The Not-So-Professional Driver

I’m one of those odd drivers who tries their best to drive at or below the posted speed limit. I include the word below here as sometimes there is a need to slow down to less than the posted speed limit for safety reasons. This often has consequences for me when I have to share the road with other drivers who do not subscribe to my philosophy on road safety. A good example of this is looking in my rear view mirror and finding the Volvo logo on the grille of a heavy transport truck following me closely enough that I could count the bugs stuck to it.

This incident occurred on the Trans Canada Highway westbound between the Alberta border and Golden on a relatively long and steep downgrade while I was returning home from a family wedding in Banff. Road conditions were not the greatest as the winter damage had been done and road maintenance had not yet caught up. The shoulders were gravel covered, the lane markings were poor or non-existent and the road surface itself was uneven in places.

My preferred solution to this is to simply pull over and let the offender by. Better to inconvenience myself than to become involved in a collision. In this case, I had to wait to find a good place to do this and sweat out having that Volvo logo looming large behind me. The truck passed me before I was able to do so, but I was able to read the company name off the door of the truck cab.

If you are not content to just shrug your shoulders and mutter something about the driver’s ancestry under your breath, what can be done about incidents like this one?

Google is your friend. Most trucking firms today have a web site with contact information on it that you can use to telephone or send e-mail. A company that cares will listen to your side of the story, speak to their driver about it and take action that is fair and in their best interest. Repeated complaints about the same driver could result in dismissal.

Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) will accept complaints about commercial vehicle driving. Your complaint will be directed to the regional CVSE manager where the incident occurred. The manager has two options open to them, contacting the company and advising CVSE personnel in the region to keep the company in mind. This may have more weight than your personal complaint to the company as a clean National Safety Code record is important to a reputable trucking firm.

The police can take enforcement action based solely on your complaint if it is a credible one and likely to result in a conviction in traffic court. Take a look at the article on how to make an effective driving complaint to the police for more information. Like CVSE, the police are going to need either the licence plate information or company name on the truck itself. The licence plate information from the trailer is helpful, but much less useful for follow up.

The biggest hurdle with enforcement action is that you will be required to travel back to the jurisdiction of the incident to supply witness testimony if the ticket is disputed. The courts will not cover your travel expenses so it will be up to you to foot the bill.

Changes are on the horizon. When traffic court is replaced with adjudication by RoadSafetyBC witness information could be supplied in writing or by teleconference. Phase one of the two stage change process is currently under way and that is the implementation of electronic ticketing and fine payment. When that is completed, the shift to adjudication will occur, but there is no time line information available for that change. Enabling provisions for the system were added to the Motor Vehicle Act in 2012.

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.

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Driving penalties to go up, but at what ultimate cost?

Distracted driving penalties are increasing. Again.

And immediate roadside driving prohibitions (like those for impaired driving) might be coming.

Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving!

Would it be fair for distracted driving penalties to be as swift and severe as those for impaired driving?

Consider which behaviour is more deserving of swift and severe consequences.

Which is a clear, conscious choice?

Driving after drinking alcohol is a clear, conscious choice. Absolutely. But that’s not the offence.  The offence is doing so with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.05.

Depending on gender, weight and size, it could take as little as two or as many as five drinks over a two hour period to reach 0.05.

You might get it wrong. Adding to the problem, the consumption of any alcohol will impact on your ability to monitor that consumption!

Don’t you dare interpret me as making light of the serious problem of impaired driving, by the way.  I am simply comparing the 0.05 offence with distracted driving on the basis of conscious choice.

Neither cell phone use, nor texting can be “mistakenly” engaged in. Doing so while driving is a conscious choice.

A conscious choice to engage in an illegal driving behaviour that you know is dangerous. Doesn’t that cry out for swift and severe consequences?

Look at speeding as a comparison.

Exceeding a posted speed limit can occur absent-mindedly and results in a fine. Excessive speeding results in the immediate impoundment of your vehicle.

Do we need swift and severe consequences to curb distracted driving? Let’s look at the history of distracted driving penalties in British Columbia.

We prohibited distracted driving as of January 1, 2010, with a fine of $167.00.

A lack of effectiveness led to a change effective June 1, 2016.The fine increased from $167.00 to $368.00, along with 4 points there was a total financial hit for a first time offender of $543.00. A second offence resulted in fines and points costing up to $1,256.00.

That increase didn’t do much to change driver behaviours. According to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the number of distracted driving tickets issued between June, 2016 and June, 2017 (44,000) was a reduction of only 13 percent from the year before.

Now we have another increase coming as of March 1, 2018. No change for first time offenders, but a second offence will come with up to a whopping $1,996.00 of fines and points.

When announcing the latest change, our Attorney General was quoted as saying: “Once implemented, this change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding”.

I agree. It is a serious high-risk behaviour on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding. But no, this change does not bring the consequences up to those levels.

A first offender will still drive way with a few hundred dollars of fines and points. We need swift and severe.

READ MORE HERE about Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving! 

Source: Paul Hergott, Personal Injury Lawyer

Source: DriveSmartBC

Slow Down, Move Over, Not!

On June 1, 2009 the Slow Down, Move Over law came into effect in British Columbia. Just in case you’ve never heard of it, when you approach an official vehicle stopped on the side of the road that is displaying flashing red, blue, white or yellow lights you must slow down and, if possible, move over before you pass it.

An official vehicle is any vehicle authorised under division 4.28 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations to use flashing lights of those colours. This includes police, fire, paramedic, towing and public utility vehicles.

Think of it as the 70/40 rule: If the speed limit is 80 km/h or more, you slow down to 70 km/h. If it is lower than 80 km/h you slow down to 40 km/h.

After you have passed by, you may resume speed.

The whole idea of this law is to give the people who work on the side of the road a relatively safe place to conduct their business.

How difficult can it be? You see the flashing lights and check around you to see if it is safe to move over. If it is, you change lanes and begin to slow down. If it isn’t, you simply begin to slow down. In either case, you need to be at the correct speed before you pass by.

Don’t confuse the rule as permission to pass by at either 70 or 40 km/h as the case may be. Circumstances may require that you slow down more than this or even stop if necessary.

I know that the message has not gotten through to some drivers. The last time I passed a tow truck picking up a broken down vehicle on the right shoulder of a divided highway I moved over to the left and slowed down. The driver behind me caught up, changed to the curb lane and blew right on through.

A genuinely stupid move like this could qualify as driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway instead of a slow down, move over violation.

The fault is not always the passing driver’s however. I have come across situations where there was insufficient time to see the stopped official vehicle and safely carry out the slow down, move over requirement.

Section 138 of the Motor Vehicle Act requires that warning signs be put in place when work is being carried out on a highway. In fact, signs with a pink background are meant to advise of a temporary emergency situation.

Further, section 139 requires that temporary signs be set up limiting speed and how vehicles are to proceed in these situations as well. It is not uncommon to find work being done at the roadside with no warning signs in place.

I have also found an official vehicle parked well off the highway with yellow lights flashing while the worker’s task was being conducted even further off the highway. There should be guidelines for when it is appropriate to use flashing lights and when it is not.

If you read case law, the justice will often mention that is your responsibility as a driver to be able to respond safely to situations that may reasonably be encountered on the highway. A slow down, move over situation is one of them.

Police department creates zone for safer online sales in Abbotsford, B.C.

By Gemma Karstens-Smith

THE CANADIAN PRESS

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. _ Meeting a stranger to complete an online deal can feel risky, even for a veteran police officer.

Sgt. Judy Bird knows first-hand about the “sketchy” feeling that can come with buying or selling items on platforms like Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook.

“Even though you’re not doing anything wrong, it feels weird. You’re sitting in your car, waiting to meet somebody that you don’t know and hoping that this transaction goes well,” said Bird, spokeswoman for the Abbotsford Police Department in B.C.

Abbotsford police are trying to make online deals less risky by turning two parking stalls in front of the department’s headquarters into a space where people can meet safely.

The area is under video surveillance and close to the station’s front doors, in case safety issues arise during a deal.

“This provides one more safe place where people can meet others to make these transactions in a safer manner,” Bird said. “Most offenders will not come to the police department.”

Online forums advertising everything from smart phones to wedding decor are popular in the Fraser Valley and the vast majority of transactions are problem free, she added.

But classified ads have led to violence in the past in B.C.

In 2004, Marc Rozen was killed in his Vancouver apartment after he placed an ad in a local paper saying he wanted to sell an engagement ring appraised at $18,000.

Police said the 38-year-old was murdered for the jewellery.

A man identified by police as a gang member was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder in Rozen’s death.

Kijiji Canada spokesman Kent Sikstrom said a number of steps are taken to protect user safety on the sales platform, including technology that detects and removes potentially unsafe or illegal posts, and a customer service team that responds to listings flagged by users.

The company also encourages people to meet in public places like coffee shops to complete transactions, Sikstrom added.

“If you’re going to somebody’s house to pick up a couch, let’s say, or something heavier that you couldn’t transport to a coffee shop, we always recommend bringing a friend with you, making sure you inspect the quality of the items … maybe even agreeing to meet at those buy and sell zones as well. These are all great options,” he said.

Sikstrom added that anyone who experiences a crime should report it to police.

Police in Abbotsford are happy to provide a safe place for exchanges and will step in if a crime is committed, but officers can’t help if an item isn’t as advertised, Bird said.

People should not bring extra cash, and remember to never share personal information like social insurance numbers or banking details, she added.

“Though we are a very trusting community with good people, it’s important for us to also look after our own safety,” Bird said.

Is It Legal For The Police To Drive Like That?

The C.F.S.E.U. was in the news this week, probably not in the way they would have liked. You may have seen the dash cam videos from Richmond showing a number of vehicles apparently brazenly running red lights. The story hit the news amid amazed comments about how bad drivers were becoming in the Lower Mainland. In later days it was revealed that these were unmarked police vehicles doing surveillance on gang targets.

Is it legal for the police to drive like this? The answer is a qualified yes.

When I started policing in 1981, section 122 of the Motor Vehicle Act gave the operators of emergency vehicles the authority to disregard the rules in Part 3. This part contains the rules on speed, stopping and lane use to mention a few examples.

Fire apparatus and ambulances were required to use flashing lights and a siren in all circumstances and the police could use lights and siren, lights alone or no emergency equipment at all depending on the circumstances. In all cases, due regard for the situation must be continuously considered.

In early 1998, section 122 was amended to require adherence to the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation (EVDR) when disregarding Part 3 requirements. With that change came mandatory training for emergency vehicle drivers before they could exercise these privileges.

The regulation defined in much more detail what could and could not be done along with justification needed to do so. It particularly restricted pursuit by police and loosened response requirements for fire and ambulance.

In all cases, the risk to the public using the highway must be outweighed by the risk of not making an emergency response.

Returning to the story from Richmond, this was not a pursuit as defined in the EVDR. It was a situation covered by section 4(2)(b) instead and is permitted as long as the public was not subject to unwarranted risk.

In the limited view provided by the dash cam videos that were shared, I did not see more than what would cause some surprise and consternation for surrounding traffic. There were no instances shown were civilian drivers had to slam on the brakes or make abrupt moves to avoid a collision.

I am not going to say that there was not a higher than normal risk present for everyone involved. There was, but it appeared to me that care was exercised to minimize it.

In order not to jeopardize the investigation, it may be some time before the reasons for this incident can be shared with the public.

Also, considering the wide publicity given to this incident, I don’t doubt that police are actively trying to find a better way to follow their criminal targets. I can’t think of a better way to confirm to the bad guys that they are under investigation than incidents like this.

Road Safety: Make the Right Choices

We just renewed the insurance on our car. It cost us $764 for basic insurance coverage on our 2013 Honda CR-V. I can hardly wait for next year to see what we will be paying to make up for this year’s $935 million ICBC loss.

I usually stay away from politics but the temptation for me is just too much this time. Our Attorney General has likened actions by the previous Liberal government to a financial dumpster fire. We can hear him screaming loudly now, but what about way back when this was happening? Isn’t the job of the opposition to oppose in real time, not after the fact?

Sober second thought is supposed to prevent the government from making mistakes not shout about what should have been done after it has happened.

Meanwhile, the numbers continue to rise. Today’s estimate extrapolated from the five year average includes 24 fatalities, 5.310 injured, 612 hospitalized and 27,014 reported collisions. Part of the problem, perhaps even the majority of it, appears to be that we tend to collide with things when we drive.

One suggested solution put forward is to cap insurance payouts by moving to a no fault scheme. As always, there are views for and against this. Your view may simply depend on whether you are the person paying the premiums or the person receiving the benefits.

Having spent a career writing traffic tickets, I feel bound to try to follow the rules faithfully when I drive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I make mistakes. We all do, even when we try our best. That’s just being human.

However, there’s a big difference between making mistakes and deliberately doing whatever you please. Keep to the speed limit and you will eventually see something like this:

BC Licence Plates 713TVM and DV949G

These two selfish drivers just couldn’t wait so the rules were something to disregard for their convenience. Depending on your point of view, they are either someone who deserves a violation ticket and the larger share of paying for insurance costs or someone who is practicing civil disobedience because the speed limit has not been set high enough.

We all balance our behaviours based on what we think it’s going to cost us in terms of risk. This situation is just one of many examples that occur on our highways with increasing frequency. The police weren’t around, complaints fall on deaf ears and nothing bad happened anyway. Why worry?

Perhaps I take this too much to heart. I don’t mind paying for vehicle insurance to cover the results of human error. I do mind paying for the deliberate disregard for others.

Does our current insurance scheme make it just too easy for drivers like these to do what they want when they want knowing that if they mess up we’ll all share the burden with them?

To some extent, we’ve made life difficult for drivers who drive while impaired, don’t hold a valid driver’s licence, participate in races or try to run from law enforcement. If a crash is the result of their choices, they’re insurance doesn’t cover them and ICBC takes action to recover what is paid out to others that suffer damages.

Should we extend this to other deliberate unlawful actions? Will the threat of significant financial penalty moderate making the wrong choice for fun or convenience?

Just how do you motivate drivers to try and make the right choices in all circumstances in an effort to reduce insurance costs?

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