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.

I’ll Drive if I Want to

Devil's HeadI watched a television news story about a traffic collision that interviewed family members exiting the courthouse. One of the people lamented that if the known bad driver had been prohibited from driving the whole incident that brought them there never would have happened. If only it were that simple, because a driver will only stop driving after being prohibited if they want to comply with the law.

My contact with a driver like this began when I stopped a business vehicle for speeding. The driver was the sole proprietor of the business and had been prohibited from driving for, you guessed it, too many speeding tickets. He explained to me that if he couldn’t drive, he couldn’t carry on his business and his family would be in trouble. I did feel sorry for his plight but dealt with him as the law required.

Fast forward a few weeks and I saw the same business vehicle in traffic again. Knowing the owner’s prohibited status I stopped it and found the same man behind the wheel. He was taking his son to the boy’s Little League baseball game. This was obviously a drive for pleasure and had nothing to do with earning money to support his family.

I’ve also had conversations with ICBC Driver Examiners in the past. Occasionally they would have a senior to re-examine and after a road test would fail the driver. Many of them would hand in their driver’s licence, return to their vehicle and drive home.

ICBC traffic ticket statistics show an average of about 2,400 driving while prohibited charges under the Motor Vehicle Act each year from 2014 to 2018. There were also about 310 criminal charges for driving while disqualified annually during that time frame.

In an attempt to make punishment immediate for drivers who drive without a licence or are prohibited from driving, the BC government created the Vehicle Impoundment Program in 2005. Police are required to impound vehicles when these drivers are found on our highways. This usually happens through Automated Licence Plate Recognition or because the driver commits a traffic rule offence.

There is a 7 day impoundment for the first infraction, a 30 day impoundment for a second infraction and a 60 day impoundment for a third or subsequent driving infraction within a two year period.

An unintended consequence of this program is the number of vehicles being abandoned in lieu of paying the accumulated towing and storage charges.

To make a long story short, this man is one of many drivers who will follow the traffic rules when they suit him and won’t when they do not. This sense of entitlement is visible on our highways every day. Unfortunately, the only way to stop some prohibited drivers from driving is to lock them up.

Reference Links:

Making a Driving Complaint to Police

 

Q&A ImageHave you ever felt upset enough about something that happened around you in traffic that you wanted to report it to the police? I’m sure that we’ve all felt that way at one time or another but haven’t followed through because we didn’t know if it was worthwhile or if anything would happen to the offending driver if we did. Here is what you need to know in order to make an effective driving complaint to police in BC.

Probably the single most important piece of information to gather is the license plate number of the offending vehicle. Write it down and keep the paper that you wrote it on to refer to later in court. At the very least, this is all that the police need to start an investigation with. Details of the who, what, where, when and why come next. The more you can recall and provide to the investigator the more likely that the investigation will result in charges against the offending driver. Like the license plate number, write these down at the first possible opportunity so that they will not be forgotten.

If the driving behaviour is serious and could result in immediate harm to others call 911 and make the report immediately. If this is not the case, a call to the police non-emergency number for the area the incident occurred in as soon as reasonably possible is sufficient. After you have provided the particulars of your case, ask for and record the file number of your complaint. All complaints are given a file number and this is what you will need if you follow up on your complaint at a later date.

There are three levels of involvement in a driving complaint. From least effective to most effective, they are:

  1. You report the incident as an anonymous complainant
  2. You report the incident, identify yourself, but decline to become involved any further.
  3. You report the incident, identify yourself and commit to attending court if necessary.

If you report as an anonymous complainant, all that the police can do is patrol the area of your complaint and react to something that they see the suspect vehicle do, if anything. This type of complaint is usually assigned a low priority.

If you identify yourself but decline a court appearance, the police can patrol for and try to intercept the vehicle as they would for an anonymous complaint. If it is found the driver can be advised of the complaint and cautioned about their driving. If the registered owner is not driving or the vehicle is not located, police may choose to send a cautionary letter to them advising how their vehicle was being used and leaving it up to them to deal with the driver.

If you identify yourself and commit to a court appearance if necessary, patrols will be made and an investigation started. You will be asked for a written statement of the details of the incident. This importance of this is twofold, the police have full details of the incident recorded and you have an accepted method of refreshing your memory for court purposes.

When I started an investigation like this, I would identify the registered owner of the offending vehicle and visit them personally. I would advise them that their vehicle had been involved in a breach of the Motor Vehicle Act and require them to identify the driver to me. Failing to do this is an offence, even if it is the registered owner who was driving at the time. I now had a driver I could deal with directly or I could charge the registered owner for the original offence and failing to identify the driver.

My next step was to speak with the driver. I would outline the complaint to them, advise them that they did not have to say anything in response, but if they chose to explain I would listen and possibly choose to use the explanation in court if it came to that point. At this point in the investigation, I now had to decide on the success of a prosecution if I charged the offending driver. If there was a substantial possibility of conviction I would charge (usually by way of a violation ticket). If not, I would caution the driver if it was appropriate.

In either case, I would then call the complainant back and tell them what had occurred.

If the offending driver was charged it did not always result in a dispute and court appearance for the complainant. These incidents usually involved driving behaviour that was significantly out of the ordinary and many of the tickets were paid or ignored and subsequently deemed convicted when 30 days had passed from the date of issue.

When the ticket is disputed, you can at the very least expect a telephone call from the investigator telling you when and where the dispute will be held if you don’t receive a paper subpoena. Take your notes with you on the court day and be a few minutes early to deal with parking, finding the courtroom and speaking with the investigator who will most likely also be the prosecutor. When the case is called, you will be asked to recount the incident to the court, and then answer any questions from the prosecutor and then the accused or their lawyer.

That’s all there is to it. Even though the formal atmosphere of the court can be intimidating, if you relax it is not an unpleasant experience. Once you have testified, you may sit in the court and watch the rest of the proceedings, including the court’s decision on the guilt of the offending driver. If they are convicted, you will know the penalty. If not, you.

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.

www.drivesmartbc.ca

Police focus on impaired drivers for August Traffic Safety Spotlight

Read more

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest