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Behind-the-Wheel

Dear Cop - Left Turn Signal

At a traffic light when there is a sign that says left turn signal, does this mean you have to wait for a signal before making a left turn? If this is so, why not rephrase the sign to read left turn on signal only or some such thing. Where I have seen these signs, the motorists are split 50/50 on what to do.

When there is a designated traffic control light for left turns only at an intersection such as Highway 97 northbound at Sexsmith Road, you must wait until the arrow is green before proceeding. If the designated left turn signal is red, drivers making a left turn must stop and wait even though vehicles in the through lane(s) to the right have a green light.

There are also other designated advanced left turn arrow traffic control lights. These traffic control lights will activate to allow only left turning vehicles to make a left turn. After a period of time, the arrow will go yellow and then the light will go green in conjunction with through traffic as well as left turn vehicle. In this instance, the left turn vehicle must yield to all oncoming traffic and proceed only when it is safe make the left turn.

The simple rule of thumb is if there is a traffic control light directly in front of the your lane of travel, the color of the light will be the tell tale sign.

Arrows - Designated Traffic Control Lights
Section 130 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that when a green arrow is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,
(a) the driver of a vehicle facing the green arrow may cause it to enter the intersection and to make only the movement indicated by the green arrow, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or in an adjacent crosswalk and to other vehicles lawfully in the intersection.
(2) When a yellow arrow is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,
(a) the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing a yellow arrow must cause the vehicle to stop
(i) before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or
(ii) before entering the intersection, if there is no marked crosswalk,
unless the stop cannot be made in safety,
(b) the driver of a motor vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the yellow arrow may, when a stop cannot be made in safety, proceed with caution to make the only movement indicated by the arrow but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or in an adjacent crosswalk, and to other vehicles lawfully in the intersection.
Red Light

Section 129 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act indicates that when a red light alone is exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection and facing the red 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, and, must not cause the vehicle to proceed until a traffic control signal instructs the driver that he or she is permitted to do so.

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.

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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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