Readers' questions are always welcome.
Here are some of the most recent queries.
- John H. asked what to do when being threatened by a tailgater. The most common crash on our roads is the rear-end collision. Drivers are usually unaware of the relationship between speed and space needed to stop a vehicle, especially in an emergency. I have harped about this simple fact of physics before. If a driver doubles or triples the speed of the vehicle, it takes four times and nine times respectively as far to come to a stop, not two or three times.
It is a good idea to change lanes when being tailgated. When there is not an additional escape lane, lower the speed of your vehicle slightly. This will alert the offending driver.
Using the four-way-flashers is another way to draw attention to this dangerous situation. Most tailgaters are just not paying attention to their driving and are somewhat embarrassed by their behaviour. They usually back off immediately.
The most irritating tailgaters are those who are setting up for a pass. Roadrage situations should be avoided at all costs. The road shoulder is often the best option for safety and security when tailgating becomes a threat. Turning is also a last resort to eliminate the tailgater problem.
Never increase or decrease speed dramatically.
- Bob A. wants me to clarify the legal crosswalk designation. Crosswalks do not have to be marked in order to have the force of law.
Any end-of-the-block crossing situation is a legal crosswalk. They are much easier to identify when marked by overhead lights or dramatic road markings. Remember, "zebra" crosswalk lines do not appear at crosswalks where stop signs and stop lights are situated. Solid crosswalk lines do appear in these mandatory stop locations. Drivers must stop when a pedestrian displays an intention to cross the road at a legally constituted crosswalk. (More on pedestrian responsibilities will appear in a future column.)
- Katherine B. would like
to know when it is appropriate to pass on the right to avoid getting stuck behind a driver turning left at an intersection. It is legal to pass a left turner from behind if no white line separates the shoulder of the road from the normally travelled portion. It is not legal to cross a solid white line between lanes to do so. It is not legal to use the gravel portion of the shoulder either. It is a good idea to first check that you are not being passed before attempting this manoeuvre.
- Heather W. wants to clarify the emergency-vehicle regulation. She was mystified when several vehicles on the other side of the road kept going in the face of an approaching ambulance, lights flashing and sirens sounding. She was kind enough to supply me with section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act."On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right-of-way and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed." A new system of tremor-like compression, accompanying the sound and flashing emergency lights, is being tested for use in several cities.
- John J. wanted me to remind everyone about the simple first-come, firstserved rule at four-way stop intersections. It does not matter whether a driver is turning or travelling straight through. When drivers arrive at the same time, the vehicle on the right should proceed first.
More Q and A next week.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the Central Interior of B.C. He is the former Canadian vice-president of the Driving School Association of the Americas and a certified teacher with a degree from the University of Manitoba.