Generally speaking, left turns must yield to right turns, and left turns must yield to conflicting traffic that is travelling straight ahead. Why? When you turn right, frequently you’re just turning across a pedestrian crosswalk or pedestrian/bicycle area. When you turn left, you’re turning across pedestrian/bicycle area plus the oncoming traffic lane(s).
Generally right turns are commonly a lot quicker, safer, and present the driver with less conflicts when compared to left turns. Left turns can be dangerous when drivers lack judgment, skill, or make errors like assuming there’s no oncoming traffic in cases when their visibility is blocked by an oncoming left-turning vehicle.
Left turns can be avoided by route planning in advance, such as driving past the place you want to turn left and then doing 3 right turns.
If you’re looking for more information on basic right of way rules, check out the eBook I wrote to help drivers:
Common situations that confuse inexperienced drivers:
2 – Way Stop
The 2-way stop when you’re driving on the thru road: Neither car is facing a stop sign. Both vehicles must yield to pedestrians and cyclists first and foremost. Then, any right turn should go before any left turn (Car B should yield to car A).
Rant: notice how I wrote “car B should yield to car A?” that means, he’s supposed to yield, it doesn’t mean he’s actually going to! If he doesn’t yield to you, then you don’t have the right of way. Right of way means, that space on that road at that particular time. In cases where drivers fail to yield, be defensive and give the right of way and/or honk if you must to avoid collisions. New drivers will learn to judge other vehicles. Look for eye contact: people don’t usually hit stuff that they see.
Traffic Light Turns
When you’re driving at signal-controlled (traffic light) intersections with a green light, the same rules apply. Keep in mind in places where there are multiple lanes, the onus is still on the left-turning driver to yield until safe. The law says nothing of the sorts that “the right lane belongs to the right-turning car” and “the left lane belongs to the left-turning car,” (It does say you’re supposed to turn into the closest lane, however i.e. the right lane from a right turn & the left lane from a left turn, if applicable), what it clearly states is that “Left turns must yield to right turns and thru traffic” until safe, period. In other words, use extreme caution when turning left and if you aren’t sure if it’s safe to turn, then don’t! (Car B should yield to car A).
*** Please note that by law, you must yield to any vehicle that is in any space BEFORE YOU, regardless of other traffic laws. Remember, if someone doesn’t give you the right of way, then you don’t have the right of way.
Pedestrians have a lot of rights in BC. In the diagram above, there are 4 legal, unmarked crosswalks – legal places for pedestrians to walk across the road. Vehicles are required to stop and yield to pedestrians waiting on any corner of this intersection. (any intersection, generally speaking – unless you see a “no pedestrian” sign).
Cars turning left yield to cars that are going straight.
This driver GAVE me the gift of the Right-of-Way
So that I could go around the parked truck/obstruction. So I took the right-of- way, and gave him a nice big thank you wave. 🙂 He now has good karma.
Here I had NO Right-of-Way, even though I had a Green Light
The other cars didn’t give me the right-of-way, so I didn’t have it:
Basic Left Turn at Traffic Light
Left turn yield to pedestrians and cars turning right and cars going straight through.
4-Way Stop Demo (Driving lesson)
Whoever stopped first, goes first. If you stopped second, go second. If you stop at the same time, yield to the right; left turn yield to right turn, and left turn yield to straight through.
Cars facing a 2-way stop sign must stop and yield to traffic on the thru street, and may only proceed when safe. If 2 vehicles arrive at the same time, usually you must yield to whichever car stopped and entered the intersection first. If you stop at the same time and one wants to go straight and one wants to go left, the one going left should yield to the one going straight. Sometimes people wave each other thru. While this is a nice gesture, try to avoid this as you may be held partially liable in the event of a crash. If you want to let the other car go first, let him know by staying stopped at the line and look at him, rather than inching forward and looking left and right as if you’re preparing to make a move.
Vehicles Exiting Lane/Driveway/Parking Lot
These are legally required to stop completely and yield to pedestrians and all other road users before proceeding.
NOT LIKE THIS :
This is better:
Hope that all made sense 🙂
Many moons ago, Carmen became an ICBC-approved driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, and has spent many years working with new and experienced drivers around the lower mainland. She can be found reading the Motor Vehicle Act for fun while receiving strange looks from others. May the quest for great driving continue!
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