Drivesmart column: The importance of staying inside the lines

Are some of us such sloppy drivers that we can’t even stay between the lines on the highway?

By Tim Schewe

Are some of us such sloppy drivers that we can’t even stay between the lines on the highway? I was driving home from work tonight and met a pickup truck completely onto my side of the double solid line in a set of winding curves. Was the driver not paying attention or was he so intent on not slowing down that he straightened out the corners to avoid braking? I suspect that it was the latter.

One of the first things that we learn when we drive is that we drive on the right half of a two lane road and may only use the other half in limited circumstances. These circumstances are defined by the law and do not include driver convenience as in situations like the one I described. Our trust that the other drivers will remain where they are supposed to be is central to using the highway safely.

The simplest road does not have any lines painted on it. The rule I mentioned in the last paragraph still applies, you must drive on your half unless it is not practical to do. You will have to be able to justify that impracticality if you find yourself in traffic court disputing a ticket or civil court following a collision.

On most of our highways, road maintenance includes a fresh coat of paint on the lines. If it didn’t matter what the lines meant there would only be one type of line, or no line at all. You would be free to judge that you were in your own half of the highway. However, it does matter, and drivers must be aware of what the lines mean and follow their requirement.

On highways with multiple lanes for our direction of travel we need to stay consistently within the lane that we have chosen to use.

Lines that you must obey may be on your left and on your right when you are driving, even when there is only one lane for each direction. Believe it or not, that solid white line at the right edge of the roadway defines where you are supposed to drive. Keep to the left of it.

Here are some tips to help you maintain proper lane position:

• Look well ahead at the centre of the lane that you are driving in

• Keep your hands level on the steering wheel

• Keep your grip on the steering wheel relaxed but grip tightly enough for control

• Do not focus exclusively on the vehicle in front of you, keep your eyes moving

• Do not focus on the edges of the road just in front of your vehicle

• Establish reference points for the edges of the road in relation to the front of your vehicle when it is properly positioned

• Maintain sufficient and equal tire pressure

• Maintain proper wheel alignment for your vehicle

This YouTube video is a good review of the driving actions to follow for proper lane position. The only issue that I have with it is that you are advised to hold the steering wheel at 10 and 2. This is no longer recognized as the best choice due to the driver’s airbag.

Are you confused? Drop by an ICBC Driver Service Centre and pick up a copy of Learn to Drive Smart for review, it’s free. You can also find your own electronic copy of the manual at www.icbc.com.

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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