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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop - Using Signals

Two questions please:

1) In the Province of BC are you required to signal indicating that you are about to turn left or right, or as most drivers exercise, is it simply a courtesy?

2) If you are in a right hand turning lane that is constructed with a solid white painted line to the drivers left and a curb to the right with a painted arrow indicating that the cars in this lane may only turn right, are you required to signal that you are turning right (considering that according to the traffic control device you may only turn right?

All drivers of motor vehicles are required to use a turn signal when making a turn and changing lanes. This would include being in a designated right or turn lane. The law indicates that you must signal prior to the movement. It seems that certain drivers have not discovered the signal light indicator switch which is standard feature on all vehicles.

Signals on turning
Section 170 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that 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.

Means of signaling
Section 171 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that subject to subsection (2), if a signal is required a driver must give it by means of
(a) his or her hand and arm,
(b) a signal lamp of a type approved by the director, or
(c) a mechanical device of a type approved by the director.
(2) When a vehicle is constructed or loaded in a manner that makes a signal by hand and arm not visible both to its front and rear, or a body or load extends more than 60 cm to the left of the centre of the steering wheel, a driver must give signals as provided by paragraph (1) (a) or (b), and a person must not drive the motor vehicle on a highway unless it is so equipped.

Failing to signal a turn or inadequate signal for a turn is a fine of $121 and 2 points

Driving on laned roadway
Section 151 of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates a driver who is driving a vehicle on a laned roadway
(c) must not drive it from one lane to another without first signaling his or her intention to do so by hand and arm or approved mechanical device in the manner prescribed by sections 171 and 172.
Failing to signal a lane change carries a fine of $109 and 2 points.

Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison
Kelowna R.C.M.P. Detachment


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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