Drivesmart column: Staying on your side of the road

No exemptions that grant permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

By Tim Schewe

I live beside a road where I can watch an “S” curve out of my window where visibility is limited due to vegetation on both sides. I don’t have to watch for long before I see a driver who straightens out the S by driving more or less in a straight line through the corners.

There was a near miss last week where a pickup driver had to slam on his brakes to avoid an oncoming minivan. By the time that driver got to the mailboxes and stopped he was fuming. Apparently this kind of behaviour in our neighbourhood is epidemic. He says it is not uncommon to meet vehicles on the wrong side of the road after they ignore the stop sign and fail to make a right turn into the correct lane, too.

It doesn’t matter that there are no lines painted on the pavement at this spot, a driver is still required to confine the path of their vehicle to the right hand half of the roadway.

The concept of roadway is important here. It is the part of the highway where vehicles are meant to be driven and does not include the shoulder. So, it is also possible to fail to stay on your side by being too far to the right as well.

Lines are helpful, but they too are often ignored as evidenced by the uneven wear of the centre line in another nearby section of winding road near my neighbourhood. I’ve met drivers there who are crowding the double solid yellow or are completely onto my side of it.

Why are these drivers so poor at maintaining proper lane position? Surely everyone must realize that keeping to your lane has to be one of the most important rules of driving! Just because you don’t want to slow down or are too lazy to steer properly doesn’t mean that you are entitled to use some of my side of the highway.

Another common sight are neighbours who are too lazy to stop on the right side of the road and walk across to pick up their mail. They drive right up to the community mailboxes, roll down the driver’s window and open their mailbox.

You must not stop, stand or park anywhere other than on the right side of the roadway. When you do, you must be parallel to and within 30 cm of the curb if there is one.

If you maintain proper lane position then you have a safety buffer around your vehicle that allows you to take avoidance action if something untoward should occur. Consider what might happen if you meet another driver that drives the same way you do.

There are no exemptions that grant a driver permission to disobey the keeping to the right rule based on convenience.

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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