We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

The twists and turns of urban driving

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, May 25th 2018

A driver cuts across traffic at the corner of Shelbourne and Hillside, which ICBC says is the most dangerous intersection in Victoria. Turning left at an intersection is a hazardous action, Steve Wallace writes.


An experienced lifelong logging-truck driver once told me he would rather do right turns only to avoid the illogical action of driving in front of oncoming traffic.
In fact, he avoided doing a left turn in favour of three right turns whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Many trucking companies design their routes to avoid as many left turns as possible.

Yielding to oncoming traffic is the obvious drawback of a left turn.
There are times when it is difficult to see traffic approaching on a multi-lane road.
Drivers must concentrate on not only the approaching traffic in the outside lanes, but also pedestrians attempting to safely cross the intersection in the intended direction of vehicular travel.
Vehicle passengers are put in extreme danger when drivers make a left turn on a multi-lane road.

Tragedy often occurs when drivers run the red light, in an outside lane, at the very instant the left turner bolts through the intersection, not wanting to be caught in the crosshairs of lateral traffic at the intersection.
Some drivers get nervous while waiting for pedestrians crossing late in front of their intended left-turn path.
Many drivers are not aware of their responsibility to enter and occupy the center of the intersection while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear.

As many vehicles as can fit in a large intersection, without blocking the crosswalk, are permitted to be in the intersection while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear.
Perhaps the most misunderstood left-turn opportunity is onto a one-way street at a solid red traffic light.
It is legal, but not compulsory, to make this left turn onto a one-way street. Drivers must stop completely and ensure there is no interfering traffic, vehicular or otherwise, before making such a seemingly odd move.

This turn must be made into the immediate and closest lane of travel.
It does not matter whether the street from which this move is made is a one-way or two-way street.
The left turn on a red light is permitted from both a one-way and two-way street.

It can only be made onto a one-way street.

Right turns, on the other hand, seem simple enough.
The problems are more related to the viewing patterns of the motor vehicle driver.
Bicycles are permitted to ride straight through an intersection on the right side of a driver intending to turn right.
It is the responsibility of the driver to do a shoulder check prior to attempting a right turn at any location, not just at intersections.

(Turning into a driveway, parking space, changing lanes or entering traffic all require a shoulder check.)
Turning right, after stopping at a solid red traffic light, has its own set of hazards. Drivers will often get fixated on the left side, while looking for a gap in traffic.
This is at the expense of pedestrians wishing to cross the street from the right, on the Walk signal.
Drivers are permitted to make a right-on-red move only after coming to a complete stop.

They must check in both lateral directions, and yield to any vehicular or pedestrian traffic before turning right.
Few drivers come to a full stop before turning right in this situation.
It is nearly impossible to check right, left and the blind spot over the right shoulder while doing a right turn on a red light without stopping completely.

Direction change is the most common cause of crashes.




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