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driving concerns

I was driving with my 37-year-old son and we got into a lively discussion about how to turn at an intersection. I always understood that you have to start and end a turn in the same lane, whether it’s a left or a right turn. So, if I’m turning left onto a street with two or three lanes, I turn left into the left-most lane. My son often turns left into one of the other lanes. He says it’s legal as long as it’s clear. I think that’s dangerous because other drivers don’t expect him to turn into another lane. Who’s right here? – Erika, Ottawa

When it comes to all turns at intersections with multiple lanes, the law’s not middle-of-the-road – you have to stay in your lane.

Section 141 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act states that when turning in a road with multiple lanes, you must turn into the lane “that corresponds to the lane from which the turn was commenced.”

So, if you’re turning left from the left-most lane, you have to turn into the left-most lane. On a two-way street, that would be the lane closest to the centre line or median.

On a one-way street, that would be the lane closest to the left curb.

Similar rules apply if you’re turning right.

When you’re turning right from the right-most lane, you can’t turn into the middle or left-most lane – you have to turn into the right-most lane.

That’s the lane closest to the right curb. You have to turn into that lane even if it’s ending soon.

Sometimes, roads have more than one designated turning lane. There, the same rules apply – finish the turn in the lane where you started it.

If you turn into the wrong lane in Ontario, it’s an $85 fine and two demerits.

While the wording varies by province, the rules are similar across Canada.

The rules are there for a reason, says driving instructor Ian Law.

“With someone swinging wide from their right turn into the left lane and another driver swinging their left turn wide into the right lane means their pathways will cross,” says Law, president and chief instructor of ILR Car Control School in Mount Albert, Ont. Turning into the wrong lane is always a bad idea, even if you need to be in that lane to make an upcoming turn, Law says.

“Do the turn legally and then make that lane change a little farther down the road when it is safe to do so,” Law says.


Siren call: Should I pull over when I hear an ambulance?

What am I supposed to do when there’s an ambulance behind me with its siren on? Can I just slow down? Do I pull over and stop? What about if I’m driving and I see an emergency vehicle with its lights on? – Lise, Montreal

When you see flashing lights or hear sirens, slow down and move to the right.

In Quebec, the law says that if you hear sirens, you should reduce speed, keep as far to the right “as practicable” and, if necessary, stop.

If you don’t, it’s a $200 to $300 fine and four demerit points.

Other provinces have similar rules. While they don’t all require you to stop, they all require you to pull over to the right.

In Ontario, you have to stop.

Section 159 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act says you immediately come to a stop “as near as is practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway and parallel therewith and clear of any intersection.”

What about if you see an emergency vehicle or a tow truck pulled over on the side of the road with its lights on?

In every province, you have to slow down. Most provinces, including Quebec, require you to move over to give the vehicle more room – but only if you can do it without entering the oncoming lane.

In Quebec, the law says to change lanes if there’s another lane going in the same direction. If there isn’t another lane, then “put as much distance as possible” between your car and the emergency vehicle while staying in your lane.

Have a driving question? Send it to globedrive@globeandmail.com and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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