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This week, we’re going to go back to the basics and review some basic road skills.

When I first became a motorcycle safety instructor, I was shocked to find my knowledge was lacking. If it’s been a decade or more since you’ve been tested, perhaps you too can use a short refresher.

Rider’s Rules of the Road Quiz

  1. What’s the difference between a single solid yellow line and a single solid white road line?
  2. When are school zone speed limits in effect?
  3. When are playground speed limits in effect?
  4. Are the white signs stating either “Keep right except to pass” or “Slower traffic stay right” a suggestion or a regulatory requirement?
  5. When entering an intersection marked with four-way stops, who has the right of way?
  6. In a traffic circle, who has right of way?
  7. When travelling at highway speeds (70+), should you yield to a bus signalling to move out from its bus stop?
  8. When is it okay to turn left on a red light?
  9. What’s the difference between a merge sign and a yield sign (in meaning, not in colour)?
  10. Can you pass a vehicle that is stopping or stopped at a crosswalk?

Now, check your answers below

  1. Yellow road lines separate traffic moving in opposite directions. You can cross a single solid yellow line if it is safe to do so. White lines separate traffic moving in the same direction. You are never allowed to cross a single solid white line. Roadsense for Riders, pages 42 and 43.
  2. School zones ar in effect on school days, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (or as posted). If you have school-aged kids, you’ll know when the school days are; if you don’t, you’re SOL. Roadsense for Riders, page 35.
  3. Playground speed limits are in effect from “dawn to dusk”, seven days a week. Roadsense for Riders, page 35.
  4. White signs, for goodness sakes, are regulatory. This means mandatory. The signs might be phrased as gentle reminders, but if the police ever truly wanted to fundraise, I suggest they start here. According to B.C.’s Motor vehicle Act (MVA section 158) “the driver of a vehicle must not cause or permit the vehicle to overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle.”
  5. At four-way stops, should two vehicles enter at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way; otherwise, it’s first in, first out. When in doubt, yield to the vehicle on your right. Right-of-way is given. If you give it, and someone passes it back to you, stop the infernal Canadian kindness and just take it. When you get into the dance of “You go ahead,” “No, you go,” accidents happen. Roadsense for Riders page 50.
  6. Whoever is in an intersection, owns it. In a traffic circle, vehicles inside the traffic circle have the right of way. In other words, when entering one, you must yield to the vehicle on your left. ICBC persists in stating that you must give right of way to the vehicle on your right (Roadsense for Riders, page 50) but, really, they are moving away from you. So “giving” them right of way is really a moot point. It’s the vehicle on your left, the one already in the traffic circle coming at you, to which you must yield.
  7. You are required to yield to a city bus on any road where the speed limit is 60 km/h or less. On the highway, a bus is not allowed to pull out from a bus stop if it is not safe to do so. See MVA 169.1.
  8. It is OK to turn left on a red light when you are turning onto a one-way road, provided you’ve yielded to all moving vehicles and pedestrians. See MVA Section 129(4b). Or, if you really insist on understanding what you read, see ICBC’s Roadsense for Riders, page 41. Look for the words under the red stop light image in the book. No, I’m not being facetious. Most of us think we know everything and never bother to read the words under the stop sign.
  9. At a yield sign, the rider must slow down for oncoming traffic, and stop if necessary. If a vehicle at the yield sign has complied and is now entering the intersection, the riders on the road being entered are expected to allow the vehicle to enter (MVA 175 (2)). At a merge sign, the rider is expected to speed up and merge with traffic. Riders on the road being entered are expected to allow merging vehicles to, um, merge.
  10. You can never ever pass a vehicle that is slowing down or stopped at a crosswalk. MVA 179 (3). Assume they have stopped for a reason. Pull in beside them, come to a complete stop, and proceed only if you determine that your lane of travel is clear.

If you’re unfamiliar with some or most of these, you really need to brush up on your knowledge. ICBC has some really good resources online, including the one mentioned here, Roadsense for Riders. Check it out. They’re free.

And pass this along to your friends, riding and driving alike.

– Britt Santowski

Britt Santowski is a former chief instructor with the Vancouver Island Safety Council, where she trained instructors and taught riders for almost a decade. Santowski is also a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, speaker, consultant and author.


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3 Responses to “What’s your road savvy like?”

  1. on 11 Feb 2011 at 4:59 pmTM

    Response received by email



    I read your article today in the Times Colonist. I have found your articles in the past to be informative and fairly accurate.

    I do not agree with the comments you made in your answer to question #4 where you state “…if the Police ever truly want to fund raise, I suggest they start here”. Police Officers do not fund raise by writing tickets in Canada, this isn’t the States. This kind of comment from a Professional Motorcycle Safety Instructor is not warranted nor should it be made in an article about rules of the road.

    In this question regarding the Keep Right and Slower Traffic keep right signs, #4, you quote in your answer Sec 158 MVA. This section,158(1) does indicate the wording you quoted but left at that it gives the impression that it is not legal to pass a vehicle on the right on a laned roadway (More than one lane in the same direction) but this section spells out in (a), (b) and (c) the exceptions.

    (a) Allows a vehicle to pass another vehicle on the right if it is making a left turn and sub-section 2 (a) & (b) qualify that further when made in safety and not off the roadway. Case Law in this Province has established that the shoulder is not considered to be part of the roadway. So if a vehicle passes another on the right and goes off the roadway, ie; on the shoulder, this is an offence.

    Sub-section (b) allows a vehicle to pass another vehicle on the right when on a laned roadway and (c) refers to one way streets or highways allowing the same.

    I hope this helps to clarify Sec 158 for you.


  2. on 11 Feb 2011 at 5:00 pmBritt


    Thanks for the clarification. With a 700 word limitation (that I already often exceed) it’s hard to get the nuances in. The comment about police looking to fundraise was done tongue-in-cheek. You’re absolutely right in differentiating our force from our neighbours below.

    Also, I’d like to add that I am a former Professional Motorcycle Safety Instructor (and a former Chief at that); currently, I’m merely an author, a writer and a mom with a penchant for riding motorcycles and a passion for safety. The column was motivated by the alarming increase in motorcycle-related accidents and deaths, and it’s my small attempt to impact some people’s riding habits in this big world.

    Thanks for reading the column, and keeping me on the straight-and-narrow!

    All the best,

  3. on 11 Feb 2011 at 5:02 pmT

    Response to my response, received by email


    I agree entirely with your attempting to impact people’s riding habits. There have been a number of fatal and serious crashes involving motorcycles on the Island this year. In the majority of the crashes, the motorcycle operator was not at fault as the vehicles had made turns in front of them. None of the fatalities involved VI HOG or Blue Knight members, although several of them have been involved in crashes and in all of them I am only aware of one where the M/C operator was at fault, that being a rear ender.

    [identifiers removed] I have been riding since I was 11 and legally on the roads in Alberta when I turned 14. So I’ve been riding for 49 years now.

    I took the course this past spring and even though I considered my self to be a good rider, I learned some new things and also reinforced those I knew but wasn’t necessarily practicing. I’ve ridden 32,000K in the last 2 years on my 2009 Harley Ultra Classic, and when I retire completely, hope to put on a lot more.

    If you do come up with the answer as to why there have been more serious crashes, I look forward to hearing about it. It seems to me that the majority of riders are not taking motorcycle training, but I do think the graduated license system for motorcycles is much better than it used to be. My initial test for my motorcycle license was a ride around the MVB in Edmonton on my Mo-Ped with a driver trainer following in a car. I’ve heard rumors about it being made mandatory to take a training course, perhaps this will help. I think a lot of the problem is that vehicle drivers just do not register a motorcycle as being there when they look, a fact I can attest to after years of riding a police motorcycle with lights and siren, bright safety jackets and still being cut off and not being seen.

    Take care and keep writing, there are riders out here reading. If I can help with any legal questions or applications of the MVA and MVA Regs please feel free to contact me, I still have serving members contacting me to get my opinion on problems they encounter and where to look for legislation etc. to deal with it.

    Take Care


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