Do not pass on the right to turn right, Accept your sometimes-given right to pass on the right! 

Hi, I had 2 quick questions.

1. At an intersection where it’s only 1 lane each way, theres is often room to create 2 lanes, so the right lane can turn right. I do this purely out of convenience but I assume is in fact illegal, right?

2. I have a bad habit of resting my hands on my lap at a red light at an intersection. Would I fail if I did this, because even though I’m not moving, my hands aren’t on the wheel at all times?

Hi, This is a very good question. I’ve actually been wanting to write about this for 3 years but have been avoiding it because it’s convoluted to me and common sense disagrees with law here, and I do not get it.

Technically it’s illegal to pass on the right unless the car in front is turning left, as per the law here: 

Passing on right
158 (1) The driver of a vehicle must not cause or permit the vehicle to overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle, except

(a) when the vehicle overtaken is making a left turn or its driver has signalled his or her intention to make a left turn,
(b) when on a laned roadway there is one or more than one unobstructed lane on the side of the roadway on which the driver is permitted to drive, or
(c) on a one way street or a highway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and is of sufficient width for 2 or more lanes of moving vehicles.
(2) Despite subsection (1), a driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to overtake and pass another vehicle on the right
(a) when the movement cannot be made safely, or
(b) by driving the vehicle off the roadway.

However, you’re supposed to move over to the right before you do your right turn; this seems like common sense; you get your car out of the way of traffic and use the available space. 

Turning at intersections
165 (1) If the driver of a vehicle intends to turn it to the right at an intersection, the driver must cause it to approach the intersection and then make the turn as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Warning: Rant 

This means any vehicle going straight or left would be in a different position than you on the road. Which makes you wonder why the law was written to allow you to pass on the right if they are going left, but not if they are going straight and you are turning right. This doesn’t make too much sense (to me,) and in practice, vehicles use that right area probably a thousand times every day – and without crashing too – to prepare for a right turn at an intersection, regardless of the left or absent turn signal of the vehicle in front who is clearly not turning right; especially in heavy traffic situations. 

Obviously we do not want cars generally creating 2 lanes mid-block when there is only 1 for no reason, and passing on the right just for the hell of it. We are talking when cars are nearing intersections and traffic is backing up; and everyone can see a perfectly unused chunk of driving space just sitting there.

What the law is saying in English, is you have to move over to the right before your right turn, and you can go around if the car in front is turning left, but you have to stop before going past any car not turning left. And why? Just in case they suddenly decide to do a right turn without a mirror check, a turn signal, or a shoulder check, from the inappropriate – and illegal –  and dangerous – lane position to the left of you, beside the yellow line?!  Or in case they decide to pass on the right of the vehicle in front of them who is turning left, without a mirror check, a turn signal, or a shoulder check, after the point in time that you have already moved your vehicle over nearing the intersection to prepare for your right turn? Really? Am I missing something??




The cars turning right are required to move over to the right and then turn right, but the cars going straight and in the left area position are allowed to change their mind at any moment, and they’re allowed to turn right without first moving over to the right?? Someone explain this to me. It makes sense if we are talking about large trucks and commercial vehicles. But a bunch of Honda Civics? 


So, on the road test you may have to be wary of this. But in real life, I believe one could make a strong argument. Safety and law should go hand in hand but they really do not sometimes. And personally if I had to choose, I would pick safety first and law second. Let me know what you think about this. Driving 55 km/hr in a 50 zone is also illegal, how many people do that? How many drivers have been penalized for this by receiving a traffic ticket? How many drivers have gotten into crashes as a direct result of doing this?! And how many drivers have been penalized in the form of road rage, or even awkward situations or near-misses, when they were the only one not blending in with all of the traffic around them in order to follow a law that no one else was following? 

In terms of the steering wheel, I believe they would like to see at least one hand on the wheel when stopped. Again, in practice, does this really matter that much? I’m not too convinced. 


DriveSmartBC: Passing on the Right

Motor Vehicle Act British Columbia