It's a Left Turn Lane, not an Acceleration Lane

Two Way Left Turn LanesA gentleman from Courtenay explained about the regular difficulty that he encountered when he used the two way left turn lanes in that city. Most recently, he was travelling northbound on Cliffe Avenue attempting a left turn into Tim Horton's. A woman turned southbound out of the Husky just ahead of him into the two way left turn lane as well. They were now approaching each other head on.

Legally, this woman is required to leave the two way left turn lane by turning left once she has occupied it. The gentleman is entitled to expect that she will obey the law and will not interfere with his left turn. It's a good thing that she used her right turn signal and he saw it. Waiting to turn left prevented a collision that would have occurred had he turned when she accelerated into the first through lane on her right.

Wrongly, many drivers see the relatively quiet two way left turn lane as a way to reduce the complication of crossing three lanes of traffic and occupying the first available lane for their intended direction of travel. Instead, they move into the turn lane, accelerate to the speed of surrounding traffic and then move right into the lane they should have entered in the first instance.

Turning left is one of the more dangerous moves that we make when we drive. When traffic is heavy it can be difficult to track and account for all of the drivers who are following the rules. The woman should not have left the Husky driveway if she could not comfortably reach the correct lane. Probably unwittingly, she made a left turn less safe for someone else when she did this.

Reference Link:


Location of the Incident:


The dreaded two-way left turn lane

What if someone pulls into that two-way left turn lane, stops, and waits for a clear space in traffic to enter and merge? The car would not travel in this lane at all. To prevent the front and rear of the car protruding into both traffic lanes, the car would have to be pointing along the turn lane.

Splitting hairs?



If you cannot complete the left turn in one smooth movement:

Turning left other than at intersection

166  A driver of a vehicle must not turn the vehicle to the left from a highway at a place other than an intersection unless

(c) the driver has ascertained that the movement can be made in safety, having regard to the nature, condition and use of the highway and the traffic that actually is at the time or might reasonably be expected to be on the highway.

Not being able to complete the turn might be considered to be unsafe.

Our provincial driving guide, Learn to Drive Smart says:

Entering a roadway

When you are pulling out of a driveway, alley or parking lot onto a road, stop before the sidewalk or area where pedestrians may be walking. Then pull out carefully, yielding to traffic on the road and waiting for a safe gap.

I learned about making boulevard turns in training, pulling into the middle where you are protected by the boulevard and waiting to complete the turn. In these cases, there was sufficient room that waiting at 90 degrees to the lanes did not encroach on the lane in front or behind my vehicle. This is not the case with a two way left turn lane, as you risk encroaching on the adjacent lanes and obstructing the use of the to way left turn lane.


Submitted by E-mail

Yes, I agree this woman should have waited for a proper time to turn left, however the problem is not all hers. It could have been the driver behind her that was leaning on his horn to force her into this dangerous decision.I have seen it many times when a driver behind the person making the left turn that scares or encourages the person to make a left turn decision at the wrong time.These people that are behind the driver turning left, seem to think the driver should have turned, had enough time to turn etc. It is not the person behind the driver turning left to make that decision when it is safe to turn left. The driver turning left, may have had reasons for not turning. A car approaching from the oncoming traffick that doesn't seem to be slowing down or a pedestrian has decided to start walking through the crosswalk even though they were not supposed to, and many other reasons. Unless the driver behind the person turning left has x-ray vision or can see through vehicles or believes they have a better knowledge of when the driver in the front should turn, then they should stay out of that decision completely. Leave the decision of when to turn left with the proper vehicle at that intersection.

As for all the horn blowers out there that don't have the patience for other drivers on the road, go back to driving school, as you don't obviously know how to operate a vehicle safely.

More on Two-Way middle lanes

I grew up in Quebec in the forties and fifties. Back then there were many miles of two-way-three-lane highways, the middle lane of which was used for passing by cars travelling in either direction. (?!?!) I was too young to think to do any sort of research on this phenomenon. All I could do was to sit (sans seatbelt) wide-eyed watching the oncoming car in the same lane we were in! I was scared. This deadly game of chicken was played out all over Quebec every day. I'd be curious about crash stats from then, especially with a comparison from after that practice was stopped. Not long ago, I was driving in Quebec, on one of those old two-way-three lane highways, and the passing sections are now clearly delineated with double lines painted on the road. Still, I can imaging the regluarity with which these lines are ignored. 

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