Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: The Motor Vehicle Act needs an update

Imagine how difficult the job must be to keep the 494 chapters of the provincial statutes

By Tim Schewe

Imagine how difficult the job must be to keep the 494 chapters of the provincial statutes of British Columbia in order. The legislation that they contain must be added to in order to reflect what we need today, amended as circumstances change and the courts rule on their use and finally repealed as they no longer reflect our wants and needs. Small wonder that some things slip through the cracks.

Our Motor Vehicle Act is regularly amended, most often to add new rules, but occasionally to repair the old ones. Some things languish on the sidelines though and I thought that it might be interesting to take a look at some of them.

Where do you stop your vehicle? If a stop sign is involved (186), it’s at the marked stop line when one is present. However, when you face a red light you must stop before the marked crosswalk (129).

Changes to cycling infrastructure have introduced us to the bike box. It’s installed between the crosswalk and the stop line and permits cyclists to move in ahead of vehicles at signalized intersections. Drivers are supposed to stop at the stop line to keep the bike box open for cyclists.

Disobeying a stop sign results in three penalty points on conviction, but running a red light only results in two penalty points (schedule).

Which of the two of these situations is the more dangerous? Even if running a red light is no more dangerous than failing to stop at a stop sign, I cannot think of a reason that it would be less likely to result in a collision.

Are you turning right at an intersection? If so, you must turn into the curb lane (165). Unless you are turning left onto a one way street there is no clear requirement to enter the first available lane.

ICBC recognizes that to do otherwise when turning left is unsafe. Should you choose to not turn left into the first available lane while on a road test you will be penalized for your choice.

In general, when you are driving on a road that is marked with a yellow line to separate traffic moving in opposite directions you are required to stay to the right (155). There are exemptions for some situations, such as passing, turning to leave the highway or avoiding an obstruction in the road (156).

However, the only exception for the double solid yellow line is turning to leave the highway. Strictly speaking, you could be stuck behind an obstruction for a very long time if you cannot pass by on the right.

With the advent of the new intersection safety cameras (ISC) that measure speed as well as report red light violations, the ability of the vehicle’s registered owner to nominate the driver responsible for the violation was removed.

The driver responsible for traveling at 149 km/h in a posted 50 km/h zone in 2020 certainly deserves penalty points and a vehicle impound to go along with the fine but that doesn’t happen. Perhaps ICBC should be adding significantly to the insurance premium following an ISC conviction of this magnitude.

No doubt there are other examples that you can name and hopefully our legislators get around to making the necessary amendments sooner rather than later.

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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