#DriveSmartBC – The Lowly Licence Plate

The licence plate has one purpose: to quickly and easily identify the vehicle that it is attached to. This is important enough that a whole division of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations is devoted to the subject. Fines for failing to follow these rules may be expensive as well, ranging from $109 to as much as $196.

The standard blue on white Beautiful British Columbia licence plate design does the job well. It is immediately identifiable as belonging to our province and the renewal decal system gives it a long life. Simple, inexpensive and effective. What could possibly go wrong?

Vehicles may be issued either one or two licence plates. If two are issued, one must be securely fastened to the front and one to the rear of that vehicle. In the case of a single plate, it goes on the rear of the vehicle.

The characters are required to be displayed horizontally and the plate must always be entirely unobstructed so that they can be read.

During darkness, the rear licence plate must be lit with a white light to make the characters visible from a distance of at least 15 metres.

Transfer from one vehicle to another is strictly regulated as well.

Some people are lazy. They don’t attach the front plate or just throw it on the dash. Plates are left completely covered by dirt or snow. One loosely attached fastener allowing the plate to dangle should be enough.

What seems like a good idea is not. Plastic licence plate covers, clear or tinted, can prevent a plate from being read in some circumstances and must not be installed.

Other people are dishonest. Number plates are moved to their vehicle of convenience without doing a proper transfer. Plates are covered or purposely obstructed in some manner to thwart tolls and enforcement.

Even our provincial government has lost sight of the intent. Designs such as personalized, veterans, Olympic and B.C. Parks make it more difficult to read the characters and determine where they are from.

Oddly enough, failing to display any licence plates at all is a $109 ticket while obstructing a plate that is displayed costs $196.

Yes, the lowly licence plate has an important job to do. There is not logical or legal to make that difficult.

 

#DriveSmartBC: Roadside Mechanical Inspections

DriveSmartBC

Many people think of traffic policing consists mostly of handing out speeding tickets. This is not the case as there are many other job functions that officers are responsible for. One that I often found to be an interesting challenge was conducting roadside mechanical inspections.

Inspections were frequently triggered by seeing something amiss after stopping a driver for a traffic rule violation, but occasionally police will set up a check stop dedicated to mechanical inspection. Triage will be conducted by a point person on the highway and suspect vehicles will be directed to the roadside for more thorough examinations.

In either case, the authority to conduct these inspections comes from the Motor Vehicle Act:

219 (2) A peace officer

(a) may require a person who carries on the business of renting vehicles or who is the owner or person in charge of a vehicle

(i) to allow the peace officer to inspect a vehicle offered by the person for rental or owned by or in charge of the person, or

(ii) to move a vehicle described in subparagraph (i) to a place designated by the peace officer and to allow the vehicle to be inspected there by the peace officer, or, at the expense of the person required, to present the vehicle for inspection by a person authorized under section 217, and

A systematic check of the vehicle is done and defects, if any, are identified.

The enforcement action taken depends on the severity of the defect. I often chose to be guided by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Out of Service Criteria set for North American commercial vehicles. If it was fair to take a commercial truck off the road, it was fair to apply the same standard to light vehicles as well.

The most severe defects are dealt with by issuing a #1 Notice & Order, seizing vehicle licence plates and registration and calling a tow truck. Examples of common problems that triggered this action include brake system failure, excessive steering linkage wear, frame corrosion or unsafe vehicle modifications.

A #2 Notice & Order was used when significant defects or a general pattern of neglect was uncovered. While concerning, the defects were not significant enough to justify the vehicle’s immediate removal from the highway. The order gives the vehicles’ owner 30 days to correct problems.

Both of these inspection orders require that the vehicle be taken to a Designated Inspection Facility, undergo a complete inspection and be repaired to the point that a pass could be issued.

Designated Inspection Facilities use the Vehicle Inspection Manual as the standard for repair. While exempt from publication, you may be able to read this manual for free at your local public library.

For minor items, a #3 Notice & Order is issued. The driver or vehicle owner is asked to make the listed repair and present the vehicle to show that the repair has been made.

Ignoring these orders could result in significant consequences that include heavy fines and tow trucks.

Reference Link:

#DriveSmartBC

 

How to Handle Being Pulled Over

It is possible that a careful driver could pass their entire driving career without being pulled over by the police. It’s a situation that is not covered in our provincial drivers manual Learn to Drive Smart and may only receive a brief mention during formal driver training.

My parents were responsible for my driver training and Dad’s instructions were simply that if I was stopped by the police it was “Yes sir, no sir, what can I do for you sir?” and if he heard otherwise he would deal with me when I got home. Having spent 25 years in policing, I can say that wasn’t bad advice.

The whole process starts when you see the police vehicle’s flashing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Depending on the officer and the situation, you may or may not also hear a siren.

If the officer chooses to use only the emergency lights, the Motor Vehicle Act requires:

the driver of a motor vehicle, when signalled or requested to stop by a peace officer who is readily identifiable as a peace officer, must immediately come to a safe stop.

The requirement to come to an immediate safe stop gives the driver a little bit of leeway to choose an appropriate place to pull over.

Turn on your right signal light to acknowledge the officer’s request, find the nearest safe spot to pull out of traffic and stop.

If the officer chooses to use emergency lights and the siren, the Motor Vehicle Act requires:

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right of way, and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed.

In this case there is no choice, brake safely, move to the side and stop right away.

Aside from domestic disputes, traffic stops are among the most dangerous situations for police. A wise driver will choose to be non-threatening:

  • Turn on your interior lights if it is dark.
  • Sit still and caution your passengers to do the same.
  • Keep your hands still and visible.
  • Follow the officer’s instructions.
  • Be polite.
  • State your position but don’t argue.

It’s possible that the officer has a warning in mind and many people can successfully talk their way into a ticket at this point.

Conversation during the stop is up to you. All that the law requires is that you state your name and address and the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle. However, some discussion may smooth the way without being incriminating.

If you do receive a traffic ticket, I have some advice on how to handle it as well.

Once the officer has finished, you are free to continue on your way. Make a safe start and rejoin traffic.

Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.


Holiday Origins

The holiday season is filled with many traditions and celebrations . . .

The origin of Christmas begins with a miraculous birth in the little town of Bethlehem.  Though the actual date remains an historical mystery, it is celebrated on December 25 thanks to a 4th century pope.

In 350 AD, with Rome slowly converting to Christianity from Paganism, Pope Julius I, declared December 25 the official date of Jesus’ birth. The date was cleverly chosen to coincide with pagan festivals of the winter solstice.

Some pagans, for example, celebrated Yule – a dedication to the Sun God Mithras. Yule, means “wheel” – a pagan symbol for the sun. Today, the word Yule, relates to Christmas, or the Christmas season.

Christmas trees are also rooted in pagan tradition. During the harsh winter live evergreen trees were brought into the home as a reminder that the crops would soon grow again.

Those of the Jewish Faith celebrate Hanukkah during this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is an 8 day ritual commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jew’s victory over the Syrians in 165 BC.  In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah means ‘dedication’.

Kwanzaa,  a holiday created in 1966 by Doctor Karenga, a Professor at the California State University, is celebrated by millions of people every year from December 26 to January 1. This non-religious holiday encourages African Americans to remember and embrace their African heritage.

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in present day Turkey. Known as a kind and generous man dedicated to the welfare of children, his legend grew to mythical proportions after his death. In Holland, he became known as Sinterklass. Every December 5th, Dutch children leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklass fills them with treats. In the 17th century, Dutch immigrants to Amercia brought a variation of the tradition with them and he became known as Santa Claus.

Boxing day, celebrated on December 26, is a holiday only in the Commonwealth Countries. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages when gifts or “Christmas boxes”, were given to less fortunate members of society.

Whatever your beliefs, and however you decide to celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe holiday.

#DriveSmartBC – Building Trust, Driving Confidence

ICBC’s current corporate slogan is “Building Trust, Driving Confidence.” Pair that with this week’s announcement of a $582 million loss for the first six months of the corporation’s fiscal year and one begins to wonder about the confidence part. That loss is being blamed on the rising number and cost of claims.

Laying the blame there is probably the easiest thing to do and the least likely to require a lot of explanation.

ICBC rates are set by the BC Utilities Commission, which is ultimately controlled by the provincial government. That’s the same government that took dividends out of ICBC coffers that could have been invested by the corporation and the profits used to pay insurance claims.

Our provincial government also controls many other facets of this issue. Driver licensing, policing, traffic laws, highway design and maintenance to name a few.

So, who’s in the driver’s seat and where are they taking us? Are we happy with the direction of travel?

There are three ways to reduce this deficit, take in more money, reduce costs and quit running into each other or other things.

No one wants to pay more for their vehicle insurance. This is a relatively immediate consequence and one that we feel acutely. It’s easy to complain about as it’s visible to us all regularly.

Let’s make the high risk driver pay a high risk premium. Ditto for those who actually cause a crash. They should pay more too. Good drivers should pay the smallest premium.

Recently, reducing costs has come in the form of paying less for claims. This is a little more palatable because we’re all better than average drivers and perhaps this isn’t seen as something that will directly affect us. Someone else will pay the price regardless of whether they are the culprit or the victim.

Finally we come to a very complicated problem, how to reduce or eliminate collisions. Vision Zero. The most certain way to reduce insurance rates.

People make mistakes. Despite our best intentions bad things can happen and this is why we buy insurance.

The reduction of these mistakes and the minimization of the consequences of those that do happen will be a long process. Safe highways, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe users all combine to produce the safe systems of Vision Zero.

I can make a difference immediately if I try. I realize that driving is a team effort, not an individual one. I won’t be selfish and I’ll share the road. I will even try to put others first if there is a need to.

Will you?

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

The ILScorp offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 12. Take the time this Remembrance Day to remember and honour those who have, and who continue to, make sacrifices for our country.

We’ll be back Tuesday morning, ready to take your calls, answer your questions and register you for online insurance programs. You can reach us from 8 a.m. – 5  p.m. Pacific Time. You can also register for our insurance training programs online, anytime, at ILScorp.com

And for subscribers to the ILSTV insurance industry newsletter, your daily dose of Canadian insurance news returns to your inbox on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

This November 11, please take a moment to remember all those who have fallen.

#LestWeForget

 

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