Q: Hello our office is in the 1300 block of the Alberni Hwy on Vancouver Island. There have been two accidents within a few months of each other. One serious and the other not as bad but the car did end up rear ended in the ditch. People are trying to turn left into many of the businesses that line the highway and are coming to a complete stop. It is a two lane 70 km/h hwy that has many businesses on both sides of the hwy. The center line is two lines and the passing lines alternate every few hundred meters to either side of the road. My question is are you allowed to make a left in these situations? I assume no as it would cause you to stop on the Hwy, and could start a procession of rear ending or if someone from behind you pulled out to pass as they are allowed to could end up hitting you on the drivers door. As far as turning around farther down and coming back I’m not sure as you would get increased traffic turning into other businesses parking lots and it would be a nightmare. I should have mentioned some of the vehicles are semis delivering their or dropping loads. So they would be stopping .
The law on Highway Lines and Turning Left Across Them:
(ii) the driver of a vehicle proceeding along the highway on the side of the solid line must drive the vehicle to the right of the double line, except only when finishing the passing of an overtaken vehicle, and
(2) Subsection (1) (b) (i) and (c) do not apply if a driver is avoiding an obstruction on the highway and first ascertains that the movement can be made with safety and without affecting the travel of any other vehicle.
156 If the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle, the provisions of sections 151 and 155 are suspended with respect to the driver while the vehicle is entering or leaving the highway.
And we can see this bit in the ICBC Drive Smart Manual.
So a good question is, what does ‘impede other traffic’ really mean?
Can we turn left across the lines in a place where traffic behind has no opportunity/possibility of going around us? Can we turn left and make the traffic behind us wait for a few seconds, or a few minutes, or longer, or not at all? What if there is only one car behind us and we make it wait, does that count?
This reader consulted with a local RCMP traffic enforcement officer and received this information:
The answer he gave was, Yes you can. The only thing that could be an issue is if the vehicle was blocking traffic trying to make the left for a real long period of time and made traffic back up a great distance.
I also asked about what if one person pulled out from behind to pass like they are allowed and hit the driver in the driver’s side door who would be at fault. He said that it has happened and that both parties would be at fault. The driver making the left would be at fault for not checking to make sure it was safe as would the passing vehicle for not paying attention while passing.
Finally he did reiterate that no one is allowed to drive below the fog line (white line) to pass.
I understand that ‘great distance’ and ‘long time’ could still be considered ambiguous, quite like ‘impede’ ; but it does seem like a slightly more helpful answer. Hopefully this makes sense.
I suppose this could be a good reminder to:
- Be patient
- Always keep sufficient following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you (and increase it further if the vehicle behind you is following too closely)
- Think twice before passing a vehicle on a highway: they may be turning left. Consider that their left turn signal may not be working properly or at all.
- If a vehicle stops on the highway, there’s a reason. If you don’t know – or can’t see – what it is, it may be wise to simply wait.