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?

Links:

Collisions ICBC: Fancy Running Into You Here!

Intersection Crash

The latest edition of Quick Statistics has been published by ICBC. The new rounded data it contains is for the year 2016 and that year there were 330,000 collisions reported where 64,000 resulted in either injury or fatality. Over all, collision rates have steadily increased from 2011 to 2016.

After browsing through the document I see that ICBC issued 3,370,000 Autoplan and temporary policies. At first glance, that’s about one collision for every ten vehicles during the year. (If you want to do the research and the math, I’ll let you refine and justify that number.)

288 people died, down 7 from 2015, but still above the five year average of 285. To be included in these numbers, a motor vehicle had to be involved and the incident had to take place on a public road. Collisions involving only cyclists or cyclists and pedestrians are not tracked, possibly because there is no Autoplan claim involved.

Obviously, we run into each other a lot and many people are hurt, some fatally.

If you’re interested, the crash involvement lists animals (11,000), cyclists (2,100), heavy vehicles (15,000), hit & run (54,000), motorycles (2,600) and pedestrians (3,100).

Despite many years of education and enforcement, 58 fatal victims were not wearing their seatbelt. By now, you would think that everyone knew how to wear a seatbelt properly and that it must always be used to prevent being out of place when the airbag deploys.

Intersections are dangerous places as about one third of collisions occur there. Crash maps are available for the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Southern Interior and the North Central region intersections in B.C.

Why are these crashes happening? ICBC attributes them to five broad reasons: speed, impaired driving, distracted driving, high risk driving and driving too fast for conditions. For fatal crashes speed is the primary contributing factor in 30% of them, followed by distracted driving at 28% and impaired driving at 22%.

High-risk driving behaviour includes failing to yield right of way, following too closely, ignoring a traffic control device, improper passing and speed.

Our government announced the move toward a Vision Zero model for reducing collisions in January 2016. The introduction explains:

British Columbia’s goal is to have the safest roads in North America by 2020. In line with the Vision Zero movement, the ultimate goal is to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries. The British Columbia vision will be achieved by: targeting key areas of concern; advancing the Safe System Approach; continuing with the implementation of the BC Road Safety Strategy; and enhancing road safety research capacity in the province. Improved communication and engagement with all British Columbia citizens, particularly local communities, stakeholders, and First Nations, is essential for moving toward Vision Zero .

Better road safety is not achieved by accident; it is created through deliberate, innovative, and evidence – driven practices. Step by step, kilometre by kilometre , British Columbia’s roads can be made safer for everyone.

The responsibility for reducing these significant numbers ultimately lies with you and me. A great place to start would be a return to an attitude of respect for each other when we share the highway. Otherwise, we’ll continue to say “fancy running into you here!”

Stop the presses! Icy roads don’t cause crashes; shitty drivers do

HERGOTT LAW – Icy Roads Don’t Cause Crashes

Hergott Law logoPaul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer that practices in Kelowna are regularly writes on road safety. One of his latest articles compares the newspaper headline “Dangerously icy roads lead to crashes” with “Deep water leads to drowning.” His position is that we need to grumble and complain about drivers who fail to use good winter tires and who overdrive the conditions. Not about the naturally occurring ice and snow.

I cringe every time I see these “fake news” headlines which all news media seem to be guilty of:

  • “Dangerously icy roads lead to crashes” (CBC – Nov. 15, 2017);
  • “Icy conditions causing havoc on Kelowna area roads” (Capital News – Dec. 3, 2017);
  •  “Icy road leads to crash” (Castanet – Nov. 4, 2017)

Do you ever see these analogous headlines:

  • “Deep water leads to drowning”;
  • “Watery depths cause havoc on the beach”; or
  • “Sunny weather leads to drowning death”?

Don’t they sound nonsensical!

Read Full Article Here: 

Source: DriveSmartBC

 

VIDEO – Roundabouts: Driving Lesson

Rick August of Smart Drive Test introduces us to the roundabout or traffic circle.

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

Restorative Justice: An Alternative to the Traffic Ticket

Scales of JusticeQuite some time ago I wrote about an initiative to trade your ticket for driver training. I was very pleased with the outcome of the one instance that I tried on my own, but the program never took off as the provincial government required the RCMP to provide it to all drivers if it was implemented. The Victoria Police Department is trying something similar through Restorative Justice Victoria.

An article in the Victoria Times Colonist reports that Cst. Sean Millard implemented his idea as a pilot project that exchanged a distracted driving ticket for a 3 hour restorative justice session on December 10, 2017.

32 drivers ranging in age from 20 to 60 chose to participate instead of paying the $543 fine.

These drivers completed cognitive tests that demonstrated how difficult simple tasks become when you’re distracted. They heard personal stories, including those of a retired firefighter who talked about having to pry people out of vehicles in crashes caused by distracted driving.

Karen Bowman, who founded Drop It and Drive ran parts of the workshop. In founding Drop It and Drive Karen developed a program delivery method to achieve behavioural change through imparting knowledge, science and practical, usable tools in a highly efficient and engaging manner.

Restorative justice helps people understand how their actions affect others to create long-lasting change. The programs, if they exist in your community, are run by volunteers.

Participation in a restorative justice program like this one starts with a referral by the police, and this is likely going to be the biggest hurdle. One traffic court judicial justice that I have spoken with commented on officer resistance to step outside the normal procedure for dealing with ticket disputes, even when suggested by the court.

Referral also depends on having an appropriate program in place with your restorative justice group along with the needed volunteers to deliver it. If you want to make a difference in your community, consider volunteering.

Starting with Road Safety Vision in 2001, Canada’s national road safety strategy contained public education initiatives and targeted high risk driving behaviour. Known as the Road Safety Strategy 2025 today, this restorative justice program neatly fits that target and recognizes that the traffic ticket is not the only way to change driving behaviour for the better.

Should we have to take drivers by the hand and explain to them that distracted driving is dangerous and they should not do it? I think not, but part of the problem is that we tend to let our behaviours change to suit our perceived risk. If you cannot leave your phone alone, then the more effective ways that there are to convince you that you should, the better off we’ll all be.

The “I Can Get Away With It” Mindset

Ticket WriterI’ve written before about the three Es of road safety, education, engineering and enforcement. The enforcement component was the subject of a comment to me concerning a visible police presence on our highways. The observation was that unmarked cars and what seems like minimal enforcement creates a “I can get away with it” mindset.

The fleet at the last traffic unit that I worked at consisted of seven vehicles: two unmarked, two “clean roof” and three fully marked cars. One of the unmarked cars was only available for enforcement work if the supervisors weren’t working or were otherwise occupied. Policy dictated the percentage of cars that could be anything less than fully marked.

The unmarked cars were popular even though they were relatively easy to identify as police vehicles if you were paying attention. Plain trim, black steel wheels and antennas on the roof tend to stick out.

Even so, you tended to find more bad driving behaviour patrolling in the unmarked car than you would when using a fully marked vehicle. My experience was also that I was able to deal with drivers that I did not see misbehaving otherwise.

Add an unconventional unmarked vehicle to the mix and it got more interesting. We were envious of a neighbouring traffic unit that had an unmarked pickup truck with a canopy. Drivers did all sorts of foolish things around it, probably because they did not associate it with active traffic enforcement.

Our supervisor often expressed his desire to see flashing lights at the roadside. He said that the public couldn’t tell whether we were writing tickets or warnings and the flashing lights served to remind them that if they didn’t behave, the next driver pulled over might be them.

This halo effect could be very short lived however. Occasionally I would entertain myself by leaving the radar running while I wrote a ticket so I was able to keep and eye on what was overtaking us. A vehicle would come into view travelling at a speed in excess of the limit, see the flashing lights and slow down. Sometimes they even slowed to a speed under the limit. After they passed by I would frequently see their speed creep back up to the initial speed over the limit before the vehicle went out of sight.

I wonder whether flashing lights deter bad driving behaviour or if it only discourages it in places where they are seen frequently. After all, it is some other driver that is receiving police attention, not you, so why worry?

My old patrol area consisted of about 350 kilometers of numbered highway. My shift partner and I more often than not were the only dedicated traffic enforcement present save for the overlap with the day or afternoon shift depending on which shift we were working. The chance of running into either one of us was slim and truthfully, became even slimmer the farther away you were from the detachment.

I don’t agree that unmarked cars are part of the visible enforcement deficit, but the scope of the job given the size of our province contributes to a feeling of minimal enforcement and an “I can get away with it” mindset.

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