Drivesmart column: Driving on the shoulder of the road

Just as a child learns to colour properly by staying within the lines, so must the driver.

By Tim Schewe

Our highways are not for the exclusive use of motor vehicles. Bicycles, pedestrians, equestrians and others may be expected to use their fair share of the highway as well. In fact, in some ways the shoulder of the road could be considered to be their domain and not that of the driver.

The shoulder of the highway is the area to the right of the solid white line at the right side of the roadway, or the part of the highway to the right of the pavement if that solid white line is not present. The roadway is between the centre of the highway and the shoulder.

Drivers must drive on the roadway, not the shoulder. Passing on the right off of the roadway and driving on the shoulder to allow others to pass are common violations of this rule.

Many drivers regularly fail to confine the path of their vehicle to the roadway, particularly in curves, putting both themselves and those on the shoulder at risk. This can be easy to identify when the inside of a corner is kept free of gravel or the shoulder line is worn away in comparison to nearby straight roadway.

Bicycle riders are required to ride as near as is practical to the right side of the highway, but not on the sidewalk or off of the pavement. This most often means that cyclists will be found on the paved shoulder of the road.

Pedestrians must not walk on the roadway if there is a sidewalk present. If they choose not to use the sidewalk when only one side of the road has one, walking on the shoulder opposite is acceptable.

Horses and horse drawn vehicles are required to use the roadway just like the drivers of cars and trucks. Riders may choose to use the shoulder to yield the right of way to faster motor vehicles in the same fashion that a slow driver would.

Just as a child learns to colour properly by staying within the lines, so must the driver. Staying between the lines is a required skill that will serve you and other highway users well during your driving career. It will also save wear and tear on the lines themselves, leaving them easy to see as a guide for others.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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