Turn left when the light is red – Behind the wheel

Turn left at the red light

Tim Schewe- | History: 372422

When I was relatively new to police work, I was patrolling behind a car that stopped at a red light with the left turn signal flashing.

The next thing I knew, the car turned left against the red light. Well the lights and siren came on and I chased after this supposed red light runner. It would be an easy ticket, or so I thought.

“What do you mean officer?” asked the driver. “I’m allowed to turn left at a red light if I’m turning into a one-way street,” the driver said.

I collected his papers and returned to my police car. I received my copy of the Motor Vehicle Act and carefully read section 129 on red lights. This pilot was absolutely right. I returned his documents and apologized with a face that was probably as red as that traffic light had been.

While we’re talking about the Motor Vehicle Act, Section 165 states that left turns on red lights must be made from the leftmost lane of the street you are leaving and into the first available lane of traffic on the street you are entering.

Unless you are leaving a one-way street, remember that you must look farther across the intersection for other road users when checking the shoulder before turning left on a red. Traffic won’t be right next to your vehicle like it is when you turn right at a red light.

Priority rules for left turns apply. Drivers turning left on a red light must yield to both cross-traffic and right-hand traffic on the other side of the intersection if necessary.

Some drivers will be unhappy that you make this turn and others will be unhappy if you don’t. As always, you must choose to do what you are comfortable with to be safe and that choice may be to wait for the light to change.

Left turns may also be prohibited by signs at intersections. The ban could prohibit all left turns or turn left at specific times of the day.

The laws are not uniform across North America and you will need to ensure that this turn is permitted before doing so when driving outside British Columbia.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Comments are closed.