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John Ducker: Readers share their peeves on headlights, passing and more

Apparently lots of people are forgetting to turn on their main lights when it's dark or there's bad weather.
Traffic on the Malahat near Goldstream Park in Langford. The Malahat is a particularly bad stretch for drivers forgetting to turn on their main headlights, writes John Ducker. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Time for some reader peeves from the past few weeks. So, in no particular order:

Jon says that lots of people are forgetting to turn on their main lights when it’s dark or in bad weather. The Malahat is a particularly bad stretch for this problem. Any modern vehicle must now be equipped with daytime headlights. But daytime lights can’t do the job at night, and having daylight-only lights at night means your tail lights are probably off as well. Check your car’s manual and then your settings. Driving without lights in the dark is a violation.

Bob and Joanne are concerned about drivers who cross solid painted centre lines and into the path of oncoming traffic to get around a vehicle, cyclist or object in front of them.

It’s not illegal to cross or pass on a single solid yellow line, but crossing of any type of painted line, where permitted, can only be done when it’s safe to do so. Forcing someone headed in the opposite direction to take evasive action because you’ve decided to cross a line is not a safe manoeuvre.

The worst of all crashes out there is the head-on variety. That oncoming driver is not required to yield to you just because you need to get around something — unless, of course, it’s an emergency action. So slow down a bit, breathe and wait until you can pass safely — if you really need to pass in the first place.

I’m still getting a number of complaints about dazzle headlights. I wrote about this a while back, and the problem is that current Canadian and B.C. regulations only talk about how high and how far headlights must illuminate the road in front.

These regulations don’t get into the type of lighting manufacturers use. It’s time for that to change.

Extra bright xenon and LED lights are blinding, particularly on rainy or drizzly nights, common around here. I think it’s becoming a lot worse as manufacturers now compete with each other in finding new ways to create funky artistic vehicle front ends with seemingly brighter and brighter lights.

Tom from Courtney wrote about being blinded by an oncoming van as he tried to turn onto the Trans-Canada. In this case though, the vehicle had a bar or box of dazzlers mounted in the middle of its grille. Totally illegal.

The motor vehicle regulations are clear that you can only have one or two headlights mounted on each side of the front of your vehicle — period. They can’t be lower than 56 centimetres nor higher than than 1.37 metres. There are several regulations in the books that could see a vehicle like that removed from the road.

Trace, from B.C.’s Road Safety at Work program, wanted to remind us about the need for enhanced safety around Malahat road construction as we enter the winter time in earnest.

Road crews are vulnerable at the best of times, but with the snow dumps that can occur on the Malahat their work becomes treacherous.

The messages are clear: Slow down, avoid distractions, especially the phone, and most importantly, pay attention to what the flagger is telling you to do.

Trace also reminds us that when there’s a vehicle on the side of the highway flashing a blue, red or amber light, you are required to slow down and move into the left lane of travel, unless it’s unsafe to do that.

So it’s not just for emergency vehicles. It’s also for tow trucks as well as road service and utility vehicles.

Melvin is concerned about people passing on the right. He’s noted more than once while waiting at a red light that some drivers pass on the right to make a right turn. A few drivers are going into bike lanes to make that right turn.

If there is not a lane designated for travel for that right turn, you can’t legally pass cars to do it — especially if there’s a bike lane. Crossing that solid white line to enter that bike lane is illegal. It’s a bike lane — not a right turn lane.

Melvin also points out that he has seen drivers fail to use those centre lanes designated for left or right turns. They instead stop in the left lane for through travel and make their turn from there. Very dangerous.

Not only are you blocking a lane where other drivers expect to have a clear passage, but you run the risk of turning in front of a car coming up from behind you in that left turn lane. It would be tough talking your way out of that one.

Thanks for all the reader emails. Sometimes it takes a while to answer, but I do read every one of them.

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