Rule changes don’t always make sense

Published by Liane Langlois on

But they still happen...

by R. Bruce Thomas

Well, about a week after the last AMSS monthly edition was published the AB Government changed the highway rules for passing stopped vehicles with flashing lights.

We've had to slow down or move over for Police, Ambulances, tow trucks and firetrucks and the new rules include any roadside workers and there are special rules for snowplows also.

I'm not going to try to summarize the new rules as I believe they will be changing again in the not too distant future. You can read the rules here:

If you've read the new rules you may have picked up on why I think there will be another change coming, and why I think this rule will cause nothing but grief.

The rule as presented on that web page states if you are in the closest lane to stopped roadside vehicles with flashing lights then you must move over to the far lane. In the example I used last time, where there are three lanes between Calgary and Airdrie, this wording would force all traffic into the single far-left lane if there is a stopped vehicle on the right shoulder with flashing lights. I believe they mean move one lane over to leave a vacant lane closest to the emergency/roadside workers. I don't believe the intention is to leave two vacant lanes on the highway.

But don't quote me on that until/if they make the change.

Enough of that.

I also recently wrote about some things to take into consideration when heading down to the United States. After riding down there in June I realized another item which I had forgotten about.

A number of people are aware of my distaste for the Canadian implementation of  Daytime Running Lights on cars.

Back in the 1970's, when I bought my first bike, the laws were changed so that motorcycle headlights had to come on when the key was turned to start the bike. This was done to make motorcycles more visible on the roads.

Then, in the 1980's, rules were implemented to make Daytime Running Lights (DRL) mandatory on all vehicles. Needless to say, this negated the extra visibility afforded to motorcycles when they alone had their headlight on all the time.

Speed sensors and ambient light sensors could have made it possible for other vehicles to improve their visibility in situations where it was warranted (highways, darkness, rain, fog, other low-light situations) without making motorcycles once again fade into the noise of all vehicles.

The United States doesn't mandate Daytime Running Lights and this makes two-lane highways less safe than if vehicles had to run DRL's.

A number of States (and I haven't kept track of where I've seen this) have certain designated Highway Safety Corridors with signage to turn on your headlights. At the end of the Safety Corridor there is signage reminding drivers to turn their lights off.

If lights on for 5 or 6 miles improves safety, then why not have mandated DRLs all the time?

Anyhow, being extra cautious on two-lane highways in the United States is this months big safety tip.

Categories: News