CASE LAW - R v Cram

BC Courts Coat of ArmsDavid Cram was driving eastbound on Water Street in Kelowna, B.C. At the intersection with Clement Avenue, the vehicle in front of him stopped, signalling for a left turn. Mr. Cram slowed and after passing the sidewalk curb bulge passed by the stopped vehicle on the right hand side. The roadway at this point is marked for one lane of travel but is wide enough for two vehicles to use. Cst. Paetz was following Mr. Cram in a marked police vehicle and stopped him, issuing a traffic ticket for illegally passing on the right. A judicial justice convicted Mr. Cram of the offence after a trial.

The conviction was appealed and Mr. Justice Saunders overturned the conviction. He found that the judicial justice erred in deciding that the area of roadway Mr. Cram used to pass was "not improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic." The discussion of where a driver may legally pass another vehicle on the right is useful.


What a doozie! Cops rarely (480 times in 2014) ticket for passing on the right, yet it happens all the friggin time! But in this case it was so obviously legal, the irony of it all is just off the scale!

Very few motorists know the law concerning passing on the right, and most actually break it on a daily basis. Passing on the right, with no extra lane is OK only if the vehicle immediately in-front of you is turning left. But when drivers are intending to turn right at an intersection (red light) they will scooch over to the right into the parking lane and pass multiple vehicles that are proceeding straight to make their right turn. Every time they pass a vehicle - that's a count of illegal passing on the right. I'm sure there are about 100,000 cases of that have occurred just today in Vancouver.

But on the other hand, believe it or not, I've met drivers that think it is illegal in BC to pass on the right on laned roadways with-in your own lane. (That is illegal on autobahn).

So - passing on the right is OK in BC in a separate lane. And passing on the right in the same lane is also OK in BC - but only if passing a vehicle (or several) that is (are) signalling to turn left.

Sorry Tim, that one made me smile.

Now, what would be really amazing is if we ever saw a police officer ticketing a driver waiting to turn left, but stopped in some sort of ambiguous middle-of-the-road position more than a meter away from the centre-line, thus blocking anyone from - perfectly legally - passing them on the right per Section 158.

Because that is illegal, per Section 165 (2)(a).

Traffic laws. They're designed not only to prevent accidents, but to help the flow of traffic and keep things moving so long as it's safe. When are people going to get that?

With an increasing frequency I am now waiting patiently in a line of vehicle at an intersection staring at a right turning vehicle blocking the intersection at a 45 degree angle waiting for pedestrians to clear their way. As "close to the right as practicable" is not on their mind at all. Worst is when cars behind me get impatient and cross over into the on-coming lane of the intersection (regardless of the centre-line status) only to meet an emerging left turner head-on.

Manners and being polite on the roads really escapes some drivers, and some drivers seem to have their horse blinders on -  completely unable to consider anything outside of their narrow 30 degree field of view: 15 degrees each way from their nose.