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#DriveSmartBC – Please, Not So Close!

This must have been Following Too Closely Week in British Columbia. I received the story of an incident in Sooke, an analysis of a video from Richmond and was subjected to this dangerous behaviour myself. You might be able to get away with ignoring the Motor Vehicle Act, but the laws of physics will eventually prevail.

The story out of Sooke goes like this:

I’ve just witnessed the most inconsistent driver I’ve EVER SEEN in my 38 years of driving!

A black car passed me on the 4 lanes towards Sooke. He gets behind a pickup and commences to follow between 20 to 5 feet, maybe even LESS a couple times, all the way to Sooke. I was waiting for them to crash he was so close!!!

When the pickup turned off he’s right on the bumper of the next driver.

Now here’s the crazy part: He signals properly going through the traffic circle and signals to go into Village foods.

So he KNOWS how to drive properly yet tailgates like the most ignorant driver on the road…

Last Wednesday afternoon I was traveling in the right hand lane northbound on the south side of the Malahat. I had just entered the 70 km/h zone on the south side when I heard a loud air horn sound behind me. A glance in my rear view mirror showed nothing for a few moments but the shiny chrome grille of a green dump truck pulling a pup trailer.

Apparently he did not want to slow down or change lanes.

The drivers in these two stories knew they were wrong.

The one in Sooke made a deliberate choice to ignore common sense. Hopefully he has not fallen into the trap of letting this become his default setting because nothing bad has happened from it, yet.

In my case it was either the driver not wanting to slow on the hill or he had a momentary lapse of attention and was warning me of an impending collision because of it.

The video in the Richmond article shows typical following distances on B.C.’s highways today.

ICBC no longer publishes detailed collision data by contributing factor as it did years ago. However, a document from 2007 shows following distance at #7 in the list of top 10 causes of collisions.

This behaviour not make the top 10 in traffic tickets issued during 2017 though. Police wrote about 2,000 tickets for following too closely in general and 48 for commercial vehicle following too closely specifically. This is about 0.5% of the total number of tickets issued that year.

Please, not so close! Leave at least 2 seconds distance between vehicles. The risk may be comfortable for you but it’s not the smart choice.

Link:

DriveSmartBC

Things That Go Bump in the Parking Lot – Part 2

Asking for people to send me their thoughts at the end of last week’s article resulted in one of the largest responses I’ve ever received. Ultimately, the overwhelming choice of advice was to report the offending driver to ICBC and the police. Fewer people were willing to shrug their shoulders and carry on with life while two offered emotional support.

I was also advised on how dishonest people might seek to profit from the situation by either accusing me of being the driver at fault or relying on convincing me not to report and covering the loss by reporting their half of the incident as a hit and run. This was not something that I had considered myself.

Had this person been polite and apologetic at the outset, I would have probably shrugged my shoulders and carried on with life. A bit of scuffed paint on an older pickup really wasn’t a big deal. After all, it’s not like I haven’t backed into something in my driving history either.

However, given my experience in traffic law enforcement and the circumstances I found myself in, I was concerned that this woman may no longer be a safe driver. RoadSafetyBC says that we are currently outliving our ability to drive safely by about 10 years.

RoadSafetyBC does accept unsolicited driver fitness reports, but you must be able to identify the driver. They are unhelpful in any other circumstances and will only repeat that you must report to police instead.

After some thought, I gathered my dash cam footage along with the witness information and reported to ICBC, my own damage insurance company and the police.

You should report any collision to your insurance company, regardless of the amount of damage. Depending on the terms of your contract of insurance, you could be denied coverage at a later date if you fail to report promptly.

ICBC and my other insurance company resolved the claim quickly, finding the other driver liable for the collision. A quick trip to the recommended body shop found no hidden damage and I advised them to close the claim. No repairs would be required.

Contrary to my expectations, the police were willing to take my complaint that the other driver had refused to provide required information post collision. I was contacted by a constable who discussed the situation with me as a peer. He agreed to interview the other driver and request a driver re-exam from RoadSafetyBC if he felt that it was appropriate instead of issuing a violation ticket.

When I followed up on my complaint, he advised me that the request to RoadSafetyBC had been made.

Reporting can also help in the case of malicious and criminal intent. I received stories from people who had been convinced not to report and later on had the other driver either renege on a promise to pay or reported themselves as victims. Some of these people even paid their deductible and accepted some liability rather than argue.

Offending drivers have also been known to convince victims not to report and then made a fictitious hit and run complaint to get their vehicles repaired for the cost of the deductible.

I may not have felt entirely happy about it, but in retrospect, I think that making the reports was the wise thing to do.

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.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

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Things That Go Bump in the Parking Lot

DriveSmartBC

This is a short story about things that go bump in the parking lot. The outcome could have been a lot simpler with a bit of courtesy and the sharing of required information but it didn’t happen that way. I wonder what the ultimate cost will be when all is said and done.

I was waiting to turn left from the main access into a parking aisle at the mall along with a car opposing me and traffic behind me. There was a vehicle further along the aisle backing out, so we all waited.

When the vehicle had backed out, we all began to enter the aisle in turn until the car in front of me stopped.

The driver began to back up and when it was clear that a collision with me was imminent I sounded my vehicle’s horn. The car stopped, pulled ahead and began to back up again. This time sounding the horn did not help and a small collision occurred.

We moved out of the way and I got out and approached the other driver, a woman that I estimate was in her early 80’s. Her first words to me were “Why didn’t you get out of my way?”

If the other traffic had not been stopped behind me, I certainly would have tried to.

Her next piece of advice was that “Trucks should not be in this parking lot anyway, they belong out there in the back 40.” and gestured to the far edge of the lot.

I asked her to exchange information with me and she refused. She refused again after I tried to explain that we were required to do this.

I was beginning to become concerned about this reluctance and while I considered what to do next three people approached me to state that they had watched the incident occur and offered to provide their contact information. This was a very personal reminder that people willing to help are all around us. Thank you very much!

At this point the woman decided that she should examine my truck for damage. As we walked to it, she remarked that I looked like a cop. I told her that I used to be one and was surprised when she responded with “It figures. You’ve got nothing better to do than cause trouble for others.”

I took my cell phone out and photographed her, then went back to her car and photographed it.

She came back, got into her car and departed.

Now what to do? The damage to my truck amounted to a scuff on the bumper and I would have been prepared to shrug it off had she identified herself and appeared apologetic.

Maybe she was embarrassed, just a miserable person or wanted to avoid losing a safe driving discount. Worse still, maybe she didn’t have a driver’s licence or had reached the end of her ability to drive safely. The decision about whether to do anything was left up to me, along with the worry that she might try to report this as my fault.

#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

 

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