must be readdressed.

We are the only jurisdiction in the world that allows a driver to stay in the Novice stage for life.

The only other province that has similar legislation concerning N drivers is Ontario, which demands drivers shed this phase within five years or revert to the L phase.

No N display is required. Mark my words, if this farce is allowed to continue, we are all very likely to see a pensioner who has been driving with an N for several decades.

Besides, most N drivers in their late 20s and early 30s seldom display the N.

The requirement was mandated in the late 1990s.

Some drivers are still unaware of the rule permitting a left turn on a solid red light at a one-way street, once a full stop has been made and there are no pedestrian or vehicle impediments.

The strangest solid-red-light rule ever involves a red light at a location where there is no side street left or right.

One of these locations is on Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver.
Because there is no side-street access, a driver does not have to wait for the solid red light to turn green before proceeding.

As long as the way is clear, drivers can go on the solid-red traffic light.

This is a very strange situation, more an exception to a rule than a rule itself.

It is definitely counter-intuitive.

I don’t recommend drivers move forward on the red light, since I am willing to bet most police are unaware of this isolated exception.

There needs to be a rule change to disallow the practice, if not for consistency alone.

Drivers should be reminded that school and playground signs must have a 30 km/h tab attached to the school or playground sign for the speed to be enforced.

It is always a good idea to be on the lookout for children in such zones without unnecessarily slowing traffic on major arteries lacking such tabs.

Next week, I’ll address the carcyclist conundrum.




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