Changing Lanes in Intersections
I am often asked to tell the motoring public that it is illegal to change lanes in an intersection. I cannot do this, because there is no specific rule prohibiting this driving action in B.C.'s Motor Vehicle Act. However, a defensive driver will choose not to do this, even if it is legal.
The Rules About Changing Lanes
The Motor Vehicle Act prohibits lane changes when doing so is unsafe or will affect the travel of another vehicle. In addition a driver must not change lanes if it means crossing a solid line.
If there is no traffic in or near the intersection the lane change would be allowed as solid lines are not usually painted within intersections.
This rule also speaks about approaching intersections in the appropriate lane if you intend to turn. It would make sense to approach the intersection in the lane that you intend to use to travel through it as well.
Keep It Simple to Reduce the Risk
More than 50% of collisions in British Columbia occur in intersections, it is wise to keep vehicle movements there uncomplicated. This is why defensive driving prohibits making a lane change within the intersection. The choice removes one element of uncertainty for other drivers and that creates a safer driving environment.
Is It Safe For Me To Turn?
If you are going to turn at an intersection you probably look at which lanes drivers are approaching in and base your decision on whether they will be in your way if they stay in that lane. Once you commit to the turn it may be too late to prevent a collision if another driver makes a last second change.
Think carefully about what this might mean to you the next time you are tempted to change lanes while traveling through an intersection!
What is the Driver Ahead of You Doing?
Anticipation is one key to safe driving. You should not find yourself making a last minute swerve around the driver ahead of you who signalled (or didn't signal) a turn.
The minor inconvenience suffered from staying in the lane and slowing or stopping is a worthwhile trade for the major inconvenience of causing a collision by making a last second lane change in the intersection.
Make the Safe Choice and Stick With It!
In summary, choose the lane you want to use and occupy it well in advance of the intersection. If you decide that it is not the correct lane to use after all, wait until you are well clear of the intersection and then change lanes again as necessary.