How to Handle Being Pulled Over

It is possible that a careful driver could pass their entire driving career without being pulled over by the police. It’s a situation that is not covered in our provincial drivers manual Learn to Drive Smart and may only receive a brief mention during formal driver training.

My parents were responsible for my driver training and Dad’s instructions were simply that if I was stopped by the police it was “Yes sir, no sir, what can I do for you sir?” and if he heard otherwise he would deal with me when I got home. Having spent 25 years in policing, I can say that wasn’t bad advice.

The whole process starts when you see the police vehicle’s flashing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Depending on the officer and the situation, you may or may not also hear a siren.

If the officer chooses to use only the emergency lights, the Motor Vehicle Act requires:

the driver of a motor vehicle, when signalled or requested to stop by a peace officer who is readily identifiable as a peace officer, must immediately come to a safe stop.

The requirement to come to an immediate safe stop gives the driver a little bit of leeway to choose an appropriate place to pull over.

Turn on your right signal light to acknowledge the officer’s request, find the nearest safe spot to pull out of traffic and stop.

If the officer chooses to use emergency lights and the siren, the Motor Vehicle Act requires:

On the immediate approach of an emergency vehicle giving an audible signal by a bell, siren or exhaust whistle, and showing a visible flashing red light, except when otherwise directed by a peace officer, a driver must yield the right of way, and immediately drive to a position parallel to and as close as possible to the nearest edge or curb of the roadway, clear of an intersection, and stop and remain in that position until the emergency vehicle has passed.

In this case there is no choice, brake safely, move to the side and stop right away.

Aside from domestic disputes, traffic stops are among the most dangerous situations for police. A wise driver will choose to be non-threatening:

  • Turn on your interior lights if it is dark.
  • Sit still and caution your passengers to do the same.
  • Keep your hands still and visible.
  • Follow the officer’s instructions.
  • Be polite.
  • State your position but don’t argue.

It’s possible that the officer has a warning in mind and many people can successfully talk their way into a ticket at this point.

Conversation during the stop is up to you. All that the law requires is that you state your name and address and the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle. However, some discussion may smooth the way without being incriminating.

If you do receive a traffic ticket, I have some advice on how to handle it as well.

Once the officer has finished, you are free to continue on your way. Make a safe start and rejoin traffic.

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.


Holiday Origins

The holiday season is filled with many traditions and celebrations . . .

The origin of Christmas begins with a miraculous birth in the little town of Bethlehem.  Though the actual date remains an historical mystery, it is celebrated on December 25 thanks to a 4th century pope.

In 350 AD, with Rome slowly converting to Christianity from Paganism, Pope Julius I, declared December 25 the official date of Jesus’ birth. The date was cleverly chosen to coincide with pagan festivals of the winter solstice.

Some pagans, for example, celebrated Yule – a dedication to the Sun God Mithras. Yule, means “wheel” – a pagan symbol for the sun. Today, the word Yule, relates to Christmas, or the Christmas season.

Christmas trees are also rooted in pagan tradition. During the harsh winter live evergreen trees were brought into the home as a reminder that the crops would soon grow again.

Those of the Jewish Faith celebrate Hanukkah during this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is an 8 day ritual commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jew’s victory over the Syrians in 165 BC.  In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah means ‘dedication’.

Kwanzaa,  a holiday created in 1966 by Doctor Karenga, a Professor at the California State University, is celebrated by millions of people every year from December 26 to January 1. This non-religious holiday encourages African Americans to remember and embrace their African heritage.

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in present day Turkey. Known as a kind and generous man dedicated to the welfare of children, his legend grew to mythical proportions after his death. In Holland, he became known as Sinterklass. Every December 5th, Dutch children leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklass fills them with treats. In the 17th century, Dutch immigrants to Amercia brought a variation of the tradition with them and he became known as Santa Claus.

Boxing day, celebrated on December 26, is a holiday only in the Commonwealth Countries. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages when gifts or “Christmas boxes”, were given to less fortunate members of society.

Whatever your beliefs, and however you decide to celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe holiday.

#DriveSmartBC – Building Trust, Driving Confidence

ICBC’s current corporate slogan is “Building Trust, Driving Confidence.” Pair that with this week’s announcement of a $582 million loss for the first six months of the corporation’s fiscal year and one begins to wonder about the confidence part. That loss is being blamed on the rising number and cost of claims.

Laying the blame there is probably the easiest thing to do and the least likely to require a lot of explanation.

ICBC rates are set by the BC Utilities Commission, which is ultimately controlled by the provincial government. That’s the same government that took dividends out of ICBC coffers that could have been invested by the corporation and the profits used to pay insurance claims.

Our provincial government also controls many other facets of this issue. Driver licensing, policing, traffic laws, highway design and maintenance to name a few.

So, who’s in the driver’s seat and where are they taking us? Are we happy with the direction of travel?

There are three ways to reduce this deficit, take in more money, reduce costs and quit running into each other or other things.

No one wants to pay more for their vehicle insurance. This is a relatively immediate consequence and one that we feel acutely. It’s easy to complain about as it’s visible to us all regularly.

Let’s make the high risk driver pay a high risk premium. Ditto for those who actually cause a crash. They should pay more too. Good drivers should pay the smallest premium.

Recently, reducing costs has come in the form of paying less for claims. This is a little more palatable because we’re all better than average drivers and perhaps this isn’t seen as something that will directly affect us. Someone else will pay the price regardless of whether they are the culprit or the victim.

Finally we come to a very complicated problem, how to reduce or eliminate collisions. Vision Zero. The most certain way to reduce insurance rates.

People make mistakes. Despite our best intentions bad things can happen and this is why we buy insurance.

The reduction of these mistakes and the minimization of the consequences of those that do happen will be a long process. Safe highways, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe users all combine to produce the safe systems of Vision Zero.

I can make a difference immediately if I try. I realize that driving is a team effort, not an individual one. I won’t be selfish and I’ll share the road. I will even try to put others first if there is a need to.

Will you?

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

ILScorp Offices Are Closed for Remembrance Day

The ILScorp offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 12. Take the time this Remembrance Day to remember and honour those who have, and who continue to, make sacrifices for our country.

We’ll be back Tuesday morning, ready to take your calls, answer your questions and register you for online insurance programs. You can reach us from 8 a.m. – 5  p.m. Pacific Time. You can also register for our insurance training programs online, anytime, at ILScorp.com

And for subscribers to the ILSTV insurance industry newsletter, your daily dose of Canadian insurance news returns to your inbox on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

This November 11, please take a moment to remember all those who have fallen.

#LestWeForget

 

#DriveSmartBC: Resistance to Roundabouts

Change is good, that is unless the town wants to upgrade a busy T intersection with a roundabout rather than installing traffic lights. This is the situation in Qualicum Beach where the town has announced that it intends to rebuild the intersection of highway 19A (Island Highway West) and highway 4 (Memorial Avenue) using a roundabout. This is something that the Qualicum Beach Residents Association (QBRA) opposes.

The collision picture here is a quiet one, relatively speaking. ICBC says that between 2011 and 2015 there were 19 crashes at the intersection and only 3 of them included injuries. There is mention by both the town and the QBRA of a pedestrian fatality close by in the recent past but there is no indication of how close or if the fatality was related to the intersection itself.

The QBRA wants traffic lights installed at this intersection instead of a roundabout and wrote to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to register opposition to this portion of the project.

The number of signatures on the petition amounted to about 10% of the town’s population, but there was no indication of whether the petition was limited to residents of the town or not.

Will the desires of the QBRA prevail?

The current design guide used by the province indicates on page 139 that:

Roundabouts shall be considered as the first option for intersection designs where 4-way stop control or traffic signals are supported by traffic analysis. If an intersection treatment other than a roundabout is recommended, the project documentation should include a reason why a roundabout solution was not selected for that location. This roundabouts “first” policy supports the province’s Climate Action Program of 2007.

Why are roundabouts considered to be the best option? They have a high potential for safety:

  • Lower speeds – Situation changes slowly
  • Very forgiving environment
  • More time to make the right response
  • Judging gaps is easy and mistakes are not lethal
  • NO demand to accurately judge closing speeds of fast traffic
  • Low energy crashes: low closing speeds, low angle, low impact
  • No wide visual scans needed • Reduced need to look over one’s shoulder
  • Uncomplicated situations; simple decision- making

The most commonly raised concerns involve pedestrians and cyclists.

Of the two, the pedestrian receives more benefits. They now only have to cross one lane at a time with a refuge in the splitter island half way across. Marked crosswalks are set away from the circle. This means that pedestrians are not crossing directly in front of drivers busy looking for a gap in traffic.

Cyclists trade a slightly increased collision rate for conditions that make those collisions much less likely to result in significant injury or death.

To summarize, roundabouts have been shown to reduce total crashes by 39%. serious crashes by 76% and fatal or incapacitating injuries by 89% when compared to intersections with stop signs or traffic lights.

Does this sound like something we should oppose?

As an aside, the town’s web site mentions the yellow flashing pedestrian signals currently installed in the intersection.

The claim is made that the RCMP does not consider this to be a traffic control device.

“traffic control device” means a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device, not inconsistent with this Part, placed or erected by authority of the minister responsible for the administration of the Transportation Act, the council of a municipality or the governing body of a treaty first nation or a person authorized by any of them to exercise that authority;

“traffic control signal” means a traffic control device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is directed to stop and to proceed.

Flashing lights

131 (3) When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal, the driver of a vehicle facing the flashes of yellow light may cause it to enter the intersection and proceed only with caution, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk,

This is not correct and drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in this situation.

Share your comments by e-mail.

Distracted Driving Statistics – What to Believe?

I received an interesting fact sheet from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) this week. It looks at distracted driving related fatal collisions in Canada from 2000 to 2015. In some Canadian provinces this type of fatality has surpassed the total caused by alcohol impaired driving. However, that’s not the part of the document that made me pause.

Distracted driving to many means the manual use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. In reality, distractions include being engaged with entertainment or communication devices, engaging with passengers in the vehicle, or eating, smoking or personal grooming while driving, among other examples. Doing anything that takes the driver’s attention from the driving task could be considered as distracting.

This caveat in the preface to the report was what really captured my attention:

It should also be noted that in some collision report forms, investigating officers may code the driver condition as ‘distracted, inattentive,’ meaning there was a general lack of attention exhibited by the driver but there was no specific source of distraction identified.

To me, distracted and inattentive are two different things. Lumping them both together does not paint a true picture of the problem.

Collision data gathering can be a complicated task. In order to be reliable, it must be done promptly, carefully and thoroughly by investigators who gather as much data as possible, considered for accuracy and then reported in a consistent manner.

That was on the minds of the people who produced the TIRF report:

Fatality data from British Columbia from 2011 to 2015 were not available at the time that this fact sheet was prepared. As a result, Canadian data presented have been re-calculated to exclude this jurisdiction and make equitable comparisons.

This politely worded statement could mean many things. TIRF did not give adequate time between the request for data and the writing of the report. It takes more than 3 years for B.C. bean counters to determine a result. B.C. refused to share the data with TIRF. Worst of all, maybe B.C. really has no idea what that data is.

Our government chose to discontinue the requirement to report a collision to the police in July of 2008. Currently, ICBC claims personnel are the only ones in a position to gather the majority of collision data.

If we can’t share data with TIRF, can we be sure that what we are being told about the impact of distracted driving is true?

No doubt it is taking place as the police issued about 43,000 tickets for using electronic devices while driving last year and we know that the consequences of doing so can be terrible, but how many of the 960 collisions that happen each day in B.C. can be blamed on driver distraction?

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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