Don't Block the Intersection

Blocked IntersectionThis reader's suggestion came in the form of a rant. He was upset at drivers who were stuck in the intersection when the light turns red because traffic on the other side of the intersection was already stopped, leaving no room to exit. Blocking traffic on the cross street was ignorant and those drivers needed to take a look at how they disregard the rules of the road.

He's correct, you should not enter an intersection on the green light unless you can clear it if the light turns red. It is illegal to stop, stand or park in an intersection in British Columbia unless you are avoiding conflict with traffic, complying with the law or obeying the directions of a peace officer.

We were taught the Smith System of driving during recruit training in Regina. One of the rules, aim high in steering, taught that the farther down the road you see while driving (and it's talking about seeing, not just looking), the less likely you are to have a collision. Or, in a case like this, the less likely you are to be caught blocking an intersection when the lights change.

Yes, if you do this, you probably save a few seconds at the expense of everyone else but how do you feel when you are in a hurry and someone does it to you? What if an ambulance or fire truck need to get through? Your convenience should not override everyone else's.

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your recent article re: blocking intersectionson a green light might be missinterpreted by some readers. The Quote "It is illegal to stop, stand or park in an intersection" although qualified might easilly be interpreted that when turning left at a red light one should NOT stand in the intersection. I have seen this often and it does nothing for the flow of traffic. I do believe that the proper protocol when turning left at red lights with oncoming traffic blocking your turn is to proceed into the centre of the intersection and wait for a safe option to compete the turn. 

Maybe this could be pointed out as a footnote to this article

You are Correct

This is an acceptable action when making a left turn.

You are entering the intersection because you expect to be able to clear it by turning left because you will have right of way for that turn when the lights change. If there is oncoming traffic you need to stop and stand in order to avoid a conflict. Having done so, oncoming traffic is obligated to yield to you and let you turn, although you should NEVER expect this.

Of course, this assumes that the lane you are turning into is clear. If it is not, you must not enter the intersection in the same manner as the straight ahead scenario.

One of the problems I have with my weekly article is that I am limited to about 250 to 300 words by some of the newspapers that print them. It's a delicate balance between brevity and providing sufficient information, so I always add a link to the article here and try to pick reference links that will teach an interested person more.

The Job at Hand

As a combination commercial vehicle driver I have been caught blocking the intersection several times, and it is not the lack of looking ahead but, other drvers, four wheelers.

While waiting for the lane ahead to start moving and/or space for my unit to clear the intersection, one, two,and even three vehicles will, once I start to proceed through, will dart from beside me, do an illegal intersection lane change across in front of my unit and "steal" that space away from me, on occasion, stranding me across the intersection.

This as you know turns me into the "bad guy" in everyone elses eyes.

And, it seems, all the education in the world won't help as long as everybodys mind is on themselves, and could care less about the reprocussions of their actions while driving.

Since my job is driving that is what I'm thinking about. If your job is, say a computer tech, chances are your thinking about that, while driving, rather than the job at hand which "IS" driving.

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