Canadians and left-turn lanes

A certain road I use at least twice a day has a left-turn lane to allow people to enter a gas station/mini-mart/Subway/Domino’s without impeding through traffic. I see an inordinate number of BC license plates on cars that don’t use the left turn lane. Either the driver makes the left turn from the through-traffic lane (if the coast is clear), or else stops in the through-traffic lane to let oncoming traffic to pass.

Why do so many Canadian drivers have an aversion to the left-turn lane? After all, that’s what it’s there for!

Canadians are wonderful people, but unless things have changed A LOT since I lived up there, they simply cannot drive. When I lived in & near Bellingham, it was always better to stay out of town on the weekends when our northern neighbors came down because they didn’t seem to understand one way streets, would make right turns from the left lane and vice versa, and would have picnics in the freeway median. Which made for some horrific accidents as you can imagine.

Maybe some of the Canadian Dopers will let us know what the issue is - no drivers ed?

Of course we have left-turn lanes, one-way streets, and drivers ed in Canada.

I suspect that what you’re seeing is the sort of careless/clueless driving common to all tourists coupled with a hearty dose of confirmation bias. Every place I’ve ever lived has had a neighbouring state/province absolutely famous for it’s terrible drivers, and yet when you go to that state/province they will all swear that no, it’s some other place that actually has the bad drivers. Around here people frequently bemoan the awful driving habits of Americans, particularly those from New York State. I’m inclined to think it’s a matter of said Americans being unfamiliar with our street layout, unsure of exactly what route they want to go on, and distracted by maps/screaming kids/annoying relatives in the car/etc., since I find it unlikely that a whole group of people would uniformly lack the skills needed for driving.

Of course it’s possible that Canadians really do avoid left turn lanes when in the US, but it seems unlikely seeing as they’re perfectly common here. It’s also possible that they are laid out slightly differently there and there is some confusion. But it might just be that tourists are more likely to make minor errors and you’re more likely to notice and take note if that tourist has a Canadian license plate. Of course some people are morons who shouldn’t be allowed to drive anywhere, but they can come from anywhere, IMHO.

When I lived in the GTA, I thought that most Canadians were pretty good drivers. At least as good as any Michigander. And although they were a lot more rare than in Michigan, shared left-turn-lanes definitely were present.

Shared left turn lanes are all over the place here. A bit less common in the city of Toronto itself, but ubiquitous in Mississauga or Pickering or whatnot.

To the OP: if you really want to see Canadians lose the ability to drive, you should see the new roundabout in Mississauga, Ontario. I’ve seen a lot of mindbogglingly stupid things there in the past few weeks.

It was actually Mississauga where I lived. Of course I mean shared left turn lanes, although I’m not sure of the correct word. In Mississauga, for example, the main streets were typically divided in some manner, such as with a concrete barrier. Of course there were dedicated left turn lanes at each intersection and in front of shopping centers, but they’re only for the flow of traffic in one direction. In general there were very few undivided roads with a left turn lane for use by traffic going in either direction, e.g., two lanes NB, two lanes SB, fifth lane in the middle that both SB and NB could use to make their respective left turns.

In Mississauga/Oakville, roads predominately were divided, whereas in SE Michigan, roads predominately are undivided (except major arteries with Michigan lefts).

Ah, my mistake. I take back what I said. Those would confuse the hell out of me too :slight_smile:

Around here, we call it the “suicide lane”.

A better response could not be written.

I’d considered that, only I see the driver diving in from the through-traffic lane or stopping there instead of using the left-turn lane first, and then take note of the license plate.

I also considered ‘tourists’. It seems like half of the houses around here are owned by Canadians, and this has long been a popular place for Canadians and others to get away for a weekend. I’d suspect that people coming here would be familiar with the roads. But now that I think of it, this is the second exit from the border that has a gas station. It might be that the drivers I’m seeing are not people who come here to kick back, but instead are ones who are avoiding the higher-priced gas at the first station across the border. No reason to not use the left-turn lane, but it may be a contributing factor.

Another observation: Canadian drivers tend to drive too slow or very fast. Local drivers tend to drive under the speed limit. Seriously, for a long time I noticed locals tended to drive 5 mph under the limit, no matter what the the posted limit is. I lived in dread of coming upon a 5 mph zone! :stuck_out_tongue: Of course coming from L.A., I think nobody knows how to drive properly up here. :wink:

So you’re getting the people who missed the first turn off, very likely. Probably not the brightest bulbs on the tree, I’m thinking.

They seem perfectly accustomed to left turn lanes here is Montreal. What we don’t have a lot of (but we have some) are middle lanes that are used for left turns in each direction.

Yes, that’s what I mean; as Toucanna posted above. I haven’t noticed people doing strange things at intersections.

I live in Toronto and the nearest main street to my house has those lanes pretty much all the way down its length. I haven’t seen anyone turn from a through lane when the option is there.

Id have to agree with confirmation bias and confused tourists.

It looks like all of our Canadians who have responded so far are in the east - Johnny L.A. is in the west. Do we have any Dopers living in B.C.?

Johnny L.A. is seeing folks mostly from Greater Vancouver is my guess. There may be some shared left turn lanes there, but I don’t know of any. There are none in Calgary. I think there are some in smaller cities like Castlegar and (maybe) Creston. I’m always a little surprised when I see one.

I’m in Alberta, specifically Calgary, and we don’t have any ‘suicide lanes’ here. Not even one. I imagine I’d make a boob of myself if I had just arrived in town and was confronted with one. In fact, I seem to recall about 10 years ago being in Bellingham and making just this mistake. Seriously, if you’ve never seen one before, they can freak you out.

Here, if there’s a left turn lane it is for only one direction of traffic and blocked off with a median. If that’s not there, then you turn directly out of the left lane, blocking traffic if there are a lot of cars heading towards you.

I totally understand why this error is being made.

Wow. Who’d have thought that driving in Western Canada would be different? I would have thought suicide lanes were standard everywhere.

My gf tells me that they do exist here in the Toronto area in a few places, but I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen one. Now that I’ve seen a picture of the setup, I hope to never encounter one. What a strange idea…


They’re all over the friggin’ place.
ETA: Well, except in Western Canada, apparently.