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Steve Wallace: Misconceptions abound on our roads

December 13, 2019

 

A surprisingly large number of drivers are unaware that they are required to yield to transit buses pulling away from a bus stop, Steve Wallace writes.

 

Victoria Royals hockey games have two intermissions. There is entertainment in both segments. There is also a planned question, usually about driving, by one of the advertisers.

League Law, the sponsor, asked the audience to answer whether it was legal to turn left across double solid yellow lines painted on the centre portion of the roadway. The question was displayed on the Jumbotron, the large four-sided video screen in the centre of the arena. The audience is given several seconds to think about the correct answer. This exercise concludes with the answer being flashed across the enormous video screen. The correct answer is yes.

When the answer was visible on the screen, there was a collective disappointed sigh, obviously indicative of the vexation experienced by many of the attendees. The randomly chosen audience member got it wrong. Even my financial adviser, sitting next to me, got it wrong. He is a smart guy who drives a Tesla. Enough said.

A friend of mine was very frustrated by bus drivers pulling out in front of him after unloading and loading passengers at the bus stop at the side of the road. He was under the mistaken impression that the buses must yield to those vehicles already on the road. This law was changed in the late 1990s. All traffic must allow the transit driver the right of way when the driver has signalled an intention to leave the bus stop. This has made it easier for transit drivers to maintain a consistent on-time schedule. Letting the bus in at rush hour accommodates all those passengers who otherwise would be in motor vehicles. It makes good sense.

This is not the only misunderstood rule concerning buses and designated bus lanes. Drivers of motor vehicles must not use these designated lanes except if planning to turn within the same city block. It is amazing how many drivers are not aware of this simple rule.

Emergency vehicles are given the right of way when engaged, with sirens sounding and flashing lights activated. The law states that drivers must make way by proceeding to the most advantageous part of the road and stop. This will not always be to the right side. Depending on the various road configurations, it could be the left side in odd circumstances.

A frustrating situation for knowledgeable drivers is to be stuck behind a less-than-aware driver at a red light, when a left-on-red one-way opportunity arises. Yes, one can make a left turn onto a one-way street from a solid red traffic light after stopping, given there is no pedestrian or vehicular impediment.

The number of drivers who know this rule must be infinitesimal. Unaware drivers are guilty of holding up traffic for no good reason. There are times when drivers who know the rule are greeted with horn blasts and other signs of displeasure from ignorant commuters when executing this legal manoeuvre. It is the same move many drivers make every day when they turn right on a solid red traffic light,except this time it is to the left, onto a one-way street.

The difference between merge and yield is another example of roadway confusion. A merge sign designates that a driver on the highway must accommodate those entering. A yield sign means nothing of the sort and places the onus of entry on the driver. Creating space for such a driver is a much-appreciated courtesy but, oddly enough, not a requirement.

Much of the confusion about the above-mentioned situations is the lack of communication from the designated traffic authority. When rules of the road are initiated or changed, there should be a media blitz emphasising the required behaviour change of the driving public. Sadly, it is sorely lacking.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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