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Left-lane hogs to be targeted in BC
In late March, the BC Government introduced legislation to penalize “left-lane hogs”, slower-moving vehicles that prevent others from passing on the left. By blocking the fast lane, left-lane hogs reduce road efficiency and increase the frustration of fellow drivers. Above all, they increase the number of collisions on BC highways.
“Whether it’s ICBC, collision information or RCMP traffic reports, failure to keep right except to pass is a cause of many collisions across British Columbia,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone. This new legislation would empower the police to ticket slower drivers who fail to keep right.
The left lane may be known as the “passing lane”, but the vagueness of Section 158 (“Passing on right”) of the BC Motor Vehicle Act has hindered enforcement in our province. The proposed amendments clarify that drivers are to travel in the right lane(s) on highways, unless they are:
- Overtaking and passing another vehicle,
- Moving left to allow traffic to merge,
- Preparing for a left hand turn,
- Moving left to pass an official vehicle displaying a flashing light.
Drivers still may use the left lane if it is unsafe to do otherwise (e.g. debris in the right lane) but, in general, passing on the right leads to a confusing dynamic among drivers. Such variation in speed sees more drivers making unnecessary and dangerous lane changes. Rule of thumb: unless you are passing, merging or turning—keep right.
The rate of highway fatalities in Canada is astronomically high, particularly when compared internationally. Only about 100 more fatalities occur annually on the German Autobahn—in a country home to 47 million more people than Canada.
Famous for its 130 km/h stretches, and areas with no posted speed limit, the Autobahn would not be effective without strict “lane discipline”, or separation of traffic by speed. It is expected for drivers to know their place, to anticipate and consider other vehicles, to keep the left lane free for passing, and to work together to keep traffic moving.
The BC Government has commenced its “left lane” awareness campaign in anticipation of the new law. ICBC instructors may be clear with their students, but print and online materials have focused on “highway courtesy”, rather than explicit rules. Moving the emphasis from manners to legality is far overdue.
With summer fast approaching, BC’s highways will see an increase in tourists, trailers and campers over the coming months. Since summer is the most dangerous season for driving in our province, with more driving fatalities than in winter, the immediate enforcement of left-lane hogs is imperative.
The Campbell, Renaud Blog will continue to track the progress of Bill 15.
(Posted April 13, 2015)
Update: Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2015, given Royal Assent on May 14, 2015.
Bill 15 – 2015, Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, as introduced to the 4th Session of the 40th Parliament, Monday, March 23, 2015
15 The following section is added:
When drivers must not use leftmost lane
151.1 (1) In this section, “leftmost lane”, in relation to a laned roadway to which this section applies, means the lane that is furthest to the left of the marked lanes available for traffic proceeding in the same direction, other than
(a) a bus lane,
(b) a high occupancy vehicle lane, or
(c) a designated use lane.
(2) This section applies to a laned roadway if
(a) there are 2 or more marked lanes available for traffic proceeding in the same direction, other than a bus lane, a high occupancy vehicle lane or a designated use lane,
(b) the speed limit is at least 80 km/h, and
(c) the actual speed of traffic is at least 50 km/h.
(3) A driver of a vehicle in the leftmost lane must exit the lane on the approach of another vehicle in that lane, if it is safe to do so, except when
(a) overtaking and passing a third vehicle,
(b) allowing traffic to merge,
(c) preparing for a left hand turn at an intersection or into an exit, a private road or a driveway, or
(d) passing an official vehicle stopped on the side of or on the roadway.