Drivesmart column: Learn to yield and make roadway safer

Sometimes through traffic does have to yield to those who are trying to enter or leave the highway.

By Tim Schewe

Ah courtesy, where have you gone? You are certainly scarce on the highways and byways of our fair province! When was the last time another driver did something nice for you to facilitate a movement? Did you wave to say thank you afterward? We can all get along nicely with a bit of courtesy now and again.

Here is the message from the DriveSmartBC inbox that triggered my observation:

“One thing that really bugs me is that drivers almost push their way into traffic. Whether it be coming from a side street or backing out from their driveway they don’t seem to know that they shouldn’t be impeding rolling traffic. I was always taught that if you are entering a roadway one should do so that moving traffic doesn’t have to significantly slow, or in some cases jam on their brakes to let you in.”

Yes, there are many drivers who don’t know the meaning of the word yield, including this reader. They will no doubt be shocked to learn that sometimes through traffic does have to yield to those who are trying to enter or leave the highway. Heaven forbid!

If I am attempting to turn left at an intersection and you are approaching me from the front, if you are close enough to be a hazard, I must yield and let you pass by. However, if you are not, you must yield and allow me to turn left.

Don’t EVER count on approaching traffic to do this.

If I have stopped at the stop sign on a cross street and yielded to traffic passing by on the through street, if you are not approaching closely, you must yield and let me enter or cross the through street.

Drivers who wait patiently for a gap in the traffic when it is heavy may wait for hours, so they do creep forward until a passing driver is uncomfortable and stops to let them in.

Of course, there are also drivers who jam themselves into traffic without regard for others in order to save a few seconds. They may be charged for failing to yield the right of way as well.

For those who are trying to do this backward, the entire onus to proceed safely is on the driver who is travelling in reverse.

Vancouver’s Worst Drivers Dashcam is a YouTube channel that is full of examples of bad driving from the lower mainland. There are many channels like it and some specialize is showing collisions.

If you watch a few of these videos, it quickly becomes apparent that many drivers feel entitled to their right of way and will insist on it, right to the point of becoming involved in a clearly avoidable crash!

As all of my driving instructor friends will tell you, right of way is given, not taken.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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