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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop - Yielding Right Of Way

I think this sort of service is long overdue and thanks for allowing me to
participate. I have a question about intersections which coincidentally was
somewhat addressed in an article I saw. A car was in the intersection
waiting to turn left, the light turned yellow, the car commenced turning and an approaching truck trying to beat the yellow hit the turning car.

In this case the truck was entirely at fault and its driver received a ticket. What responsibility does the waiting-to-turn vehicle have in cutting across the path of an approaching vehicle? A friend of mine sustained a lot of car damage and was deemed 50% responsible for turning in front of a car trying to beat the yellow. Obviously a speeding, loaded dump truck on a downhill grade is not going to be able to stop but what of a car that by all rights should be able to stop? Are we to wait until we are sure the approaching vehicle is going to brake and only turn then when the light has gone red and other drivers are annoyed?

Thanks very much.
-C. Nichols
Victoria BC

Yielding right of way on left turn

Section 174 of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that when a vehicle is in an intersection and its driver intends to turn left, the driver must yield the right of way to traffic approaching from the opposite direction that is in the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard, but having yielded and given a signal as required by sections 171 and 172, the driver may turn the vehicle to the left, and traffic approaching the intersection from the opposite direction must yield the right of way to the vehicle making the left turn.

Yellow light

128 (1) When a yellow light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, following the exhibition of a green light,
(a) the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the yellow light must cause it to stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, before entering the intersection, unless the stop cannot be made in safety.

In most crashes I attend at intersections, the driver of a left turning vehicle will execute the left turn as soon as the traffic control light turns yellow without looking to ensure traffic from the opposite direction has come to a stop in compliance with the yellow light. Patience is the answer when attempting to make a left turn. Never assume that opposing traffic will stop for the yellow and red lights. Never assume that even though a vehicle is slowing that it is going to stop. If the driver of a vehicle making a left turn must wait until the light is red and traffic has now stopped, the left turning vehicle has control of the intersection. If it annoys other drivers, well life is tough. Better safe than injured or killed.

Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison


More Behind the Wheel articles

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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