#RoadSafety – But I Didn’t Know!

I often prowl through driving forums on the internet searching for interesting topics of discussion. The following quote came from a site in Kelowna:

Sadly, not everyone knows the rules of the road and/or how to operate their motor vehicle correctly. Pressing the pedals and basic coordination is about as far as some people get.

We live in an age of readily accessible information if we have an internet connection and a bit of curiosity. The Motor Vehicle Act and Regulations are our official rule books. Learn to Drive Smart and Tuning Up For Drivers are the starter guides for those of us who are starting our driving careers. TranBC is a blog that carries driving tips and news from the B.C. Government.

The YouTube channel for Smart Drive Test delivers free driving lessons tailored specifically for B.C. Drivers.

Organizations such as the B.C.A.A. and SafetyDriven promote road safety on their web sites.

This site, Achieving Justice and the B.C. Driving Blog are good resources created by road safety advocates on their own.

I cannot think of a recent change to our provincial driving environment that has not been reported by traditional media or social media. While the coverage may not be detailed or in the case of some social media posts totally accurate, at least one should have an idea that there might have been a change that affects you.

Shrugging your shoulders and saying to yourself that you either already know enough or will learn about it later on if you need to can be expensive.

The instance that brought this to mind was an inquiry from an Ontario visitor to our province. She had her cell phone in her lap and looked down to study the GPS map while she was in bumper to bumper traffic on the way to the airport. When she looked up again she noticed flashing lights in her blind spot and received a ticket for distracted driving.

Her question to me concerned how she might successfully fight this ticket.

This might be difficult to accomplish as the rules in Ontario parallel those here in B.C. was my first response.

Well, I didn’t know that and it’s almost impossible to know all the rules of the road she said. If the cell phone is supposed to be secured in a holder, shouldn’t the car rental company provide one?

The head in the sand approach to learning will probably cost this lady at least the price of the ticket which is currently $368. If she intends to dispute the ticket she will either have to come back to B.C. to conduct her defence or hire a lawyer to act on her behalf. Chances are very good that retaining counsel will be at least double the cost of the ticket itself with no guarantee of having the charge dismissed.

As with many other things in our life, we need to take possession of the issue and make sure that we have the proper knowledge and skills to be successful at what we undertake to do. Making mistakes while driving has outcomes that range from damaging our bank account to damaging ourselves, our loved ones or the lives of other road users.

#RoadSafety: Convenience vs Catastrophe

Some incidents encountered during a career in policing stick with you for life and sometimes resurface later on as lessons learned. This memory involved a mother dropping her young son off for a birthday party by pulling over and stopping on the right side of the street. He exited the car and excited to join the festivities, ran to the back and darted across the street. He was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.

I was sent to the hospital at the beginning of the investigation to check on the mother and child because we did not know of the child’s condition at the time. I knew the woman personally because her older son was in the Cub Pack I volunteered with as a leader. Her anguish was terrible to see and I have no doubt that she will spend the rest of her life wishing that she had taken the extra time to pull into the driveway and let her son out of the car on safe ground.

One of my co-workers dealt with the driver of the vehicle that struck the boy so I did not get to see him. Do you think that he will ever forget that day? How many times will he go over the incident in his mind and try to see what he could have done to produce a different outcome?

All of this flashed through my mind when I followed behind a pickup truck one morning last week. Children wait for the school bus on the side of the street near my home. There were already children and adults waiting ahead on my right.

The pickup moved over into the oncoming lane and stopped across from the group. Instant deja vu.

I slowed immediately and proceeded at a walking pace between the group and the pickup, watching both sides for movement across the road. No one crossed and I was able to pass by safely.

What was going on in the mind of the pickup driver? Why not pull over to the right side of the street and stop? The vehicle had no businesess being on the wrong side of the road. In addition, the stop must be made with the vehicle at the right hand edge of the roadway.

All the driver had really done was managed to add more confusion to the situation.

In retrospect, despite what I had remembered from my past, the confusion here extended to me as well.

I had a duty not to collide with a pedestrian, especially a child, and in this situation had already inferred the possibility of one being present.

In general, you are required to pass by an overtaken vehicle on the left. There is an exception to this rule when there is an unobstructed lane on the right, as there was here. However, that pass on the right can only be done if it is safe to do. Both the pickup on the wrong side of the road and the possibility of a child getting out of it to wait for the school bus made the circumstances unsafe.

I should have stopped and stayed stopped until the situation resolved itself. Moving into a position of possible conflict regardless of how slow I was going was a poor choice.

Sometimes we can make all manner of errors when we drive and it still turns out all right in the end. However, don’t let those errors become the default setting.

Five Habits of a Highly Professional Home Reno Contractor

Shoddy workmanship. AWOL contractors. Sub-par construction materials. Improper insulation. Mould. Sewage leaks. Everyone has heard the horror stories of home renovations gone wrong.

According to Guy Solomon, president of Penguin Basements and a spokesperson for national renovation source RenoMark™, it doesn’t have to be that way. In addition to dispensing renovation advice and solutions at the National Home Show in Toronto (March 10-19), Mr. Solomon will deliver a seminar entitled 5 steps to a successful renovation. “Every homeowner deserves to know what their project will cost and entail and to have insight into how the nature of the renovation will impact the value of their home. A successful renovation starts well before construction begins,” he says.

Advising on lifestyle, financial and logistical factors to consider when contemplating a reno, Mr. Solomon also offers an informed perspective on what consumers should look for in a successful contractor:

A  business licence, liability insurance and WSIB insurance.  All professional renovators should carry these qualifications, especially now that cities and municipalities are in the process of requiring renovators to be licensed.

A written contract. A true renovation professional will provide a proper contract that spells out project scope (and a process for authorizing and communicating any amendments), defines roles and reporting structure, specifies construction materials and provides a complete timeline, clear payment schedule, and a detailed explanation of what’s under warranty and for how long. “Without a contract, you’ll have no legal recourse if the work is substandard,” warns Mr. Solomon.

An understanding of required permits and a willingness to help you acquire them.  A professional contractor will be up-to-date on provincial building codes and the municipal requirements of your area. They should be ready to work with you on creating and submitting a detailed application that includes a set of plans, drawings and other documents.

An affiliation with a professional homebuilder’s organization. While neighbours and friends can be an excellent source of recommendations, cross-referencing the names of prospective contractors and renovators with an industry association like BILD (which offers a searchable database of members) is an additional  indicator of professionalism and ethical conduct.

Experience with projects similar to yours. Always ask for (and check!) references. Reluctance or refusal to provide at least two referrals may be a sign you’re not working with a professional. And no homeowner deserves that.

Guy Solomon speaks at the National Home Show on Tuesday March 14 @ 12pm. Visit Guy and Penguin Basements at Booth 4420.

About Penguin Basements
Penguin Basements is Canada’s leading basement renovation contractor and creator of The Second Suite Solution, a wealth-building strategy designed to help homeowners unlock the value beneath their feet and turn their basement into income.

www.basementscanada.com
@penguinbasement

SOURCE Penguin Basements

#eyesfwdbc – Distracted Driving Month in B.C.

#eyesfwdbc – Distracted Driving Month in B.C.

Hey you! Yeah, YOU, put the phone down and pay attention to where you’re driving! In 2015 police wrote over 44,000 traffic tickets for distracted driving violations in B.C. ICBC tells us that about 30% of crashes in B.C. involve driving while distracted. Recent changes to the distracted driving legislation saw fines change from $196 to $348 + $175 from 4 penalty points yet look around you in traffic and see how many drivers you can find with an electronic device in hand.

The last time that ICBC commissioned a poll on distracted driving almost everyone agreed that texting while driving was dangerous, but 40% of drivers with cell phones had used it while driving in the preceding six months.

There is no good time to drive while using an electronic device, but this month could be even more risky for those who can’t leave the phone alone. A press release from ICBC this week advises that:

ICBC, police and volunteers have worked together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province with over 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside this month. The aim is to give drivers the clear message that if they drive while distracted, they’re even more likely to be caught.

So, if we know that this is not a good idea, why do some of us do it? Perhaps we could ask the same question of impaired drivers, speeders or those who don’t stop at stop signs. I suspect that it’s a combination of putting one’s perceived needs ahead of everyone else, our rationalization that we’re good drivers so we can do this safely or we don’t think that there is much chance of being caught.

There is even talk of cell phone use being an addiction that creates a compulsion to use it regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time.

We should be very concerned that the age group most likely to ignore the rules surrounding electronics and distraction are the younger drivers. They neither have the skills nor the experience of an accomplished driver yet they willingly take on the risk of divided attention while driving.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation has published a National Action Plan on Distracted Driving for Canada. While education, enforcement and legislation are in place, co-ordination among stakeholders is missing. Hopefully the formation of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving will facilitate co-ordination going forward.

Ultimately, the solution to the problem comes down to the individual, that is me and you. Together we can do things like shutting off our phone when we get into the vehicle, install an app like OneTap that silences notifications while driving, refusing to talk or text with friends and familiy while they drive, pull over and park to text or make a call. Got the message?

Reference Links:

#RoadSafety: Know Before You Go

The beginning of this month was not a good one for many road users in the province with the weather related closure of 3 major east – west highway routes. Road maintenance contractors generally maintain our roads in good condition for safe driving, but when weather overwhelms their resources it should not be a surprise when road closures are the result. If you choose to travel during major weather events your mantra should be Know Before You Go or perhaps even simply Don’t Go.

One news report that I saw found a television reporter interviewing eastbound motorists who were stuck in a closure waiting for the Coquihalla Highway to reopen. The reporter asked one person if they had sufficient notice of the situation. There was a short pause and then a shake of the head. No, “they” could have done a better job was the response. Another related that they were keeping hunger at bay by eating chips and cookies.

This significant weather event should not have been a surprise to anyone. It was not the first storm in recent days and was warned about by every weather report I saw in the days prior to it. DriveBC had a travel warning posted on their web site. Social media was full of stories.

I wonder what the overhead variable message sign had to say for points east of Hope, but I’m guessing that it was not encouraging everyone with a report of good winter driving conditions.

Having chosen to continue the voyage after some consideration, the first responsibility for your health and safety falls to you. Proper winter clothing, food, water, sleeping bags or blankets, flashlights, candles and matches are a few personal supplies to have along. True winter tires, a shovel, tow rope, triangles, flares and some spares would be good choices to add to your vehicle.

Stopping in Hope to top up the fuel tank would have been a good choice to make too, especially if you don’t follow the precautionary habit of operating on the top half of the tank.

Regardless of your state of preparation, continued assessment of conditions is mandatory. If you anticipate problems then that is the time to either turn around and head for home or at least find the nearest motel to wait for improvement. Being warm and dry with a full stomach beats sitting on the highway idling your fuel away wondering what will happen.

In a major weather event like this one, “they” are overwhelmed trying to do their jobs to keep you moving or get you moving again. “They” don’t have the time or the resources to hold your hand and make sure that you are all right. If you need it, rescue could be a long time coming. First and foremost, it’s all up to you.

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