Headlight Systems can be Complex to Police

In my time as a driver I’ve seen headlight technology progress from tungsten filament glass sealed beams to quartz halogen, high intensity discharge and now LED and even laser. There is more light on the road today from the driver’s point of view than there has ever been. While that can be a good thing if all that light is coming from your vehicle, it might not be so great if you are the one facing it.

Way back when, sealed beams tended to be dimmer and more yellowish. They were not that bright in comparison to modern systems but a driver failing to dim them was more nuisance than hazard. It was also easy to overdrive their illumination.

Quartz halogen introduced a brighter, whiter light with a filament that would last longer too. Initially, they came in a sealed beam but progressed to a housing with a replaceable bulb.

The light that they emitted was more controlled and often had an obvious pattern. They could throw more light down the road on low beam and increase your margin of safety.

High intensity discharge (HID) lamps replace the tungsten filament with a tube of gas that glowed brightly when high voltage electricity was passed through it. These were efficient and could emit a lot of light in the visible part of the spectrum in comparison to filament bulbs.

HID does have drawbacks, emitting light that tends to be bluer which we may see as producing more glare. As they age, the light emitted tends to be even more blue.

LED is efficient and can be mechanically or digitally controlled to direct light where it is needed and changes can occur in milliseconds.

Laser headlights (currently high beam only) direct laser light onto a phosphor that then glows and is emitted by the headlight.

In North America the Society of Automotive Engineers sets the standards for vehicle lighting. The federal government incorporates these standards into the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and Regulations to control how the vehicles on our highways are built. British Columbia enacts provincial legislation to insure that lighting systems continue to be used and maintained to these standards.

Policing these rules can be complex. The tungsten sealed beam system was simple and from a policing point of view it was pretty much a working / not working determination.

Replaceable tungsten halogen bulbs started the requirement for police and facility vehicle inspectors to have more detailed knowledge. Over wattage bulbs, tinted lenses, or their replacement with either HID or LED assemblies that fit but were not designed to allow the housings that contained them to distribute their light properly became a common nuisance.

It is now simple to purchase all manner of lighting on line that is marked to masquerade as meeting standards or is not marked, much less meeting any standard at all.

There is no guarantee that any of these items will produce the proper light that you need to see with or won’t be dangerous for other drivers that you share the road with.

To counter this, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes an inspection and approval protocol for vehicle lighting. While this may be practical to use in a designated inspection facility it does serve to help police at the roadside determine that problems may exist. When there is a valid suspicion the most effective policing tool may be to order the vehicle to a designated inspection facility for closer scrutiny.

Are you sharing the road? Study finds most severe collisions involve pedestrians and cyclists

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Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Do you really need winter tires? It’s absolutely ‘crucial’, expert says

Every year when temperature starts the drop and snow starts to fall, the winter tires debate springs up. From questions about when to put them on, to discussions about their cost versus road safety, consensus on the winter tire argument never seems to happen.

Each province has varying regulations and recommendation for winter tires. In Quebec, according to the provincial Highway Safety Code, all drivers must have winter tires on from December 15 to March 15 inclusively. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to $300.

In Ontario, for example, there isn’t specific legislation around winter tires but you can save on your insurance premium if you use them. According to the Ontario Ministry of Financewinter tires that are in good condition can shorten braking distances by as much as 25 per cent.

Although regulations differ across the country, insurance companies and driving experts alike agree that putting winter tires on your car, no matter where you live Canada or the vehicle you drive, is imperative for winter road safety.

“Many people think winter tires are only important when driving in snowy or icy conditions but they also help with handling, maneuverability and braking in cold weather,” Kaitlynn Furse, public relations manager, CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) said in a statement.

According to Andrew Comrie-Picard, a BFGoodrich ambassador, professional racer driver and stunt driver for film and television shows such as Top Gear USA and NCIS New Orleans, it’s “crucial” that every driver uses winter tires in below freezing temperatures, even if you have an all-wheel drive of four-wheel drive vehicle.

“Any tire is developed and optimized for a certain type of service use, and the conditions that we see in Canada are some of the most extreme winter conditions in the whole world,” Comrie-Picard said. “In the winter, all an all-wheel drive car will do is get you to the accident faster because while four driving wheels help you accelerate forward, they don’t help you stop any faster.”

Despite expert, insurance and government commentary on the importance of winter tires, drivers still have doubts and criticism about these seasonal products.

Why you need them

The importance of winter tires comes down the tires’ ability to grip onto the road and perform at lower temperature, so you can brake and steer effectively in the winter season. Contrary to popular belief, the necessity of winter tires is related to temperature more so than precipitation.

Winter tires…are optimized to stay flexible, and to maintain the chemical and mechanical grip on the road at lower temperatures,” Comrie-Picard said. “[Winter tires] maintain their grip for breaking, for steering and also for accelerating in those low temperatures.”

How they’re different

Winter tires contain a special rubber compound that keeps tires soft. Due to their flexibility, winter tires are specifically manufactured to ensure that tread blocks retain their structure with the softer compound.

Winter tires also have small edges or cuts that act as pressurizers on the surface. They pick up a little bit of snow, which grips onto more snow that is on the road.

The mechanics of a winter tire might make sense, but the most popular complaint that drivers have is the cost of these specialty tires. 

Why the alternatives wont’ work

Since the cost of winter tires is so high, some drivers opt for used tires as a way to save a few dollars, but professionals like Comrie-Picard are strongly against it.

A used tire, by definition, is going to have less than brand new tread depth, you’re already compromising some traction and some safety,” Comrie-Picard said.

Young adults ‘putting themselves at fraud risk’ by sharing details online

Young adults ‘putting themselves at fraud risk’ by sharing details online

Irish Examinar

Young adults’ willingness to share personal information with others online could be putting them at greater risk of fraud, a report warns.

While older people are often seen as less tech-savvy, potentially putting them at greater risk of fraud, UK bank NatWest found that less cautious behaviour among those aged 18 to 24 years old in particular could be making them vulnerable.

NatWest, which commissioned think tank Policy Network to look into financial fraud trends, found more than 80% of young adults in this age group are willing to share their email address online with their friends, and as many as 29% are willing to share their mother’s maiden name – a commonly used security question.

This contrasts with just 60% of over-55s willing to share their email address, and only 12% willing to share their mother’s maiden name.

The report was launched at a fraud summit being held by NatWest.

David Lowe, NatWest’s head of fraud prevention, said traditionally the view has been that older people are most at risk of financial fraud.

He said: “Whilst fraud is still prevalent in this age category, we are seeing an increasing trend in younger ’digital natives’ falling victim to online fraud.”

Matthew Laza, director at Policy Network, said: “We need to ensure that today’s school children don’t become another ’generation scammed’.

“As more and more of life moves online this is a real danger for the future.”

Research for this report involved a review of available data on fraud and scams, analysis of YouGov survey data, and interviews with fraud experts.

Source: www.irishexaminer.com

 

#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).*

Facts:

  • 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 roadcrashvictims.ca

*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 Canadawww.ccmta.ca

SOURCE CANADIAN COUNCIL OF MOTOR TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATORS

Maintaining a Safe Following Distance

I 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.

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