Pedestrians vs Drivers

Pedestrian CrossingI was a bit taken aback after reading a discussion on Twitter the other day. The conversation was between a driver and a pedestrian who seemed to hold opposite points of view. The pedestrian felt that they should not have to wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight to be seen at night. The driver countered with the warning that if you can’t be seen, you can’t be given the right of way. Wearing protective clothing was a wise thing to do.

Our rule book, the Motor Vehicle Act, defines how drivers and pedestrians must relate to each other when they use our highways.

If there is a sidewalk on one or both sides of the highway, a pedestrian must not walk on the roadway. They may choose not to use the sidewalk if they walk on the shoulder. This exception would allow a pedestrian to walk on the side of the highway, outside of the path of vehicles, if the sidewalk is on the opposite side of the road for their chosen direction of travel.

Depending on how far you are walking, it may make sense to cross over and use the sidewalk when there is only one. Chances are greater that drivers will expect you to be there.

If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the highway, using the shoulder or extreme left side of the roadway.

Here is where I pause. The law says that pedestrians may use the extreme left side of the roadway in some circumstances. This is a place where I dare say that drivers might feel that they are entitled and pedestrians are not. These drivers may be wrong, but in a collision they win. As a pedestrian, do you want to be dead right?

When we reach an intersection pedestrians in crosswalks who are following the directions of the appropriate traffic signal must be granted the right of way to cross. If they entered the crosswalk lawfully when signals are present, they have right of way to complete the crossing, even after the signals have changed.

Strangely, many people do not consider a T to be an intersection while they will readily agree that an X is. Either configuration is a proper intersection.

If a pedestrian is crossing the highway anywhere other than in a crosswalk, they must yield the right of way to vehicles. In fact, municipal bylaws may prohibit crossing the street outside of a crosswalk.

Crosswalks may be marked or unmarked, but they always exist at intersections.

If it is necessary, the rules say that drivers must sound their vehicle’s horn to warn pedestrians of their approach.

Ultimately, a driver must always exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who is on the highway.

It’s not all one sided. Pedestrians have duties toward drivers too.

You must not walk or run out in front of a vehicle when it is not practical for the driver to yield the right of way. Remember this when you step into a crosswalk. If there are lines painted on the roadway, they will not protect you from your bad decision.

Pedestrians cannot be on the roadway to hitch-hike (except in case of an emergency), solicit business or employment from the occupant of a vehicle. Hitch-hiking from the shoulder is permitted, except on freeways.

Having said all of this, we make mistakes, even when we are trying very hard not to. These rules are an effort to minimize mistakes.

When it makes sense, we wear all sorts of protective clothing and use other safety tools. I was never without my yellow jacket with reflective stripes and a flashlight when I worked on the road at night. Just because you can see the driver does not mean that the driver can see you.


#RememberRoadVictims: November 15, 2017 – National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims

On average, five people die on Canada’s roads each day.* Wednesday, November 15 is the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims in Canada. Each year in Canada, over 1,800 people are killed and nearly 162,000 are injured (over 10,200 seriously).*


  • The prevalence of drug driving is now rivaling alcohol impaired driving
  • Distracted driving is a growing safety concern
  • High risk factors that can contribute to collisions are all preventable. They include:
    • Driving impaired: alcohol, drugs
    • Speeding and/or aggressive driving
    • Driver distraction (e.g.: texting, cell phone use) and/or fatigue
    • Failure to wear a seat belt

Road crashes impact everyone. Victims, families and friends suffer the losses first hand, but so do entire communities. On this day, communities across Canada are joining with their citizens, road safety stakeholders, enforcement officials and support groups in remembering those lost, and to recognize that ‘safe driving saves lives.’

Since 2007, the third Wednesday of November has been set aside for Canadians to remember those who have lost their lives or been seriously injured on Canadian roads.

PSA → Moments Matter

For more on the day, visit

*Source: Transport Canada (2017).  Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics 2015. DISCLAIMER: The number of yearly fatalities on Canada’s roads and highways fluctuates from year to year. It is based on 1,858 fatalities and 161,902 injuries in 2015.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA)
The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is an incorporated non-profit organization in Canada that coordinates all matters dealing with the administration, regulation and control of motor vehicle transportation and highway safety. Membership includes representation from provincial and territorial governments as well as the federal government of


Maintaining a Safe Following Distance

Sick CarI try very hard to maintain at least a two second following distance when I drive. This can sometimes be quite a challenge as it often seems that I am the only driver present that thinks this is a worthwhile accomplishment. In fact, other drivers seem bent on preventing this because they seem quite happy filling up any available space and forcing me to constantly adjust my position.

Beginning at page 72, the Learn to Drive Smart guide devotes some explanation to Space Margins. It explains the Two Second Rule and discusses braking distances. It also sprinkles advice throughout chapter 6, Sharing the Road. It’s a critical concept for new drivers to learn and accomplished drivers to retain and follow.

I’ve already mentioned maintaining my following distance but I also have to consider the distance from vehicles following me and minimizing the time that I spend beside other vehicles. Leaving yourself an “out” in case something happens is a never ending task.

Dealing with drivers in front of you is not that difficult. Simply slow slightly to create the necessary gap again and then resume the speed of traffic. Yes, you may find yourself doing this continually, and it is annoying, but better safe than sorry!

The same method works for vehicles beside you. If they are not passing, adjust your position to be ahead or behind them and you have regained the desired space margin.

When someone seems bent on tailgating you, the situation can be more difficult. Some drivers will purposely attempt to bulldoze you out of the way so that they can do it again to the next vehicle in front of them.

On multi-lane road, it is often as simple as slowing slightly and letting the driver behind you decide to pass on their own.

Of course, this assumes that you are in the right hand lane. If you aren’t, you should be. Move over and let the driver by, even if you are doing the speed limit.

This becomes more difficult when there is only one lane of travel for each direction. Slowing down when there is an opportunity for the vehicle behind to pass may work. If it doesn’t, signal, pull over to the right and stop. Driving on the shoulder is illegal. After the vehicle passes by, pull back onto the highway and continue on your way.

Turning on your hazard flashers or flashing your brake lights might not be a good idea. The driver behind may not be paying much attention and could decide to ignore the brake lights. This could lead to a collision.

Whatever you do, don’t decide to teach the other driver a lesson by stomping on your brakes! One bad behaviour does not justify another.

In either case, it’s time for you to leave more space in front because you are now making decisions for two drivers. More space means more time. You can brake more slowly if something happens in front of you, giving the driver behind more time to react as well.

In 2015, 2,400 traffic tickets were written to drivers for following too closely. It appears to me that this behaviour is as common as speeding, yet in comparison, more than 160,000 speed related tickets were issued that year. It would be interesting to know what portion of the 2,400 tickets were written in response to collisions and how many were the result of preventive enforcement.

Auto insurance rates rising as companies blame costs of accident claims

Excerpted article was written By Robert Jones, CBC News

New Brunswick drivers can expect to see higher bills for car insurance beginning as early as next week, as insurance companies begin to respond more aggressively to escalating accident claims in the province.

Michèle Pelletier, New Brunswick’s consumer advocate for insurance, has been involved in a number of this year’s rate hearings at the New Brunswick Insurance Board and confirmed rates are on the rise.

“Rates are going up,” she said.

“We do expect an increase. We’re trying to say, ‘Yes, fair to the company, but it should be also fair to the consumer.'”

New Brunswick’s largest auto insurer, Wawanesa, has already been approved for its largest premium increase in more than a decade — an average seven per cent hike on more than 92,000 privately owned vehicles in New Brunswick.

For Wawanesa customers it amounts to an average increase of $42 per vehicle, although that will vary significantly from driver to driver.

Insurance board agrees with increase

The company has indicated 42 per cent of its policy holders will be receiving higher increases of between 10 and 15 per cent effective Jan. 1.

‘If as a consumer we have a steady increase it’s easier to absorb than all of a sudden to have a big increase — that’s one of my problems.’Michèle Pelletier, consumer advocate for insurance

Wawanesa presented evidence over the summer and fall showing it has been losing money in New Brunswick.

It claimed it actually requires an average 32 per cent rate increase to return to full profitability but was concerned about shocking New Brunswick customers with a change that severe.

The insurance board agreed.

“[Wawanesa] justifies its selection … in the face of the much higher indicated rate on the basis of retention and customer recruitment,” ruled the board.

“The panel is satisfied that [Wawanesa] has justifiable business reasons for these decisions.”

‘That’s one of my problems’

Pelletier has been opposing some of the larger increases companies have applied for, arguing their profit issues, if justified, should not be fixed too quickly.

“If as a consumer we have a steady increase it’s easier to absorb than all of a sudden to have a big increase — that’s one of my problems,” said Pelletier.

“The insurance industry they are there to make money and that’s OK but not too much money to the detriment of consumers.”

New Brunswick currently has some of Canada’s lowest auto insurance rates.

In 2016 the average vehicle cost $775 to insure — 46 per cent less than rates in Ontario.

But auto insurance accident claims in New Brunswick have been escalating in recent years, up $90.5 million (39 per cent) between 2012 and 2016, and several companies say their profit margins in the province have disappeared.

New rates begin next week for some customers

New Brunswick’s second largest insurer, Intact, covers 60,000 privately owned vehicles in the province.

It applied for a 9.5 per cent increase, although the Insurance Board rolled that back to seven per cent.

Intact’s new rates begin next week for new customers and after Dec. 22 for existing customers depending on when their current policies expire.

Michèle Pelletier, New Brunswick’s consumer advocate for insurance, confirmed that automobile insurance rates are going up across the province. (Submitted)




Another large provider, Allstate Insurance, has applied for an average 10 per cent rate increase for the 34,000 New Brunswick vehicles it covers while Pembridge, another Allstate Company which insures 17,000, has applied for eight per cent.

Hearings on those applications are not yet scheduled.

The news is even worse for drivers in high-risk categories who are covered by the Facility Association — an industry collective that operates as insurer of last resort for those with poor driving records and who companies will no longer deal with individually.

Some companies keep increases below 3%

It has applied to raise rates in New Brunswick $267 per vehicle (15 per cent) for about 7,000 clients which would raise the average premiums in that category above $2,000 each.

That application has also not yet been heard but, as a sign of how poor some insurance markets in New Brunswick have gotten, the Facility Association won a $765 (18.2 per cent) average increase on the coverage of New Brunswick taxis earlier this year — pushing those premiums to an average of over $5,000 as of Sept. 1.

Premiums are set to rise for thousands of car owners across the province. (Getty Images/Cultura RF)

But not all companies are chasing large increases.

Full New Brunswick Insurance Board hearings are only required for rate hikes above three per cent and several companies have kept their requests below that, even while filing evidence claiming more is needed to obtain full profitability.

Included in that group are Aviva of Canada (+2.99 per cent), The Personal (+2.99 per cent),  Co-Operators (+2.91 per cent),  Certas  (+2.94 per cent) and CAA (+2.9 per cent).

Time to install winter tires, prepare for winter driving

With temperatures now dipping below 7°C and snow in the forecast in some parts of the province, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is reminding motorists that the time has come to install winter tires and prepare for winter driving.

“Many people think winter tires are only important when driving in snowy or icy conditions but they also help with handling, manoeuvrability and braking in cold weather,” said Kaitlynn Furse, public relations manager, CAA SCO. “Now is the time to install winter tires, test your battery, service your brakes and ensure all regular car maintenance is up to date. Preparing now means fewer surprises during the winter months.”

A recent CAA survey showed that about two-thirds of members in South Central Ontario have purchased winter tires for their vehicles. Close to 90 per cent of members who own winter tires, have them installed between late October to late November.

CAA SCO winter checklist:

  • Test your battery and replace it before it fails.
  • Have your brakes checked and/or serviced.
  • Install a set of four matching winter tires for better traction.
  • Check your lights to ensure they are working properly.
  • Replace worn or torn windshield wipers.
  • Pack a winter emergency kit.

Getting a grip on winter tires:

  • Winter tires help reduce braking distance on cold, wet, ice and snow-covered roads.
  • Depending on the speed and the weather, the braking distance of winter tires can be up to 25 per cent shorter or two vehicle lengths compared to all-season tires.
  • Winter tires contain silica, a rubber compound that keeps tires flexible in cold temperatures and ensures excellent grip and braking on wet roads.
  • Winter tires should only be installed in sets of four. With only two winter tires, your vehicle’s handling, stability and braking are not fully optimized.
  • CAA Insurance policyholders save 5 per cent on their auto insurance premium when four winter tires are installed.
  • Drivers should check their tire pressure once a month. As the temperature drops so too does tire pressure. For every 5°C dip in the thermometer your tire pressure decreases 1 pound per square inch which results in reduced handling and control of your vehicle.

On an average winter day, CAA SCO dispatches service to approximately 3,000 members. During a snowstorm, the number of service calls usually doubles

About CAA South Central Ontario
For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, travel, insurance services and Member savings for our over 2 million Members.

SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario

It’s Still Driveable

Sick CarI saw many things over the two decades that I spent in full time traffic law enforcement. Some of those things left me shaking my head wondering why the driver ever chose to leave the driveway! If you don’t value the life of other road users, surely you value your own.

During an evening shift I was met by a car whose driver failed to dim the headlights. A glance in the mirror as I passed by also revealed a lack of rear lights. After stopping the driver and examining the vehicle I determined that the headlights only worked on high beam and none of the rear lights worked at all.

The car had been involved in a rear end collision and the driver was waiting for ICBC to fix it. It was their only vehicle and the family was returning from a non-essential trip that involved a 4 hour drive each way. At that time of year there were about 8 hours of daylight, so the outing could not have been conducted exclusively during the daylight.

I would often meet the commercial vehicle inspector and we would work together at a brake check location. An examination of a farm truck determined that only one it’s air brakes was properly adjusted. The driver was ticketed and ordered to adjust his brakes properly before proceeding.

He stomped away but soon returned. He did not have the necessary wrench to adjust the brakes with. Would one of the truckers who had stopped to check their brakes loan one to him?

After another ten minutes or so had passed, the driver was back again. Which way do you turn the brake adjuster was the question this time. The trucker who loaned him the wrench rolled his eyes, took him in hand and showed him how to adjust his brakes too.

Speeding on it’s own can be bad enough, but throw in willful blindness and the results could be tragic. One such driver earned a tow truck ride home. When he was producing his documents to me a scan of the vehicle interior revealed that he had covered the brake warning light on his dash with black electrical tape. The light was too bright when he drove at night he explained to me.

Checking the tire tread when approaching a vehicle became almost a reflex action for me. The tread wear bars that tires are equipped with these days mean that I don’t even have to use a tread depth gauge when winter tires are not required. If they are showing in two adjacent grooves, the tire is considered to be worn out.

Occasionally I would discover a vehicle with a wheel alignment problem. The majority of the tire tread looked just fine, but one shoulder of the tire would be worn so badly that the cords were showing through the rubber. That’s definitely an out of service condition.

I actually met a graduate from the Red Green School of Mechanics one day. His windshield wipers had stopped working so he had tied a thin rope to the driver’s wiper, passed it through both vent windows to lay on the dash and then tied the other end to the passenger’s wiper. If it ever rained, he just had his passenger pull the rope to operate the wipers.

Do we even want to know what happened when it rained and he was alone?

My preferred method of dealing with drivers like these was the Notice & Order. There were three levels of action that could be chosen, depending on the severity of the defects found.

A #3 was the least intrusive. It simply asked that you repair the noted defects and advise the police you had done so.

The #2 had more teeth. The driver was required to take the vehicle to a Designated Inspection Facility promply and pass inspection within 30 days. If the pass was not obtained within that time, the vehicle could no longer be driven or parked on a highway.

A #1 was for the vehicles that were truly dangerous. From the moment it was issued until inspection was passed, the vehicle could not be driven or parked on a highway and had to be moved by tow truck or on a trailer.

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