By Jordan W. Charness
This column often prompts questions about driving laws from a variety of readers, and I’m usually happy to answer those questions. Recently, I received a letter that reads more like a traffic law quiz than the usual sort of letter I get. Nonetheless, it does raise many questions worth answering.
The reader’s first question is, “Are daytime lights mandatory? Over the past two months, I have seen many cars without headlights on, travelling during the dark days at excessive speeds. Are they not a traffic hazard?”
According to law, daytime running lights are indeed mandatory. However, this law only applies to recent vehicles that came equipped with daytime running lights. Older vehicles are exempt and there is no obligation to retrofit daytime running lights on a car that wasn’t originally built with them. Driving without daytime running lights is probably not a traffic hazard, but the increased visibility provided by leaving your headlights on during the day will increase the chances of other people seeing your car and perhaps help you avoid an accident.
The letter continues, “Also, at night, many drivers drive with burned-out headlights and or taillights. Do they not realize it or, maybe they just don’t care?”
While I can’t comment whether or not people care or realize whether or not they have a burned-out bulb, the law does require you to drive with all your headlights and taillights working properly.
Third question: “Why is it so difficult to drive on our highways at the posted maximum limit? If you try to maintain a maximum of, say, 100 km/h, someone comes up behind you, tailgates and tries to force you to speed up or pull over. I would think that total curbing of excessive speeders would be a feasible remedy.”
Total curbing of excessive speeders is not a feasible remedy because it would require too much of a police presence and we simply do not have enough police officers available to pull over everyone who speeds. In Quebec, the Societe de l’assurance automobile du Quebec and Transport Quebec have led the way in advertising campaigns to remind people that speeding on the roads can kill.
Fourth question: “Why do many drivers not use their directional signal lights when they are moving over one, two or three lanes? They don’t know how or they were never taught?”
I’m pretty sure they know how and were taught to do so. Sometimes, however, people forget or are too lazy to flick the switch. If caught by the police, these people face a fine ranging from $30-$60.
Fifth question: “Also, many drivers coming onto the highway from a service road force themselves into the regular highway traffic. I was taught that you are supposed to yield to the faster traffic.”
Although you were taught correctly, the access lanes to highways should give you enough space to increase your speed so you can safely join the traffic.
Last question: “Why, in Quebec, is the right-hand lane not designated for slow traffic?”
Actually the opposite is true. In Quebec, the left-hand lane is designated for passing and the right-hand lane is the lane you are supposed to be ordinarily travelling in.
There you have it: today’s traffic quiz courtesy of one of my readers. How many questions did you know the answers to?