Drivesmart column: Many have Must Not Stop driving mentality

Even though we don’t like to, sometimes we must expect to stop.

By Tim Schewe

I had an interesting conversation with @itsjim84 on Twitter this morning about the case law article I posted this week on driving over painted traffic islands. He observed that in the case of a left turn queue that had extended past the left turn bay due to insufficient length it was better to be stopped on the painted island instead of in the through lane. Stopping on the island would preclude being hit from behind by through traffic and allow traffic to flow.

It would also cut down on the number of drivers who would drive over the cycle lane on the right in order to get by stopped traffic.

@itsjim84’s example was the intersection of the Fraser Highway and Lefeuver Road in Abbotsford.

From the look of the worn painted diagonals in the island many drivers share his concern.

This intersection has seen 101 collisions between 2011 and 2015 according to ICBC. Fifty-three of those crashes involved casualties. Unfortunately, we are not able to see the contributing factors for these incidents to determine if the left turn bay is a major contributor or not.

I suggested that we tend to think of our own convenience instead of the convenience of others. Since it is improper to drive on or over the island (see page 40 of Learn to Drive Smart) one might choose to continue on to the next opportunity to turn left when the turn bay was full instead of fouling the through lane.

@itsjim84 responded that not blocking a single lane highway during rush hour because the municipality hasn’t provided a sufficient turn queue is about not being inconvenient to others. The only other streets to turn on are residential streets, not arterials.

Perhaps it all comes down to expectations.

Many drivers feel that nothing should get in the way of arriving at their destination in the shortest possible time with the least amount of inconvenience. Must Not Stop.

Faced with inconvenience, some of these drivers will do whatever it takes to keep going whether it is legal or not. Sadly, part of this group have no idea that things they do are illegal. Worse still, those that do know will disobey through choice. I’m important, you are not.

Throw in a driver or two who want to follow the rules as they are currently written and where do we end up? Confused, and confusion causes problems. Reference the numbers above for this intersection and our provincial crash rates.

We’ll never reach the utopia of having as much pavement and as little other traffic as we want. Laws will lag behind current realities but unless there is a legal justification for disobeying, we must follow them or face consequences.

Even though we don’t like to, sometimes we must expect to stop.

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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