Brush up on intersection etiquette

There’s the apocryphal story of the driver who insists on making three right-hand turns to avoid making one left-hand turn. I’ll admit I’ve done this a few times myself, but for reasons of expediency versus fear of waiting in the middle of an intersection for a break in traffic.

I’d be interested to hear how many three-rights-instead-of-one-left drivers there are out there, and their reasoning behind such driving behaviour, but today I’d like to touch on what happens in the moments immediately before a vehicle arrives at an intersection while lining up the approach to a turn.

In most cases, drivers adhere to section 165 of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act and stay to the side of the road appropriate with the direction they will be turning from; meaning a driver turning right stays as near as possible to the right side of his or her lane or road, while one turning left stays to the left. Semi trucks and other long vehicles are the exceptions to this rule, as they need to swing wide in order to safely complete the turn.

In other cases, though, drivers of small cars swing wide before making a turn. This seems to be more of an issue on unlined side streets, where the unaware driver approaches the intersection from the middle of the road. Not only does this make it difficult for other drivers to determine where the offending driver is going, it effectively blocks that side of the intersection. Couple this late move with no turn signals, and the situation is ripe for a collision.

On the other end of the turn are drivers who go into a corner too quickly, cross multiple lanes and end up in oncoming traffic or flipped over on the other side of the road. Regular city intersections where the streets meet at 90-degree angles are not conducive to race car-style driving.

Most of you already take this into consideration, but I’d like to remind drivers to be aware of their intersection etiquette, which includes not blocking more than your lane and not over-driving turns. Slow down, take into account road angles and watch out for other road users.

On that note, every time I witness a little car make a wide turn, I wonder how large their imaginary trailer is.

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

Photograph by: Ric Ernst, Province