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John Ducker: Can you tell road safety fact from fiction?

Police can inspect your motorcycle helmet; you can’t stay in the left lane even if you’re doing the speed limit; don’t cross the road once pedestrian light goes red

There are always a lot of myths around driving and safety. So I’m not totally surprised to hear people proclaim things which are not only bad ideas but are actually illegal.

With that in mind, it’s time for a little true or false brush up around road safety with issues ranging from the everyday to the unusual. Good luck.

1 A police officer can relieve you of your motorcycle helmet and examine it to ensure it complies with BC motorcycle helmet standards.

True: Section 194(8) of the Motor Vehicle Act allows police to seize a helmet without a warrant to check if it meets standards. What’s more is that you commit an offence under that section if you obstruct a police officer from doing so.

2 I can always travel in the left lane on a highway so long as I’m doing the speed limit.

False: A driver in the leftmost lane must exit that lane on the approach of another vehicle from behind when it is safe to do so.

As always there are some exceptions: when you’re passing a vehicle in the right lane; when you’re allowing traffic to merge from the right; when you’re using the left lane to make a left turn off of the highway and; when the law requires you to move to the left lane to avoid an official vehicle. The speed limit must also be at least 80 km/h and the traffic itself must be moving at 50 km/h minimum.

And no, getting into the left lane at Uptown isn’t necessary when you will be turning left at Keating out in Central Saanich.

3 I travel on this road all the time and know the speed limit but the sign was obstructed by snow so I can’t be charged if I was speeding.

True: Under section 148.2, one of the very few defences to speeding is that if a driver can establish that no driver on the highway could see the sign because it was obstructed or unreadable, they have a legal defence.

4 There’s a left turn lane with a traffic signal near my house and lots of cars turn there. It’s OK to throw up a sign on it for my garage sale next weekend.

False: A person must not place or maintain commercial advertising on a traffic control device.

5 Those pedestrian countdown signals at intersections are great — I can walk so long as I beat the countdown timer.

False: It’s the other little sign that matters most, be it an orange hand, the words “Don’t Walk” or the word “Wait”. No pedestrian shall enter the roadway after the hand or those words are displayed — the counter itself is legally irrelevant. If you’re already in a crosswalk when those signals appear, you must exit the road way as quickly as possible. But if you have entered a crosswalk legally, you still have the right of way over vehicles, even when the pedestrian sign changes.

6 I live in a really dark area where my fog lamps would help me to see, but I can’t use them because it’s not foggy or rainy out at the moment.

True: Fog lamps can only be used when atmospheric conditions, normally fog, require their use. Fog lamps used at the wrong time can be particularly blinding for approaching drivers.

7 My friend can train a learner driver in their own vehicle so long as the learner pays cash for the instruction.

False: The “instructor” would be committing several offences under BC’s Motor Vehicle Act regulations. No person may act, or purport to act, as a driver training instructor unless the person is the holder of a valid and subsisting driver training instructor’s licence issued under the law.

In addition there are several regulations requiring driving instructors and their schools to be licenced, accredited and regularly inspected by government officials. Consumer protection is a high priority under Division 27 of the regulations.

8 I live on a quiet street and could zip down my driveway and get to the store in a minute in my golf cart but I don’t think that’s legal.

True:On a highway, it’s illegal to operate a golf cart, an air cushion vehicle, a snow vehicle, a snowmobile, a utility vehicle, a beverage cart or a miniature motor vehicle — sorry Shriners.

There are some exceptions for utility vehicles around farming, landscaping or construction work but that use is limited to the work being close to a specific site or when they have to simply cross the highway. I’m betting though there wouldn’t be much snowmobile enforcement when roads are otherwise impassible, as has happened a few times in the past. It’s also OK to use a golf cart in the clubhouse parking lot — thank God.