#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.

Road Safety: Left Turn Surprise!

A signal light does not provide you with any protection when you make a left turn. This simple fact was discovered by a lady who slowed as she approached her driveway, signalled for a left turn, saw a truck approaching in her rearview mirror and started to make the turn. To her complete surprise, the truck passed by her on the left and they collided corner to corner.

The woman driving the truck said that she did not see the signal light and there were no witnesses to confirm whether it was in use or not.

As there were no lines painted on the highway to prevent the truck from passing ICBC divided the liability for the collision 75/25 with the highest portion bourne by the driver of the turning vehicle.

This collision should not have come as a complete surprise to the lady for a number of reasons. The first might be that she hadn’t actually checked to see if her signal lights were working. The second is that she may not have signalled for a sufficient time to give the driver of the truck notice of her intended left turn. Finally, she could have taken human nature into account. My experience with many drivers is that they will tend to remain in motion rather than slowing or stopping if there is sufficient room to pass by.

When is the last time that you walked completely around your vehicle and checked to insure that all of the lights were working? Unless you are required by law to do pre- and post-trip inspections I suspect that it could be a long time, if ever. We rely on systems that can fail to protect us far more than we should because for the most part they keep working. Until they don’t. It’s up to the driver to make sure that the vehicle is in proper working order in all respects before leaving the driveway.

How long should we leave our signal light on before we do what it indicates? Certainly long enough that other drivers can see it, recognize what it is telling them and then react as necessary to insure safety. I might suggest that at least 4 seconds of signalling should be the minimum time before we take the advertised action. Failing to give sufficient warning is as bad as not giving any warning at all.

The Slow Down, Move Over law has resulted from the drivers tendency to remain in motion without taking action when presented with a sudden situation that does not require slamming on the brakes. Chances are good that you have watched many fail to slow down or move over in your travels. This lady’s left turn indication, if she made it properly, is another example of the same circumstances.

ICBC assesses liability for collisions based on guidance imposed by civil law. The case of Carmichael v Mayhew is an example of similar circumstances that I wrote about in the article Who’s Responsible?

There may be a witness to the operation of the signal lamp after the fact. If it was on when the force of the collision was applied to it, the signal filament could show indications of hot shock stress that could be discovered in post crash lamp examination. This kind of determination would require a trained collision investigator to provide ICBC or the courts with an expert opinion, but it is possible.

What about the driver of the truck who was found to be 25% at fault? The onus was on her not to pass on the left if it was unsafe to do so.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest