Oncoming Traffic Failing to Keep Right

Unsafe PassOne thing worse than what you described last week is when there is a road obstruction and people seem to think they have the right to cross the centre line into on coming traffic. Maybe you could address the legal side of that. My understanding is that on coming traffic has the right of way.

This reader describes something that is almost seems to be expected behaviour. The driver of one vehicle comes upon a perceived hazard such as a pedestrian, cyclist or parked vehicle and moves partly into the oncoming lane to make room. Oncoming traffic moves to the right to avoid the encroaching vehicle and most of the time there is not a problem. However, if there is no room to move right or the driver is not anticipating the move a collision may result.

The rules have been made for a reason, uniformity, predictability and the avoidance of collisions. The reader is correct, the oncoming vehicle does have the right of way and the encroaching driver is breaking the rules for the sake of convenience. Rather than slow or stop to let oncoming traffic by first, they will take a chance and put everyone at risk.

The Motor Vehicle Act does provide for crossing the line in some circumstances to avoid an obstacle on the highway. The driver doing so must have a clear view for a safe distance and make the move without affecting the travel of any other vehicle. The exemption does not apply when you must cross a solid line.

Reference Links:


My interpretation of crossing a solid line is that it is permissible but only if safe to do so in order to avoid an obstacle or hazard on the right shoulder or side of the road. I also understand that this rule does not apply to a double solid line where a driver may cause a vehicle to cross the double solid line but only upon the direction of a peace officer or someone authorized by a peace officer to do so. Have a safe and merry holiday.

On a two-lane road, if something has fallen on to the roadway, or there is some other impassable object in one lane, your article would seem to indicate that a driver approaching that object would have no choice but to sit and wait until traffic control arrived -- even if there was no one coming -- just because of a solid line.

Surely there is some room in law for common sense.

The scenario happens over and over again on two-lane roads all over the province -- especially in the mountains where rockfall is common.  If the rock is too big to move, you have to drive around it.

Best regards,

Yes, I didn't quite come out and say it, but that is what the law about double solid lines actually says.

Highway lines

155  (1) Despite anything in this Part, if a highway is marked with

(a) a solid double line, the driver of a vehicle must drive it to the right of the line only,

There is no exemption to this rule. However, you are correct, if you physically cannot go around something has to give. The trouble is, all that I can tell you is that unless traffic control is in place, legally you cannot. If something were to happen because you drove around the courts will base liability on the rules, so I have to stick with them when I answer.

I guess that the next time I get stuck behind an immobile object on a highway with a double-solid yellow line, I'll just have to stay there until the end of time ... 

Rule of thumb I go by if the approaching driver moves over to make room and we both can see there is no obstacles on their side of the road I will go around. Same as when I am approaching where the oncoming lane is partially blocked. I'll signal right and move over to allow the other traffic by.

If the approaching driver has made no attempt to move over I unfortunately jump to the conclusion it is a typical driver that sees no further than 5 metres in front of their vehicle and completely oblivious to what is happening around them. I stop and wait for an opening.

Most of our secondary roads and even sections of our main highways there is little road width beyond the white fog line. I feel uncomfortable passing bicycles, and pedestrians that are walking with the flow of traffic, which technically is breaking the law, but they are never ticketed, so I like to give extra space. If this requires me to cross the centre line so be it. On the other hand if I see a car approaching with the same situation and I can safely move over I do so.

Unfortunately it is a sad situation that many would prefer to be dead right than to use a little common sense and also some courtesy to others using the road.