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Mid-block Left-turns Again

In this article we will look again at mid-block left-turns. The recent article on this topic has resulted reader response concerning the right of a driver to turn left mid-block, over a solid double line. The response concerns whether it is in fact legal to cross a solid double line mid block, for the purpose of entering or leaving the roadway.

Can you cross a double solid line?

It is a popularly held belief that double solid lines are barriers to be respected as if they were concrete dividers. This thought is well-founded on the basis of Motor Vehicle Act section 155(1)(a). “Despite anything in this Part, if a highway is marked with a solid double line, the driver of a vehicle must drive it to the right of the line only.

However, s. 156 provides an exception, which ICBC’s RoadSense comments on as follows:

“If the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle, the provision of sections 151 and 155 are suspended with respect to the driver while the vehicle is entering or leaving the highway. In other words, turning mid-block over double solid lanes is permitted as long as you do this “carefully and safely and don’t impede other traffic, and there are no signs prohibiting such turns.”

In effect, when double solid lines mark the highway, section 155(1) (a) is an absolute restriction against passing other vehicles. But it does not absolutely restrict passage.

Challenging left turns

Mid-block left turns are typically a huge challenge. Moreover, they are potentially very dangerous, whether the line is a double solid yellow line, a single solid or broken yellow line or even a double broken yellow line. This is now true pretty well everywhere in commercial areas in the lower mainland and Fraser Valley. The biggest challenge of all may be in downtown Vancouver.

The key to make a left turn mid-block is that the driver cannot make the movement unless it is safe to do so. It is perfectly clear that the presence of oncoming traffic will make the movement unsafe. What is also a consideration is whether the movement is safe; if it in effect causes a traffic jam of major proportions behind the motorist who makes a mid-block left turn. This seems to be what the reader response on this point is about, and quite rightly so. If something annoys and frustrates other drivers; if it creates a potential for rear-end collisions, it may not be safe or reasonable, and should not be pursued.

In summary, a left turn mid-block is not an option if it interferes with traffic flow. Moreover, it is entirely consistent with the legislation, and a recommendation for safe driving. The Motor Vehicle Act, in its essence, says one thing, and that is “Drive Safely”, and safe driving involves a great deal of consideration for other motorists using the roadway. Find a better place to turn, than mid-block.

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