B.C. pilot study to allow electric kick scooters to operate legally in six cities

VANCOUVER _ A newly approved pilot project will allow electric kick scooters to legally cruise the streets and bike paths of six British Columbia municipalities.

The Ministry of Transportation says in a statement the pilot project gives the province and the selected local governments a chance to assess the safety of electronic personal transportation.

The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act doesn’t allow transportation such as electric scooters on roads or sidewalks, but a 2019 amendment permits communities to work with the province on pilot projects.

The six participating municipalities where e-scooters will soon be legal are Kelowna, Vernon, Vancouver, West Vancouver and North Vancouver city and district.

Once those governments pass bylaws saying where the devices can be used, e-scooters will be treated like e-bikes, where a driver’s licence or insurance won’t be needed but riders must be at least 16, wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road.

Dates for the passage of local bylaws haven’t been set, but Mayor Kennedy Stewart says Vancouver aims to begin a trial of privately owned devices like e-scooters later this year.

Drinking and Driving Zero Tolerance

Keys and DrinkI wrote this article back in 2004. Since then the B.C. government has enacted the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program, reducing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for sanctions from 80 mg% to 50 mg%. In addition, the federal government implemented mandatory alcohol screening for any driver in December 2018.

The IRP is much easier for police to administer and I suspect that caused a significant drop in the number of criminal code impaired driving charges.

There have been 7,405 IRPs issued in B.C. between January and July, 2020 and ICBC reports that impaired driving is a factor in between 20 and 25% of collisions.

In 2004 I observed that using alcohol helps drivers make poor decisions. Of course, the decision of importance to us all is “do I drive, or have I had too much?” This is a decision that should be simple, if you drink don’t drive, and the law should reinforce that.

The Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) for new drivers requires exactly that, a zero BAC. If you drive after consuming any alcohol, you will be prohibited from driving for 12 hours if caught. Should your BAC be over 50 mg% you will be treated like all other drivers and once this information reaches the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, GLP drivers can expect to receive another prohibition.

It is past time to extend the GLP rules to all drivers. This will help eliminate the possibility of a bad decision because it would now be “I had a drink, I can’t drive” instead of “do I drive, or have I had too much?”

Perhaps there should be a traffic ticket, complete with penalty points, for driving with a measurable BAC before the 50 mg% threshold is reached. Currently a non-GLP driver faces no sanction at all until their BAC reaches 50 mg%.

Is a driver traveling at 20 km/h over the speed limit a greater risk than a driver with a BAC of 40 mg%? The University of Michigan Health suggests that having a 20 mg% BAC will result in a decline in visual function, the inability to perform two tasks at the same time, a loss of judgment and altered mood.

The speeder gets a ticket and the 40 mg% driver goes free today unless their impairment causes them to violate a driving rule. In that case, they would be ticketed for the rule violation.

Ignition interlock devices could be mandatory equipment for new vehicles and some countries are currently considering requiring auto makers to do this. An Australian cost-benefit analysis found the following:

Overall, it was concluded that due to the investigated interlock’s user friendliness and relative affordability in comparison to other interlocks, the device should be considered as a countermeasure for curbing the drink driving problem in Australia.

If you are concerned about impaired driving, please support your local anti drinking and driving public interest group such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Together we can make a difference!

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 for 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.

#DriveSmartBC

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

This year’s holiday CounterAttack campaign is kicking off this weekend with police roadchecks set up across the province. ICBC and police are urging drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to get home safely this holiday season.

Although COVID-19 has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the law – if you plan to drink, don’t drive.

“We know celebrations will look different this holiday season,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president of public affairs and driver licensing. “If you’ve been drinking at home, please stay home and don’t drive. When you drink and drive, you not only risk your life but those of others on the road. We all need to do our part to prevent crashes and save lives. If you plan to drink, plan ahead.”

Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 67 lives lost every year in B.C. More than half of impaired-related crashes (56 per cent) occur on the weekend (Friday to Sunday).

“We fully support our road safety partners and the CounterAttack campaign and will be out in force over the holiday season to deter impaired driving,” said Superintendent Holly Turton, vice-chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will utilize mandatory alcohol screening, Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Experts to identify and remove alcohol and drug affected drivers from our roads to make BC’s roads some of the safest in the world.”

For more than 40 years, ICBC has implemented impaired driving education campaigns and funded CounterAttack enhanced police enforcement.

ICBC leads two impaired driving education campaigns every year. Learn more facts and tips in ICBC’s infographic.​

Statistics:*

  • On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on Vancouver Island every year.

  • On average, 23 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Southern Interior every year.

  • On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in North Central B.C. every year.

Editor’s notes:

  • Several police detachments throughout B.C. will invite media to attend CounterAttack roadchecks in their communities during a one-day blitz on December 5.

  • B-roll footage of a CounterAttack roadcheck is available for download.

Notes about the data:

*Fatal victim counts from police data based on five-year average from 2015 to 2019. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.

ICBC and police ask drivers to leave their phone alone

ICBC and police ask drivers to leave their phone alone

More than one in four fatal crashes on B.C. roads involve distracted driving, which is why police and ICBC continue to combat this dangerous driving behaviour that claims 76 lives each year.*

Since B.C.’s distracted driving law came into effect in January 2010, more than 430,000 infractions have been issued to drivers for using an electronic device while driving. Some drivers didn’t get the message the first time, as between January 2010 and March 2020:

  • 44,000 drivers have received two tickets for distracted driving

  • 12,000 have received three tickets

  • 4,200 have received four tickets

  • 65 drivers have received 10 tickets

This month, drivers will be hearing one message – leave your phone alone when you’re behind the wheel.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement during September, and community volunteers are setting up Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to leave their phone alone. The campaign also features new digital and radio advertising.

Drivers can do their part by avoiding distractions while driving and encouraging others to do the same. Activate Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature or what’s similarly available on other devices.

You can get tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“Distracted driving continues to be the number one cause of police-reported crashes in British Columbia. If your eyes aren’t on the road, and you are not fully focused on driving, you are distracted. Every second counts when you are behind the wheel, and being distracted for just a second could be the difference between life and death. Police are passionate about making our roads safer, and the distracted driving campaign is an excellent way to educate the community on the risks associated with distracted driving.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs & Driver Licensing

“Using electronic devices, like smartphones, is one of the most common and riskiest forms of distracted driving. Even short glances away from the road increases your risk of crashing. Safer roads start with every driver making a conscious decision to focus on the road and leave their phones alone. Let’s all do our part to create a safer driving culture in B.C.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Every year, on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, nine people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 29 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2014 to 2018. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Harvest season and traffic safety – let’s look out for our farmers

Harvest season and traffic safety – let’s look out for our farmers

Harvest is either underway or just on the horizon for many farmers in the province – and that means drivers may be seeing more farm equipment on Saskatchewan highways in the coming weeks.

Although collisions with farm equipment are rare, now is the time of year that they are most likely to happen.

Yes, you may be hitting the road to make the most of these last few weeks of warm and sunny weather. While many of us are enjoying summer, our agricultural producers are working hard to get their crops off the field. The work farmers do puts food on our tables and contributes to the provincial economy. And they need everyone’s help to keep safe.

Some things to keep in mind when driving around farm equipment:

Be patient – farm equipment is very slow-moving. If you find yourself behind a big piece of machinery – be patient, and pass when it is safe to do so.

Again, be patient – Farmers are usually only transporting their machinery from one field to another, so they won’t be on the road for long. Even if you don’t get an opportunity to pass safely, you won’t be behind them for a long distance

Give yourself some space – farm equipment can be wider or longer than sometimes expected. Make sure to give yourself plenty of room to pass and pull back into the lane safely.

And give the farmer some space too – The operator of the farm equipment has plenty of blind spots, and may not be able to see you if you’re following too closely behind or cut in front of them. When everyone can see each other on the road, we’re all safer.

Stay alert – Depending on the farm equipment, the farmer may not be able to signal their intent to turn or slow down. Anticipate sudden movements, and keep your focus on the road.

Bonus tip: Farmers will also take steps to ensure their safety and yours. Equipment that travels slower than 40 km/h, must be equipped with a rear/center slow-moving-vehicle sign, and machinery that extends more than 1.2 meters should be equipped with reflective devices to alert drivers.

www.sgi.sk.ca / www.sgicanada.ca

 

Winnipeg company hopes near-miss monitoring will prevent traffic fatalities

The excerpted article was written by JAMES SNELL | Winnipeg Sun

Winnipeg-based engineering startup MicroTraffic has launched a grant funding program in partnership with Aviva Canada insurance to help Canadian cities improve road safety.

MicroTraffic uses artificial intelligence technology and existing traffic cameras to automatically detect and trace vehicle speeds, pedestrians, and bicycles to identify near misses. If the system detects that near misses are unusually high for a particular road or pedestrian crossing, municipalities can use data to change signal timing, add signs, or even reconfigure the layout of an intersection.

Craig Milligan, CEO and co-founder of MicroTraffic, said on Monday that providing traffic analysts information based on serious near-misses means the company can tell them where and how the next fatalities are likely to happen.

“This really is a game-changer for cities, so we’re encouraging all municipalities and provincial road authority departments to apply so we can work with them to make their local roads safer,” he explained.

Milligan said the Aviva partnership could mean great things for company expansion, adding the program allows cities to try the technology on a risk-reduced basis.

“We have a 22 person team of artificial intelligence scientists, data scientists and road safety engineers,” he said. “Every startup dreams of going public (on a stock exchange) but we have a lot of work to do to build the company right now.”

The company said in a news release that almost eight in 10 road fatalities happen where no fatalities had occurred previously, adding only historical crash data that involves a fatality — not near misses — is currently being used to change road infrastructure in many cities.

To date, 40 governmental departments and agencies in North America — including in the Greater Toronto Area, Los Angeles, Austin, Detroit, New Jersey, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton have programmed over $200 million of road safety improvements using MicroTraffic’s diagnostic technology.

The grant program, which is financed by Aviva, is open to traffic safety and road management agencies until Sept. 8. Applicants must be from cities with 100,000 or more people in order to be eligible for the program. Up to five cities — 10 intersections per city — will be selected.

Grant decisions will be based on the needs of each city and their commitment to road safety and collaboration.

Selected agencies are expected to pay 25% of the costs up to maximum of $12,500.

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