One good turn deserves a signal light

Judging from the way quite a few motorist are failing to signal their turns, it’s time for a refresher on what that lever to the left hand side of the steering column is intended for. So without further adieu …

Section 170 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act states: (1) If traffic may be affected by turning a vehicle, a person must not turn it without giving the appropriate signal under sections 171 and 172.

(2) If a signal of intention to turn right or left is required, a driver must give it continuously for sufficient distance before making the turn to warn traffic.

(3) If there is an opportunity to give a signal, a driver must not stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving the appropriate signal under sections 171 and 172.

Translated, this means you must always turn your signal on if there is traffic around you, you must give adequate warning of the upcoming turn, and you must activate the signal before braking or accelerating.

Signalling ensures drivers are communicating their intentions to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, and keeps all users of the road aware of what everyone else is up to.

Nothing is more frustrating (or potentially collision-causing) than to be following another driver who suddenly slams on the brakes and turns before indicating the turn. Halfway through a turn is not the time to put on the signal. It’s redundant and far too late.

Equally as frustrating is to be following a driver who indicates a turn and who then bypasses several streets/ driveways/entrances before making the turn.

There is a proper time to indicate a turn, and that is after the last side street/driveway/entrance has gone by and well before your chosen turn.

Sometimes it’s a tight squeeze and you must pass a couple of closely spaced driveways before making your turn, and that’s okay. Just do the best you can, and really, it’s better to prematurely indicate a turn than to not indicate one at all. Remember, signalling is a way to communicate your intentions to everyone else.

Sections 171 and 172 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act (mentioned above) cover off the approved means of signalling (signal lamp, mechanical device, the driver’s hand/arm) for left-hand drive signals. Left-hand drive vehicles are what the vast majority of us drive, with the steering wheel mounted on the left-hand side of the car. In the event of mechanical/turn light failure, the driver must signal by extending his/her left arm out of the left-hand side drivers window in the approved method to indicate a turn. If you happen to drive a right-hand drive vehicle and suffer mechanical failure, well, I hate to tell you, but your vehicle is deemed not to be “road worthy” in the eyes of the BC Motor Vehicle Act – you must always have a properly operating mechanical or electrical signalling device.

Now, for a personal pet peeve of mine, which is probably a peeve for many of you, too.

It’s the driver who, after sitting in the No. 1 position at a red light in heavy traffic with multiple cars stacked up behind, decides last minute to indicate a left-hand turn. This drives me absolutely squirrelly as it is such an incredibly disrespectful and un-courteous thing to do.

If the driver knew they had to make the left-hand turn, then they should have signalled well in advance to give other drivers the opportunity to change lanes. In the event the driver did not realize the street they were waiting at was the one they were supposed to turn at, they should not just flick their turn light on and hold everyone up – the courteous thing to do would be to drive forward through the intersection, give ample warning of their intention, and turn at the next street.

Vancouver police constable Sandra Glendinning blogs at Her opinions aren’t necessarily those of the city’s police department or board.

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