Here are 10 myths of the Highway Traffic Act – or 10 traffic actions that seem illegal but actually aren’t. Were you aware of these?
1. No daytime running lights. These are not required by the Highway Traffic Act. In darkness, motor vehicles must have two low-beam headlights activated (except motorcycles, which require one headlight on at all times).
2. Driving in sandals or barefoot. The HTA makes no stipulations as to footwear. If removing shoes before driving (never during), store outside of driver’s foot well. Otherwise, these could become lodged around/under the pedals and affect control of the vehicle.
3. One taillight out. For safety, you should maintain all lights, but you’re legal if at least one red taillight is working at nighttime or in darkness.
4. Broken signal light. This is not, in itself, an offence. The HTA charge is fail to signal turn/lane change. If your signal lights fail, but you use proper arm signals when needed out the window, you have complied with the law.
5. Fail to remain at collision scene. Normally an arrestable offence, but the law allows that you may leave the scene if absolutely necessary to call police (e.g. no cell phone and no other traffic around) – provided you return immediately afterward.
6. Changing lanes within an intersection. Not specifically prohibited by the HTA, but if a crash occurs, charges of unsafe lane change or careless driving may apply. If a “stay in lane” sign is posted (around bridges and tunnels), violators could be charged with disobey sign.
7. Going around a stopped transit bus. Not prohibited – provided it’s done in safety. All normal signal and lane change regulations apply. If a collision occurs, one or both drivers might be charged.
8. Jaywalking. At intersections, pedestrians must obey signs and traffic lights, and cross inside the crosswalk, if marked. Though risky, crossing mid-block (“jaywalking”) isn’t prohibited under the HTA, but a municipal by-law may apply.
9. Sideways-mounted number plate. This is actually allowed under the law and is often seen on motorcycles. Number plates must be illuminated at night.
10. Not stopping immediately upon hearing a siren. Drivers are required to pull to the nearest curb and stop, clear of any intersection, upon the approach of an emergency vehicle with lights/siren activated. The key, however, is not to impede the emergency vehicle, so drivers shouldn’t just freeze mindlessly in place when they hear a siren. For example, if an ambulance is trapped behind multiple lanes of stopped cars, those in the passing lane should move forward, if safe to do so, until they can pull right and stop – thereby clearing a lane for the ambulance.
Information above is of a general nature only, may not apply in all instances, and should not be taken as legal advice or opinion.
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