Q&A - Slow Vehicle Pullouts

Q&A ImageI have a concern about the road between Port Alberni and the West Coast. When they redid the slow vehicle pullouts, they dressed them up to look exactly like passing lanes. Now everyone travels in those lanes.

road sign announcing slow vehicle pullouts

The only difference between the slow vehicle pullouts and regular passing lanes is that the slow vehicle pullouts don't have signs telling drivers that the lane is ending (why would it, it's not a travel or a passing lane - it's a slow vehicle pullout).

lane ending road sign

Example of Slow Vehicle Pullouts

Dangerous Free For All

The result is that you get a big free for all at 80 kph with everyone in the pullout flying back onto the highway and everyone in the left lane locking up their brakes or swerving into the oncoming lane.

Some of the pullouts are on the shoulder with a solid white line, but people still bomb down the shoulder and cut back onto the highway in a panic because the pullout ends abruptly.

One of the pullouts actually leaves the highway into a rest area where people stop to hang out at a creek, but cars still barrel through there and then fly right back out onto the highway.

MOTI Blames Idiot Drivers

I called the Ministry of Transportation and voiced my concern and suggested maybe some clearer signage and painting different lines on the road, but they said the only problem with that road are the idiots driving it.

I've since contacted someone who works in loss prevention at ICBC, and she will look into it.

I was wondering if you've maybe noticed this phenomenon. I don't know if you get out that way much, but it's especially bad in the summertime with all of the rental motor homes,etc. It's not uncommon to follow a vehicle all the way to Tofino because they drive 50 kph the whole way, but then boot it through the pullouts (or passing lanes, I'm not even sure what to call them anymore).

Watched a Collision Occur

Last summer i towed a motorcyclist who tried to overtake a motor home at the top of Sutton Pass. There is a pullout with a solid white line up there. The motor home didn't slow down and swerved right back onto the highway when the pullout ended. He clipped the guy on the motorbike and kept right on going. The bike was a mess, but not as bad as the guy's arm. 

That's the only injury story I have about these slow vehicle pullouts, but I'm sure it won't be the last.


Yes, I used to drive that section of highway often when I was with Central Island Highway Patrol. I was aware of the pullouts and did charge slow drivers who failed to use them to let others by. The offence is for disobeying a traffic control device.

However, I didn't encounter the problem you describe very often, likely because most often I was driving a marked police vehicle.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

I hope that you are paraphrasing the MOTI reply, but it is interesting to hear them applying a candid characterization to the drivers that are doing this.

I don't think that there is anything different that they can do with the line painting though. There needs to be a broken line to tell people that they are allowed to move right, then a section of solid line to confine them to the pullout and finally a section of broken line again to tell them that they may move left if it is safe to do so.

I do agree with you, lane ending signs should be posted to advise drivers.

ICBC Manuals

I'm surprised that the ICBC driving manuals don't have anything specific to say about slow vehicle pullouts. The commercial vehicle and pulling recreational trailer manuals do show images of the signs related to slow vehicle pullouts and advises that they are regulatory signs but that is all.

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We live out in Ucluelet and during the summer we dread having to drive to Port Alberni.  The pullouts have been changed there are some larger slow vehicle moving pullouts which are marked with the lines the same as a passing lane however the the signage is different and it is labled as a pull out. There are other parts of the rd labled as a pullout that are just solid white lines no broken lines to allow for movement in and out of the lane. Another thing we have noticed is that everytime the lines are repainted along the hwy that they seem to either take out or make even shorter the passing lanes. So you combine the lack of the knowledge of how to  utilize these pullouts, shorter or less passing lanes and then throw in construction and lack of knowledge as to how to follow those signs as well causes for rather frusterating trips.

Theres currently some debate on these pullouts in a local Facebook group.

What would the definition of "slow" be? 

Would a vehicle be required to use one if they were doing the speed limit?

What are the penalties around not using them?

There is no definition of slow and it is only the wording on the sign that is to be interpreted as the offence is disobeying a traffic control device. The penalty is 2 points and $121.

Drivers doing the speed limit would have to use this lane the same way as drivers who are slower on any other multi-laned highway.

Firstly, I must admit that I find it no surprise that the traffic people may have mis-marked the lanes; they just did the same thing in North Vancouver (different subject, but that's on the north side of Marine Drive between West 14th and Fell, where their creation of a solid white line prevents any motor vehicle from legally accessing the right turn lane to go up Fell).

But as a relatively competent driver who has been out to the Island's left coast many times over the last few decades, I have to say that the biggest annoyance on that road is the failure of RV drivers and others who drive Pacific Rim Highway 4 to move out of the way when given - and mandated, by black and white signs - the opportunity to move over and relieve the congestion behind them.

I cannot imagine why these fools (many of whom lack the fundamental skills for this type of road, particularly in an RV) don't realize that helping out all the other folks they've been holding up for ages is in everybody's best interests.

I was aware of the pullouts and did charge slow drivers who failed to use them to let others by.

Good for you! I so often have wished for proper patrolling of that road, instead of radar traps on the longest, safest sections.

To me it seems the biggest problem with "slow vehicles" continues to be that they are slow through the corners and fast on straights and passing lanes. You can drive the sea-to-sky and have cars slow down to 50 km/h on some of the narrow one-lane stretches, and promptly speed-up to 120km/h when a passing lane comes along. They should have some courtesy and slow down in the passing lane stretches instead of speeding up. At-least that's what I do when traveling unknown roads during bad visibility - go extra slow on the right side, to let everyone who wants to get by pass me.