DriveSmartBC – We’ll See You When You Turn 80!

BC Driver's LicenceSometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver’s seat. Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills. Can’t or won’t follow the driving rules? Pay for a few penalty points and don’t worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.

Last week’s episode of Nova, Look Who’s Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles. One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.

Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver’s career. You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver. The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.

After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.

I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He’d driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all! The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver’s licence.

I’ve been driving for more than 40 years now and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in BC since I was 16. In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.

There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses? I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I’m going in as sharp a focus as I can.

Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver’s seat with a host of driving assists. Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.

After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.

So, if I keep my head down, don’t bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.

Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.

Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it’s users to carry on without training updates and testing? We’ll see you when I turn 80!

#DriveSmartBC – Producing Your Driver’s Licence

“I’ve got 24 hours to produce it, don’t I?” and “It doesn’t matter, I know my licence number.” had to be the two most common responses I received when I stopped someone that wasn’t carrying their driver’s licence with them. Yes, you may know the number, but if my past experience is any indication, most of you don’t know a lot of the other details such as class, expiry date, restrictions or even your security keyword!

“So what?” you say, “You can look it up.” Yes, I was able look it up if the system was working, but how could I be sure that it was really you, especially since the police don’t have access to driver’s licence pictures on the computers in their cars. Add the fact that your friends may have a similar physical description and may also know your licence number and it begins to really get interesting.

Occasionally your “friend” would try to convince me that they were you when I had my pen poised over my ticket book. Often they were unlicenced, prohibited from driving or would be if they were convicted of the offence I was preparing to write. Why not avoid the whole mess and personate you? I wouldn’t know I was issuing the ticket to the wrong person.

The courts have held that it is permissable to take a photo as a part of police notes when investigating an incident. I took advantage of this whenever a driver did not produce their licence. I would ask them to step to the back of their vehicle, stand to the side of the licence plate and take a shot of them, the vehicle and the plate.

If the driver was reluctant to have their photo taken, this was a sign to me that chances were very good that they were not who they said they were. I would take extra care to make sure that I satisified myself that I was dealing with the right person.

Usually the first time you found out about a successful deception was when you tried to renew your driver’s licence. The agent at the Driver Service Center gave you two options: pay for all these tickets you had never received and renew or refuse to pay and don’t renew. Not renewing meant that you couldn’t legally drive until the whole matter was resolved and that often took a month or more.

It is also possible that if the person masquerading as you accumulates a large number of tickets, you could find yourself being prohibited from driving. The could occur either by receiving notice in the mail from RoadSafetyBC or at the roadside if you are stopped by the police.

Today you can easily keep track of suspicious entries on your driving history. ICBC provides your driving record on line where you can check for drivingconvictions that are not yours prior to renewal.

In British Columbia when the police demand your driver’s licence you are legally obligated to immediately hand it over and allow the officer to take it in hand. If requested, you are also required to verbally state your name and current residential address. Doing so will avoid a failing to produce charge and likely significantly reduce the time that you are stopped at the roadside.

Carrying your driver’s licence could provide valuable information for rescue and medical personnel if you are involved in a collision and are unable to communicate.

With the wrong rubber on cold, wet, snowy or icy roads, you’re not only risking life and limb, you’re playing with financial fire, say experts.

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ICBC urges caution as pedestrian injuries nearly double

ICBC urges caution as pedestrian injuries nearly double

Almost double the number of pedestrians are injured in crashes from October to January as the weather changes and daylight hours decrease.*

That’s why today, ICBC is launching a pedestrian safety campaign with police and TransLink to urge pedestrians and drivers to stay safe as crashes with pedestrians spike at this time of year.

Pedestrian safety is a serious concern in B.C. – they’re the most vulnerable road user to be injured when a crash occurs. Drivers should take extra time to look for pedestrians before turning especially near transit stops, avoid distractions and be ready to yield.

Pedestrians can help stay safe by making eye contact, watching for drivers turning left or right at intersections, and using designated crosswalks.

ICBC, TransLink and community policing volunteers will be handing out reflectors and safety tips in high pedestrian traffic areas across the province to help pedestrians stay visible.

This year’s campaign features online advertising that reminds drivers: you see pedestrians when you really look for them.

Learn more with ICBC’s infographic and tips.

Quotes:

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“This is the time of year when police see an increasing number of crashes involving pedestrians. We all have a part to play to make our streets safer. Drivers should know that distracted driving and failing to stop for people walking at intersections are some of the top factors in crashes with pedestrians. Pedestrians also need to be careful and aware. We encourage them to take out their headphones and take a break from the phone when crossing the road. Reflective gear, particularly on anything moving such as arms and legs, helps pedestrians be far more visible to drivers.”

Derek Stewart, TransLink Director of Safety and Emergency Management

“Everyone needs to be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially at this time of year when daylight hours are decreasing and weather conditions are changing. Pedestrians should never assume that they can be seen, even when using a crosswalk. Step out onto the street only when there’s certainty that it’s safe to do so. It’s vital that we all work together to avoid accidents or injuries involving pedestrians.”

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

“Even when drivers proceed with caution, it’s hard to see pedestrians at this time of year when visibility is poor. Crashes with pedestrians are highest between 3pm and 6pm every day, when most of us are commuting home from school and work. Please focus on the road and leave your phone alone. It’s time we all do our part to create a safer driving culture in B.C.”

Regional statistics**:

  • In the Lower Mainland every year, on average, 2,300 crashes involve a pedestrian.

  • On Vancouver Island every year, on average, 390 crashes involve a pedestrian.

  • In the Southern Interior every year, on average, 280 crashes involve a pedestrian.

  • In the North Central region every year, on average, 87 crashes involve a pedestrian.


Editor’s note:
Pedestrian involved crash statistics for B.C. communities are available upon request.

*In B.C., 1,200 pedestrians are injured in crashes between October and January and 670 pedestrians are injured between May and August. ICBC data based on five year average from 2014 to 2018.

**ICBC data based on five-year average from 2014 to 2018.

Glaring Fog Lamps

glaring fog lampsOne of the most common complaints I hear that is not about a moving violation concerns the use or misuse of lights on vehicles. Here is one of them: “What is really starting to annoy myself and many others is people driving with their fog lights on during clear nights or even during the day. Is this not an infraction? These lamps are often unreasonably bright.”

I agree with this reader, I also find many fog lamps unreasonably bright, even during the daytime. What’s to be done about it? The following information may help you to use these lights effectively and avoid causing problems for others.

First, let’s be sure we are all on the same page. Fog lamps are identified by the SAE F marking on the lens, or a B above the circle with the E in it on European lamps. In B.C. you are allowed two fog lamps that emit either white or amber light. They must be mounted on the front of the vehicle, below the headlamps, but not more than 30 cm below. When you switch them on, the parking lamps, tail lamps, licence plate lamp and, if required, clearance lamps must also illuminate.

Fog lamps may be used in place of headlamps if atmospheric conditions make the use of headlamps disadvantageous. Otherwise, fog lamps may be used at any time of the day or night and in fact are used as the daytime running lamps on some vehicles.

Vehicle lighting at the time of a vehicle’s manufacture is regulated by Transport Canada. Specifically, Technical Standards Document 108, which details construction, performance and location of lamps and reflectors.

Here in British Columbia, lighting use and maintenance is regulated in Division 4 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations. Essentially, it requires that the lights and reflectors that a vehicle was manufactured with must still be there and function as originally intended. Dimming of headlights and the times that vehicle lights must be used are also set out here.

I suspect that the unreasonable brightness comes from improper aim. Fog lamps must be adjusted and aimed so that, at a distance of 8 m from the lamp, the centre of the beam is at least 10 cm below the height of the fog lamp. Oddly enough, there is no tolerance specified as too low but anything higher than horizontal is too high.

There are other reasons that could contribute to problems. The use of LED replacement bulbs in housings designed for filament bulbs is one of them, along with using higher wattage filament bulbs than is intended. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes an inspection and approval protocol for vehicle lighting to help inspection facilities decide what to pass.

It is a good guide to follow if you are considering making modifications to your vehicle’s lighting system.

Scott Marshall from Young Drivers of Canada has some good tips on using your vehicle’s lights and fog lights when the weather is bad in this video:

ICBC encourages drivers to be prepared for changing road conditions over the Thanksgiving long weekend

ICBC encourages drivers to be prepared for changing road conditions over the Thanksgiving long weekend

As British Columbians get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, ICBC is advising drivers that they may encounter challenging road conditions as they travel throughout the province.

The Thanksgiving long weekend has historically been one of the more dangerous long weekends on B.C. roads with an average of 2,200 crashes, nearly 700 people injured and four killed.*

It’s only a few weeks into fall and snow has already blanketed parts of B.C. As of October 1st, winter tires or chains are mandatory on many B.C. highways, including Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton, the Malahat portion of Highway 1 on Vancouver Island, and most highways throughout the southern interior and northern B.C.

Keep in mind the following tips to stay safe:

  • Plan your route ahead of time. Check weather and road conditions on drivebc.ca before you get behind the wheel. Take long weekend traffic into account and allow extra time to get to your destination.

  • Check your tires. Winter tires or chains are now required on many B.C. highways. Winter tires are labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M&S designation). Also, make sure your tires have adequate tread and are properly inflated.

  • Slow down on wet roads. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet, slippery roads or on roads covered in leaves. Keep in mind that posted speed limits are intended for ideal conditions.

  • Put your phone away. Focus on the road, minimize distractions and pay attention to your surroundings.

  • Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Daylight steadily decreases with each passing day in October and it can be difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists, especially around intersections.

Regional statistics:

  • About 520 people are injured in 1,400 crashes in the Lower Mainland over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 84 people are injured in 290 crashes on Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 58 people are injured in 300 crashes in the Southern Interior over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 19 people are injured in 140 crashes in North Central B.C. over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

*Thanksgiving weekend crashes are calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday. Crash and injury data is ICBC data (5-year average, 2014 – 2018). Fatality data is provided by police (5-year average, 2013-2017).

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