Steve Wallace: You have driving questions, I have answers

More questions and comments from readers: Jill had a very timely observation of a recent Tim Hortons TV commercial, in which the young student driver orders a couple of items from the drive-through window and proceeds to drive away with one hand on the wheel and a large to-go cup in the other. She wanted to know my thoughts on that.

A professional driving instructor would not allow it. The police view it as distracted driving, particularly if a crash happens in this circumstance. Proper parental practice drives between lessons are very important.

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Maybe Tim Hortons should hire a driving consultant prior to putting these ads on TV. The franchisees must be cringing!

John, from Nanaimo, asked about the legality of a left signal in a roundabout. The law says a right signal is required to leave a roundabout, but is silent when it comes to using a left signal to tell other drivers you wish to either stay in the circle until a further exit, or go around again because you missed the proper exit.

Using the left signal to tell others you wish to stay in the circle at each exit opportunity is a good idea. Although there is no legal responsibility to do so, it does increase communication and safety in roundabouts.

Chris suggested all drivers and passengers carry a list of medications they have been prescribed. If admitted to a hospital, while unable to communicate, it would eliminate the guessing game that is often experienced by medical staff at emergency wards.

Sheldon asked why it is always deemed to be the fault of the driver backing up, when a mishap occurs.

It is a standard practice among insurance companies to find such fault. It must be seen to be safe before backing up. Therefore, any driver in reverse will be found to be wholly or partially at fault. It is best to find a drive-through space, or back in to park.

Tom asked about bracing against the headrest before an expected rear-end collision. In my conversations with several doctors concerning this situation, there is one recurring theme. When a driver is anticipating the collision from behind, the muscles tensing in anticipation seem to compound the whiplash injury. The injury might be lessened by pressing against the headrest. The unsuspecting hit seems less injurious. Nevertheless, I will get a world-expert opinion at the Baltimore international driving school convention later this year. Stay tuned!

Simon wanted clarification concerning a pedestrian controlled traffic light, where there is no intersecting street. He believes it is legal to proceed on a red solid traffic light when the pedestrians have cleared. He is correct. This is a little-known rule that has never been rescinded. Hastings Street in Vancouver is a good example. I do not recommend this practice, since so few people know about it — even some police are often oblivious to this irregular circumstance. It is safest to stay put until it is clear to go on the green flashing light. Do the predictable, despite the legality.

Chris suggested a front daytime running light and a left-side rear-view mirror should be mandatory for all cyclists. This would guard against oncoming drivers turning left in front of the cyclist, and allow the cyclist a proximity reading of motor vehicles approaching from behind.

An anonymous reader wanted to remind others that it is only legal to move to the curb to set up a right turn when a dashed white line is present. Cyclists have exclusive use of the lane otherwise. A driver should occupy the whole right side at the curb, to protect the cyclist.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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