If I'm in the right lane on a highway, do I legally have to let in cars that are merging into my lane? – Nancy, Vancouver
Here's the lane truth: there's no rule that says you have to let in merging drivers. But, it is a nice thing to do if you can, police say.
"If you're already in that lane, you're not required by law to let somebody in, but it's obviously a courtesy," says Vancouver Police Const. Brian Montague. "But they're the ones who need to properly merge."
Once you're in a lane, you have control over that lane. Any time another driver is trying to get into your lane, they're required to wait until it's safe.
That means they can't just turn on their signals and expect you to yield to them. They have to slow down and, if necessary, come to a complete stop.
Drivers of merging vehicles could be charged if they butt in when it's not clear – even if you hit the merging vehicle from behind, police say.
"Drivers in the lane do not have to yield to traffic that's merging," says Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe.
"It would be nice for the public to offer that consideration and let other traffic in," Stibbe says. "Consideration is something drivers lack, and we all need to be a little kinder on the road."
The best way to let in a merging vehicle depends on the situation. It could mean speeding up just a little to get ahead of them, slowing down a little to let them in front of you, or switching lanes.
When traffic's slowed to a crawl on expressways during rush hour, sometimes you see cars taking turns letting in merging vehicles.
The same thing happens when one lane is closed up ahead because of construction or an accident.
Taking turns helps traffic flow. But even then, you're not legally required to let another car into your lane.
"You're not legally required to let them in, but it's pretty – disrespectful isn't the right word – irresponsible to block them out," says Montague. "That's where it escalates from a traffic issue to a road rage issue."
FORWARD OR BACKWARD?
Your story on whether it is safer to pull forward or backward into a parking spot, failed to mention that it's illegal to back onto any road in Ontario. Therefore, you are not allowed to back out of your driveway at any time. – Name withheld
Unless your driveway leads directly onto Highway 401, you're allowed to back out.
"The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) does not regulate which way to park a vehicle into a private driveway," says Ajay Woozageer, Ontario Ministry of Transportation spokesman, in an e-mail. "As with entering onto any roadway, it is the motorist's responsibility to make sure it is safe to do so."
Here's where you might be getting your, er, backward idea. Section 157 of the Highway Traffic Act bans backing a vehicle onto the roadway or shoulder of any highway divided by a median strip on which the maximum speed limit is in excess of 80 km/h.
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