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We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Once more into the reader mailbag

September 6, 2016

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, September 2nd 2016

Is this a legally binding school-zone sign? No, it isn’t, but chances are it is in a school zone during a school day, so its message stands — slow down. Steve Wallace writes that schoolzone regulations are unnecessarily confusing, since drivers often don’t know whether school is in session or not.

Bryan, who is a grandfather, no longer has kids in school and is not sure which days are actually school days.
“Join the club” is all I have to say. He states: “Unless a person has a child in school, or is in the education industry, we have no idea when school is in session or not.”
When is spring break and Christmas break?
Is it the same time in every school district? Do professional days count as school days?

Statutory school days are governed by the Public School Act.
Professional days are counted as statutory days and all school zones are in effect, even though no students are present.
Confused yet?

School districts may alter the Christmas break and spring break, but these non-conforming school days are not in-session school days and school zones are not in effect.
Statutory school days are always school-speedzone days, but who can figure out which are attendance days and statutory days?
Gar, a regular reader, suggests there should be lines painted on the road that would identify the length of the school zone, instead of having to look for a relatively obscure pentagon-shaped (schoolhouse) sign, facing the other way.
Posting the time of daily enforcement on every school zone sign would be much appreciated.

A Washington state visitor had several questions.
John, from Gig Harbor, wanted to know if U-turns were legal, since he had seen so many drivers doing them in mid-block.
He was swarmed by a group of cyclists, passing him on both sides of his vehicle, and asked if it was legal for them to do so.
At another location, he noticed the cyclists blow through a stopsign intersection at high speed, while stunned drivers simply froze.

Was this legal, he asked?

Indeed, U-turns are legal in mid-block of a non-business area, when safe to do so, but drivers will always face a percentage of blame if a crash results.
Intersection U-turns are not legal and there are some municipal jurisdictions that may disallow them altogether.
Cyclists are not permitted to swarm motor vehicles and must travel in single file.
They must also stop at all stop signs.
That is the law in B.C.

John also mentioned confusing behaviour at crosswalks and distracted joggers.
Zebra-striped vertical white crosswalk markings at intersections designate uncontrolled intersection crosswalks.
They appear singularly at intersections and in neighbourhoods where standard traffic lights and stop signs are not present.
Solid crosswalk lines are at stop signs and traffic lights.
John was surprised by the number of pedestrians who did not look for danger before crossing the street and joggers who suddenly turned at a crosswalk, after running parallel to the road.

Here are some recently asked questions. Are skateboards allowed on the sidewalk?
No, they are not. Are scooters for the handicapped allowed on the road?
No, they are restricted to the sidewalk.
What about in-line skaters? To the best of my knowledge, they are treated as skateboarders.
Does a driver have to wear a seatbelt when in reverse gear? No, the driver is exempt when backing.

Do you need a licence to ride a motorcycle under 50 CCs?
No, you do not, as long as it has pedals attached.
Are hand signals legal when used without the simultaneous use of the vehicle electric signals?
No, they are not. They simply augment, but do not replace, electric directional signals.
They may be used in an emergency when regular signals fail.

Keep them coming — I will do my best to answer all of your questions.

 

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