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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Nissan Skyline in Limbo

Northern News ServiceSOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - When Martin Rohac purchased his 1992 Nissan Skyline from Japan he was pleased with the idea that he would be among only a few people in the territory who owns one.

Right-hand drive vehicles are the norm in countries like Great Britain, India and Japan where the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the vehicles and drivers drive on the left lane of the road. In North America and mainland Europe, it's the opposite.

It's believed there are five right-hand drive vehicles in Yellowknife and fewer than 10 for the whole of the NWT.

But when Rohac attempted to license his car with the motor vehicle licensing branch in Yellowknife he was told it was "unsafe" and that he had a 40 per cent higher chance of getting into an accident. Rohac, aware of the other right-hand drive vehicles in Yellowknife, was floored.

"I've seen one down the street from my parent's house, one in the Niven (area), one always parked by Crazy Eddie's (on Old Airport Road) and another two driving around," he said. Rohac said motor vehicles staff told him those vehicles "slipped through the cracks."

That's because until recently the Department of Transportation didn't have a process for screening right-hand drive cars and trucks, said Al Kaylo, the registrar of motor vehicles.

Right-hand drive vehicles are a fairly new phenomenon here, he added, noting that he had just begun to see them in Yellowknife this spring, after which he immediately moved to get a policy in place.

He said he's concerned about 10 or 12 safety points, ranging from headlights - RHD vehicles' lights point in the wrong direction - to the ability to change lanes safely.

This means Rohac's vehicle was one of the first to get "caught."

Frustrated, Rohac introduced himself to Jeff Corradetti, founder of the Northwest Territories Automobile Council (NTAC). Corradetti took up the issue with verve, writing letters to and lobbying cabinet ministers, MLAs and the Department of Transportation.

What irks both men is the idea that Transportation currently has no policy in place concerning right-hand vehicles, although it is in the process of creating one.

"If a regulation is coming out in future, why is it our problem (now)?" asked Corradetti.

"We're following your regulation to the letter of law today."

It may not be the letter of law for long, however. Kaylo said once the policy is completed - likely mid-August - all right-hand drive vehicle owners will be expected to come in and ensure their vehicles comply.

He said he isn't sure what the new policy will contain just yet but said right-hand drive vehicles will be subject to more stringent safety rules.

This includes the vehicles Rohac has seen driving around the city, ones Kaylo said were not indicated as right-hand drive when they were licensed, although the city, like Rohac, is now aware of them.

It also includes one car which was given an exemption by Kaylo because it was processed through B.C.'s vehicle licensing system. Kaylo said many right-hand drive vehicles are imported into Canada through B.C.

The province is also one of several others the department is currently looking to for examples of how to handle the licensing of right-hand drive vehicles.

Kaylo said Rohac was not given an emphatic "no," but was instead asked to wait until a policy is in place. Rohac said, however, that he's been waiting long enough.

To support this point, Rohac and Corradetti both nod to the exemption provided under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act at the federal level. Under the exemption, introduced into the act in 1986, vehicles that were made 15 years or more before their importation into Canada are not subject to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

The exemption was intended to allow for the limited importation of older vehicles used by hobbyists and collectors - at the time not deemed to pose much of a threat to road users.

This too could soon change if regulators have their way. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, which Kaylo belongs to, has asked Transport Canada to change the 15-year rule to bring it in line with the U.S.'s 25-year threshold.

While Rohac's 1992 baby meets the exemption rules, Kaylo is quick to add that the rules only cover importation of the vehicle. To get it, licensed car owners must comply with territorial or provincial rules - still a month in the making in the NWT.

Kaylo said it didn't look like the NWT owners of right-handed drive vehicles did much in the way of investigating the rules before bringing them in.

"Nobody checked any of the rules, they just bought the vehicle and assumed the world was there for them," said Kaylo.


Unknown said...

Kaylo sounds like an ass with too much time on his hands and a fear of things that appear different...OMG the steering wheel's on the wrong side, something needs to be done about this!!!

"He said he's concerned about 10 or 12 safety points, ranging from headlights - RHD vehicles' lights point in the wrong direction - to the ability to change lanes safely."

1)get out a damn screw driver and in a couple seconds your headlights are pointing 2 degrees to the other side, headlights are adjustable dumb ass!
2)Last time I checked I change lanes on the highway to the LEFT & the RIGHT side with no problem despite having a steering wheel on the left hand side of my vehicle, whats the difference if it's on the right?!?

I bet if this guy was rich and he wanted a European sports car imported over, he'd not be scrutinizing the cars Right handedness and CREATING potential hazardous scenarios.


yUP. I was looking at an rx7 though terra2imports. this is really dumb. I can't beleive they think they have some kind of divine right over whatever vehicle someone chooses to drive. Escallades are more dangerous than imports. And i bet dude drives and F-150. equally retarded. Might as well buy a tank


The problem with overtaking in a vehicle with the steering wheel on the opposite side to the norm of the country is that you often have to get 75% of the vehicle into the overtaking lane before the driver can see if it's safe to overtake ... and by then it's often too late.

There is also a similar problem pulling out from a parallel parking space.

We have the same problem here in Australia with LEFT-hand drive vehicles.

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