Mandatory Brake Checks on B.C.’s Highways

Check Brakes SignPerhaps you saw news coverage of the out of control commercial truck collision on the Coquihalla Highway last Friday. Witness accounts from the scene speculated that the combination appeared to have lost it’s brakes and may not have stopped at the mandatory brake inspection pullout nearby. No doubt this will be either confirmed or disproved when the investigation of the incident is complete.

There are mandatory brake checks before significant grades on many of B.C.’s highways. Drivers of specified vehicles must stop and perform a check of the braking system before they start down the hill. If the air brakes are out of adjustment or any other defects are found, the driver must remedy the problem before proceeding. Hopefully this insures that heavily loaded vehicles don’t lose their brakes and become involved in a collision.

You might be surprised to find out that heavy commercial trucks with air brakes are not the only vehicles required to stop and check brakes at these mandatory check locations. Any truck with a licenced gross vehicle weight over 5,500 kilograms must stop and check, regardless of the type of braking system involved. This could include a pickup truck towing a large recreational trailer behind it.

Properly licenced drivers of vehicle combinations like this often have either a higher qualification or endorsements and are familiar with how to proper check their braking systems. ICBC highlights a proper inspection procedure in the Driving Commercial Vehicles manual. It includes a pre and post trip list and a pre-hill section. The manual is worthwhile reading for any driver who would like to gain a better understanding of the heavy vehicles that we share the road with in addition to the brake information.

Many brake checks have signs posted that remind the driver of what they should be checking when they stop.

This is how we hope that the system works and we are protected by its operation when we share the road with heavy loads. When the driver is a conscientious one, all is well. In the real world, I’ve seen drivers pull in, stop, pause and continue without ever leaving the cab. If they did alight, a good tire thumping to discover flats was all that occurred as they never stooped to look underneath. I even knew of trucking companies where a ticket for out of adjustment brakes on trailers was a virtual certainty if I found them during patrols.

Even the courts have not helped the situation. Unless case law has changed since I ended my policing career in 2005, the courts held that the simple act of being able to stop the vehicle at the check was sufficient to comply with the sign directing drivers there. Unless the driver failed to stop at all, there were no grounds to issue a ticket for disobeying. Police would have to examine the vehicle and find a defect, then ticket for the particular defect in order to take any enforcement action.

With a perfectly functional, correctly adjusted braking system, over use of the brakes on a hill can result in a runaway truck. Experience, anticipation and proper control of vehicle speed through the use of the transmission on hills is critical. Signs at the check showing distance and grades are priceless information for drivers who have not encountered the hills of British Columbia.

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.

Pot, policing hot topics at 2016 AMO Conference

The 2016 Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Conference delivered  key presentations on policing costs and marijuana legalization today.

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, an independent inspector of police services, spoke to delegates about theUnited Kingdom’s efforts to reduce policing costs while maintaining safety and protecting community policing and frontline policing. Rising policing costs continue to be a concern for many municipal governments.

Delegates also heard from Ashley Rea Kilroy, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy, City and County of Denver. Ms. Kilroy discussed Denver’s experience with the legalization of marijuana, noting that it required significant coordination between public services.

“Municipal governments deliver many of the services that will be impacted by the legalization of marijuana,” said Gary McNamara, AMO President. “Policing, licensing, public health and local economies will all be affected. We need to work with the provincial and federal governments as legalization moves forward.”

Conference presentations are being posted to www.amo.on.ca.

Ontario Government Ministers took questions from Conference delegates in an open session. Key issues include interest arbitration, municipal insurance costs and energy. More information on these and other key municipal matters is available at :www.amo.on.ca/AMO-Content/Footer/Newsroom.

The Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth announced the launch of the Investment Ready: Certified Site Program aimed at helping projects get off the ground faster by marketing sites to international investors.

Program highlights for Wednesday, August 17, the final day of the Conference, will include:

  • 9:05 a.m. – Incoming AMO President Lynn Dollin, Deputy Mayor, Town of Innisfil
  • 9:15 a.m. – The AMO Gas Tax Awards are presented by Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs and MP, Spadina-Fort York
  • 9:45 a.m. – Special session on Climate Change Going Forward

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component ofOntario and Canada’s political system.

Follow AMO on Twitter: @AMOPolicy, #AMOCONF16

SOURCE Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Why Don’t I See Traffic Police at Work?

cop-writing-ticket.thumbnailYou might be surprised to learn that this was a topic of conversation among my colleagues when we sat down for a coffee break during a shift. Most often one of us would have been travelling during their vacation and the remark would be something along the lines of “I drove all the way to X and back and didn’t see anyone stopping violators!” Maybe there is something to the remark “Where’s a cop when you need one?”

In rural British Columbia, the traffic enforcement units that I served on are required to cover long stretches of highway. Fort St. John was responsible for the Alaska Highway (97) from mile 33 to mile 147, Highway 29 from Highway 97 to Hudson’s Hope and all of the rural roads to the Alberta border. South Okanagan policed Highway 97 from the US border to Peachland, Highway 3 from the west end of Manning Park to Rock Creek, Highway 5A from Princeton to the Okanagan Connector and Highway 3A from Keremeos to Kaleden. Central Vancouver Island managed Highway 19 from Nanaimo to north of Bowser, Highway 19A from Parksville to Fanny Bay, all of Highway 4A and Highway 4 from the east to the west coast.

In all cases, it was difficult, if not unworkable to patrol from one boundary of the district to the other in a single shift.

The manpower complement in Fort St. John was a corporal and 5 constables. South Okanagan was staffed with a sergeant, a corporal and 10 constables. Central Vancouver Island manpower included a sergeant, two corporals and 9 constables. The majority of the on road work was done by the constables and administration by the sergeants and corporals.

That seems like a lot of resources until you consider that there were other demands for time that could include collision investigation, court, training courses, impaired driving investigations (before the IRP program this could easily consume half a shift) and the dread of us all: paperwork. Days off, annual vacation, sick leave and the need to cover both day and afternoon shifts spread us more thinly than we would have liked.

I can’t say that we were hidden from the casual glance of the travelling public either. Unmarked cars were rare in the fleet. They were almost always plain full sized sedans with black steel wheels and antennae sticking out of the roof. If you couldn’t spot one, it’s likely because you weren’t paying too much attention.

Information from the province regarding traffic policing resources and goals can be difficult to find. The BC Policing and Community Safety Plan devotes a few words to traffic and road safety while the report on Police Resources in British Columbia, 2014 does not indicate how police manpower is dedicated beyond how many officers are authorized for each location.

It’s not surprising that you don’t see flashing lights that identify traffic law enforcement in progress when you travel on BC’s highways. The task is a huge one and the number of police officers dedicated specifically to the job results in many kilometres of highway to patrol for each one. Focused enforcement targeting high collision locations and behaviours is necessary for efficiency and limits random patrols.

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.

5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

5 questions for retiring GM design chief Ed Welburn

By Tom Krisher And Dee-Ann Durbin

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WARREN, Mich. _ During a visit to the Philadelphia Auto Show, 9-year-old Ed Welburn was spellbound by the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone, with its big fins and rocket-like front cones. Then and there, he vowed to become a designer for General Motors Co.

On June 30, he’ll retire as GM’s head of global design, a role that makes him one of the auto industry’s most influential designers. He is also one of the industry’s highest ranking African-American executives.

Welburn the sixth design chief in GM’s 108-year history reinvigorated design at the company. After GM shed excess brands like Pontiac in its 2009 bankruptcy, Welburn gave the remaining ones a fresh identity, turning out bold, chiseled Cadillacs and elegant Buick sedans. If you look closely, you might see his nod to the Cyclone’s tail fins in the 2010 Cadillac SRX.

Welburn, who joined GM in 1972, also is credited with pulling together GM’s 10 global design studios which had operated independently and working more closely with engineers and marketers from the very beginning of a car’s development.

“I firmly believe that the best vehicles happen when you have great collaboration between designers and engineers. If you don’t have it, you can forget about it,” he said.

Welburn still sketches every vehicle the company is working on, but doesn’t share his drawings with his team they still need to come up with their own ideas. For a high-ranking official in a cutthroat industry, Welburn is surprisingly soft-spoken and courtly. He favours tailored suits and cufflinks in an era where most designers are clad in jeans.

In his office overlooking GM’s historic design dome where every car has gone for final approval since 1956 Welburn says he feels like his work at GM is complete. He’s planning a two-week spin through Europe in his new Chevrolet Corvette, one of the vehicles he helped design.

Here are Welburn’s answers to questions from The Associated Press. They have been edited for length.

Q: Is it important to you that you were the first African-American chief designer at a major automaker?

A: It’s nothing that I dwell on or celebrate. It didn’t take me long to understand the first week that I was here, there was a responsibility I had. Everyone wanted to know what I could do. I was representing more than myself, right or wrong. There’s a certain amount of pressure that goes with that.

Q: What is your legacy at GM?

A: I believe that we have created a culture in which design and engineering really work together. You have to have that in creating the fundamentals of the vehicles, the basic architecture. If you get great proportions, then it’s much easier for a designer to style it. If you don’t have that great proportion, then designers do some bad things to try to make up for shortcomings. I think a huge part of (my legacy) is the collaboration between design and its partners, as well as establishing this very powerful global design organization.

Q: Have you been able to attract design talent to Detroit?

A: The challenge is attracting digital sculptors. They’re very talented and it’s a very limited pool. They’re sculpting in the computer. They can create just about anything, and every industry needs them, including the film industry. So we’re competing with them as well as Silicon Valley. Years ago it was very difficult to get anyone from California to come here. You create the right environment and they see what we’re doing. It’s not easy, but it’s a whole lot easier than it was 10 years ago.

Q: Of everything you’ve designed or been in charge of here, what car is your favourite?

A: There’s so many projects I love for so many different reasons. The Corvette project, the latest C7. With this one, the average age of the customers was getting higher, sales were going down. We needed to make a course correction. It needs to be obvious it’s a Corvette, but it needs to be obvious that it’s a new Corvette. I decided since we had designers in studios around the world, to offer up to every designer to submit their idea. Ultimately the design came from the Corvette team, but it was fascinating to see how each one of those studios interpreted it differently.

Q: With new ways of powering vehicles, will designs change?

A: It depends on the propulsion system. If it’s electric, I think it can give us more flexibility, the ability to put a greater focus on the interior space and comfort. Autonomous vehicles, as well, will do that. At the end of the day, a beautiful vehicle, no matter how it’s propelled, will win.

Reporting Air Pollution from Vehicles

Smoking ExhaustA visitor to the site has asked the following: “I have seen a few trucks driving around residential areas that are really polluting. I wanted to report them somewhere with the hope of them getting a notice or something to hopefully look after this issue. I cannot find a phone number or an email where this can be done. Do you know how can I report this truck?” It’s a great question as vehicles like this affect the air that you and I breathe. We should have some method to deal with problem vehicles that we encounter in our day to day life.

The primary responsibility for enforcement in situations like this one falls to the police and Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE). The RCMP seems to discourage any reporting by e-mail but will accept reports by telephone and in person. CVSE appears to accept complaints by e-mail and telephone only. With the municipal police forces, you may be able to use all three methods of contact. If you intend to complain to police, contact the department having jurisdiction for the area where you make your observations.

One would expect that the Ministry of the Environment would have a stake in this too. Their web site does mention reporting violators of environmental laws but a call to their report line directed me to visit the BC Air Quality web site, which in turn pointed me right back to the reporting line that I had called. Regardless, the person I spoke with advised me that the Ministry of the Environment did not accept complaints about excessive vehicle exhaust.

On the bright side, there is a carrot to go with the stick. The Scrap It Program provides incentives to purchase a 2008 or newer vehicle to replace an older vehicle. In fact, if simply scrap an older vehicle you can receive credits on bicycles, transit passes, or car sharing programs. If none of these are interesting, you can receive $200 cash instead.

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