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Driving Concerns

Can I blame my car accident on the other driver's bad signalling? Add to ...

I was waiting to turn onto a road and I thought it was safe for me to go, because the oncoming car was signalling to turn off the road. So I turned, and that signalling car didn’t turn – it kept going straight and hit me. Can that driver be charged for inappropriate use of signal lights? – Jim, Alberta.

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Once a driver’s flicked on the turn signal, he’s allowed to change his mind, says Alberta Transportation.

“There is no offence associated with a driver signalling an intention to change lanes or turn and then choosing not to do so,” writes Alberta Transportation spokesperson Nancy Beasley Hosker in an email.

There are plenty of reasons why a driver might have his turn signal on but not make that turn. Maybe he doesn’t realize it’s still on. Maybe Siri’s giving really confusing directions. It might be annoying, but it’s not illegal.

Assume, and pay: Don’t assume it’s safe to make a turn just because an oncoming vehicle is signalling. If you make your move and he doesn’t turn, it’ll be you, not him, who gets charged.

“Before starting, turning or changing the course or direction of their vehicle, drivers are required to ascertain that there is sufficient space in which to make the movement they are going to attempt in safety,” Beasly Hosker says. “Failure to ascertain sufficient space for a movement is an offense that results in a $115 fine under section 9(a) of the Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation.”

Alberta drivers can also fined another $172 under section 38(a) for turning onto another road when it’s not safe.

Frigid finding

I have a 2008 Honda Odyssey that I bought new. Until this winter, I didn’t know that the block heater it came with didn’t work. I plugged it in on the driveway when it was -27 C, and the van was dead the next morning. Honda checked the block heater and said it had probably never worked. A new one is $260. Shouldn’t Honda still cover it since it was broken from the beginning and I just didn’t know? -- Rose

Your driveway discovery was two years too late – the block heater is covered by Honda’s 3-year/ 60,000 km accessory warranty, Honda Canada says.

The warranty says: “If any defects should be found and reported to a Honda dealer within the specified period, necessary repairs or replacements will be made at no cost to you immediately upon Honda’s aknowledgement that such defects are attributable to faulty material or workmanship at the time of original manufacture.”

How can you tell if your block heater works before you wake up to a car that won’t start? One way is to get it tested when you bring your car in for service, says Patrick Brown-Harrison, instructor at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary.

Do-it-yourself option: Listening for a hum or a sizzle might not always work. Sometimes you can’t hear much even when the heater is working properly. If you happen to have an ohmmeter handy, you can check the resistance to make sure electricity is flowing through the heating element, Brown-Harrison says. Take the block heater’s plug, the one sticking out from the car (unplugged from the wall or extension cord) and place the probes of the meter across the plug’s prongs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtIKNkV89ac There should be about 10 ohms of resistance.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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