Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Yes, you do have to stay in your lane

Met a pickup truck completely onto my side of the double solid line in a set of winding curves

By Tim Schewe

Are some of us such poor drivers that we can’t even stay between the lines on the highway? I was driving home and met a pickup truck completely onto my side of the double solid line in a set of winding curves. Was the driver not paying attention or was he so intent on not slowing down that he straightened out the corners to avoid braking? I suspect that it was the latter.

The simplest road does not have any lines painted on it and one of the first things that we learn is that we drive on the right half of a two lane road and may only use the other half in limited circumstances. You must drive on your half unless it is not practical to do so.

You will have to be able to justify the impracticality if you find yourself in traffic court disputing a ticket or civil court following a collision.

It seems pretty obvious that failing to stay between the lines is not a good thing for any driver to get into the habit of. There is likely to be other traffic, either beside us or oncoming in the left lane. Ditto for the right lane or shoulder. Yes, the shoulder. This is where you will find cyclists and pedestrians. In fact, if there is no shoulder, you will find cyclists and pedestrians using the edge of the roadway and they are entitled to be there.

As a driver, your aim (pun intended) is to maintain a proper lane position at all times. It’s implicit in our highway system because we all share the same sheet of pavement or stretch of gravel. When we don’t, we risk running into each other. You are not being overly cautious, you are fitting into a system where safety dictates that we all manage space around us properly to avoid collisions.

On highways with multiple lanes for our direction of travel we need to stay consistently within the lane that we have chosen to use.

You might be thinking of interrupting me at this point and suggesting that it doesn’t matter when no one else is around. Odd, but I’ve had many drivers say that to me when I was asking for their autograph on a traffic ticket. If no one else was around them, how could I be there?

The point that I want to make by saying this is that if you do it right all the time, you will probably have a better outcome when you fail to see or allow for the presence of another road user.

So, what’s the best way to confine the path of your vehicle to where it is supposed to go? That will depend on what you are driving and how you choose reference points on your vehicle to guide you. When your vehicle is correctly positioned you will need to know its limits on all four sides, so choose wisely.

Tips for maintaining lane position:

• Look well ahead at the centre of the lane that you are driving in

• Keep your hands level on the steering wheel

• Keep your grip on the steering wheel relaxed but grip tightly enough for control

• Do not focus exclusively on the vehicle in front of you, keep your eyes moving

• Do not focus on the edges of the road just in front of your vehicle

• Establish reference points for the edges of the road in relation to the front of your vehicle when it is properly positioned

• Maintain sufficient and equal tire pressure

• Maintain proper wheel alignment for your vehicle

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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