Burnaby drivers are doing left turns all wrong, says instructor

Chris Campbell

Frank Townsley has been a driving instructor for 40 years so, yeah, he’s seen some stuff.

He’s seen people do things in vehicles that have made him shake his head and the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

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But despite it all, this driving instructor – who is also certified to train people to become driving instructors – has remained calm and patient.

Townsley even takes time while he’s out on the road to educate other drivers if he sees them break the rules. No, he doesn’t try and embarrass them. He gives a light tap on his horn, rolls down his window and explains things.

“Ninety per cent of the time, people really appreciate the advice,” Townsley says.

OK, perhaps I’m a little skeptical of the 90% figure, especially when it involves someone honking a horn, but I’m taking his word for it.

traffic signal

Townsley contacted me after hearing me talking about excessive speeding in Burnaby on the Simi Sara Show on CKNW on Monday.

Townsley doesn’t have much to say about speeding. It’s wrong, he says, and everybody knows it.

No, he contacted me to share the top blunders that he sees on local roads because drivers don’t know B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act. He hopes that sharing this information will educate drivers.

Well, here we go:

  1. Drivers in a designated left-turn lane still need to turn on their signal. This is a good one. A lot of drivers think that it should be obvious that they are turning left, but not so for drivers coming in the opposite direction.
  2. Failing to signal BEFORE you slow down to turn, or turning on your signal when you are halfway in another lane. “You have to let other drivers know your intentions before you move,” Townsley said.
  3. You can’t turn left on a single or double yellow line if you are obstructing traffic.
  4. No U-turns at intersections controlled by traffic lights.  
  5. You can only turn right at a red light if the intersection is clear of all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. And you must come to a complete stop first.
  6. Don’t rely on your mirrors only. You have to do shoulder checks for blind spots.

Some of these things might seem obvious, but too many drivers either don’t know the rules or they just ignore them because they are too lazy.

“A lot of these things just come down to observations,” Townsley said.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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