SGI: Speeding and work zones – Here’s what you need to know

SGI: Speeding and work zones – Here’s what you need to know

Did you know that driving 100km/h past an emergency vehicle with lights flashing results in a $570 ticket and 3 demerits?

Many drivers go over the speed limit or drive too fast for conditions. Driving at an unsafe speed can greatly increase the severity of a crash; the faster your vehicle is moving, the less time you have to react to a potential hazard and for other drivers to react to you.

Higher speeds also increase the risk of a serious injury or death. For example:

  • The chance of being killed in a collision at 80 km/h is 2 times higher than if you were travelling at 64 km/h.
  • When a vehicle crashes at a speed above 80 km/h, the chance of death is more than 50%.
  • In most cases, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at 40 km/h or less survive, but will die if hit by a vehicle travelling at 60 km/h or more.

Reaction time and stopping

Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react and your control over the vehicle increasing both the risk and severity of a crash.

The average reaction time — the time it takes to determine that a crash may occur, decide what to do and then do it — is 1.5 seconds. You need to give yourself enough time for a quick response and decisive action.

By reducing your speed, you give yourself more ways to find an alternative course of action and more time to react to avoid a potential collision. Even driving 10 km/h slower can make the difference between a close call and a fatal collision.

Stopping distance

Speeding also significantly increases the stopping distance of a vehicle. As your speed doubles, your stopping distance increases 4 times. If your speed triples, your stopping distance increases 9 times.

Posted speed limit and road conditions

The posted speed limit is the recommended speed for ideal weather conditions.

Reduce your speed if the road is:

  • wet
  • snowy
  • icy
  • covered by fog
  • hard to see because of blowing snow

Work zones

Highway work zones

Work zones are usually clearly marked, with orange signs to show you’re entering a highway construction area and black and white signs showing the reduced speed limit. To keep everyone safe, be patient and follow the direction of the signs in the work zone. For more information about work zones, visit the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure. If you have questions about the setup of a particular work zone, call 306-244-5535.

Municipal roads and urban work zones

Work zone signs on municipal roads and in urban areas may differ from highway work zones. You’re still required to slow to 60 km/h or the speed that’s posted when you enter the work area and follow the directions of all signs in the zone.

You also must slow to 60 km/h when:

  • approaching a law enforcement vehicle or emergency vehicle when stopped at the side of the road with its lights flashing
  • passing Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure machinery or equipment when stopped at the side of the road with its lights flashing
  • passing a tow or service truck with its amber and/or blue beacon flashing while it’s assisting a vehicle

Fines and charges

For details on speeding fines and charges, visit the Speeding penalties page.

Source: www.sgi.sk.ca

Measuring Vehicle Speed with Radar

 

RadarDespite the fact that it is older technology, radar is still frequently used by police to measure vehicle speeds today. When used properly, it is an accurate method of determining how fast a vehicle is traveling. The courts also accept qualified radar evidence of speed during a trial as commonplace.

When I was trained to use radar to measure traffic speed it was a one day long course. We were taught the basic theory of operation including an explanation of the Doppler Effect which is the basis for the device. A written test followed to insure we understood what had been taught. Finally, we all went to the side of the road where we were given a chance to make some measurements under the watchful eye of an experienced officer.

I typically started my traffic enforcement shift by testing my radar and recording the results of the test in my notebook. These tests vary a little depending on the manufacturer and type of radar in use, but it usually consists of a power on self test or an internal test initiated by pushing a button, a phase where all indicators and display segments were lit simultaneously to show they were functioning and a tuning fork test.

Tuning forks substituted for the moving vehicle. The fork was struck to make it vibrate and then held in front of the radar antenna. This would produce a specific reading on the radar display.

If and only if all of these tests were passed was the radar considered ready for use. If there was a failure the unit was taken out of service and sent for repair.

During some 28 years of operating traffic radar I can only recall one instance when the radar failed to operate correctly and it was immediately apparent to me.

A typical investigation involving radar to measure vehicle speed begins not with the instrument, but with the officer’s eyes. A visual observation of the target is made and a speed estimation developed. Some officers become quite accurate in making this estimation after years of practice with the instrument.

Following the estimate, a measurement of the vehicle speed is made with the radar. The officer compares the estimate with the measurement to insure that the two reasonably coincide. If they do, the offending driver is stopped and ticketed. If they don’t, further observation and measurement is required.

Should the visual estimate and radar measurement never reasonably compare, a ticket based on the radar evidence cannot be written.

A radar beam is similar to a flashlight beam. It begins relatively narrow but widens as you move away from the antenna. Ideally, only the target vehicle should be in the radar beam at the time of the speed measurement, but this is not always possible. In this case, careful observation and measurement may still result in an accurate measurement and confidence in which vehicle is producing the speed reading.

Radar measurements also suffer from what is known as cosine error. If the vehicle being measured is moving directly toward the antenna, a true speed will be detected. If the vehicle is moving at an angle to the beam, a lower than true speed will be read depending on the cosine of the angle.

The benefit goes to the driver with stationary radar operations.

The cosine error is critical with moving radar as it affects the patrol vehicle speed reading which is used to calculate the violator’s speed from the closing rate of speed. The officer must compare the patrol vehicle speed to the speedometer when making a measurement. If the two are not the same, a higher than true speed will be displayed.

If all of this adds up, the speed investigation is complete and the officer can decide on what, if any, action to take.

The final step in my daily patrol after parking in the detachment lot was to test the radar again and record the results in my notebook.

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

Do We Really Want Safe Roads?

Ticket WriterAccording to media reports some drivers are taking advantage of the current light traffic conditions to behave badly. When stopped by police and ticketed for their actions the latest response is “Why aren’t you fighting the epidemic instead of writing tickets?” I have it on good authority that you are more likely to die in a traffic collision than you are from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

We have quickly taken extraordinary measures, including spending huge sums of money and drastically changing our everyday behaviour to prevent deaths due to the epidemic. Overt displays of disapproval from the majority toward the minority who do not conform to our new reality are commonplace.

Why is this not also commonplace with respect to unsafe road users? Do we really want safe roads?

British Columbia does have a Road Safety Strategy. Take a look at that web page. It appears that the strategy was last updated in 2016.

At the bottom of the page is information on a BC Communities Road Safety Survey conducted by RoadSafetyBC. 81 of 189 municipalities responded to the survey and all of them said that road safety was a priority in their communities. Overall, those responses indicate that organized programs, stakeholder consultation and the use of data for guidance was rare.

Fast forward five years and nothing has been done to check and see if there has been any improvement. This despite the provincial government having transferred significant amounts of money to municipalities for public safety use under the Traffic Fine Revenue Grant program.

Efficiencies in traffic enforcement were heralded in 2012’s Bill 52 that was supposed to replace ticket disputes in traffic court with an administrative tribunal. This would exchange the time officers spent in court for more time on the road improving safety. This is still “over the horizon” for implementation when I last inquired.

Speaking of traffic court, I attended as a spectator last month. There was a lot of deal making between the officer and the disputant prior to trial. Many tickets were resolved by a guilty plea as the vehicle’s registered owner instead of the driver. This means the driver did not receive penalty points or a driving record entry for the violation.

The latest version of the Intersection Safety Camera Program has also removed the owner’s ability to nominate the driver. Under this program no one receives penalty points for behaviours that contribute to over 50% of collisions in B.C.

With a little planning and luck, one could rack up a few violations yet maintain a clean driving record and stay invisible to ICBC and RoadSafetyBC.

July 1, 2008 saw the requirement to report collisions to the police dropped from the Motor Vehicle Act. In March last year police were no longer required to report a crash to ICBC if they investigated one unless the damage exceeded $10,000 or involved injury or death.

How accurate are today’s collision statistics, particularly those for distracted driving? If I failed to see a vehicle stopped in front of me and rear ended it, do you think that I’m going to tell ICBC that I was busy using my cellphone at the time?

My final observation is the cost of insurance for new drivers. $4,000 a year is unacceptable for an ICBC premium, yet that is the equivalent of what I paid when I bought my first car, a used Cutlass Salon. Hardly in the same class as a Camaro or Firebird.

Commentary driving is a very useful tool for teaching a new driver

New Driver SignsCommentary driving is a very useful tool for teaching a new driver. It involves narrating their observations, interpretations and intentions about the traffic situation as they drive. This narrative is expected to take place before the fact and gives the instructor or examiner insight into what the driver is seeing (or not seeing) and how they intend to proceed.

These comments do not need to be made using complete sentences as long as the thought is properly conveyed. The driver should describe everything important that he sees ahead, to the sides, and in the rear view mirrors. When there is time, he should announce the various alternatives possible and why his choice of action is best. Comments should include remarks about signs, signals, markings, hazardous situations, actions or expected actions of other road users.

From the student’s point of view commentary driving assists with:

  • Building an awareness of the amount of information that a driver must process
  • Developing resistance to distraction
  • Refining judgment about how far ahead to watch and how quickly to act or react
  • Developing selective observation strategies

Benefits for the parent or instructor include the ability to assess:

  • Is the driver scanning effectively?
  • Are hazardous situations recognized early enough?
  • Does the driver follow the traffic laws and maintain proper space margins?
  • What is the driver missing that you need to train or retrain?

The current ICBC Class 5 road test requires a demonstration of commentary driving.

If you have never done this before, it is not as simple as you might think. Remember the cognitive overload when you were first learning to drive? Introduce it after your student driver has had a chance to become somewhat familiar with operating the vehicle.

A parent should practice this before becoming the instructor as it is a valuable teaching tool. Demonstrate to the hopeful new driver how she must use her eyes, what she must see, how to interpret it, and when to act in a safe and efficient manner.

The parent will also benefit as it focuses awareness and concentration on the driving task. It may be a good personal strategy to use when you are not feeling alert or are becoming fatigued.

Video Resources:

This 13 minute video by Rick August of Smart Drive Test outlines how a new driver may learn even faster by talking to themselves while they’re driving and doing the manoeuvres and skills required to pass a road test.

 

This 10 minute video by Ian Fido of Sheffield Driving School in the UK explains anticipation and planning with commentary driving:

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

#DriveSmartBC: Perpetuating Mediocrity

New Driver SignsI once stopped a vehicle being driven at 96 km/h in a posted 50 km/h construction zone. Approaching the passenger side, I spoke with the woman in the front seat and the young lady driving. When I explained why I stopped them, the woman suggested that she was unable to get the driver to slow down, and maybe I could do something about it.

The driver produced a learner driver’s license and no L sign was displayed on the vehicle.

To me, the solution was simple. The woman should have denied her daughter access to the vehicle unless she was willing to follow the traffic rules. The conversation told me that this was a known issue rather than a one time lapse on the part of the driver.

After they had departed and I sat doing the notes for the violation ticket I had issued, I wondered to myself if maybe it wasn’t so simple. Perhaps this woman should not have been given the privilege of teaching her daughter to drive. If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary to drive correctly and safely.

Do parents read the Tuning Up for Drivers guide that their teen receives in the package with their new learner’s licence? The book contains 20 lessons to prepare for the class 7 road test presented in order for good skill development.

We all tend to think that we are better than average drivers, but I occasionally find myself in conversations with parents who tell me that their teen taught them about things that they were doing wrong when driving.

Yes, ICBC does test the new driver to see if they meet standards as they progress through the Graduated Licensing Program. These standards are much more stringent than they were when I took my driver’s test 30 years ago. The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

Perhaps this young lady would be better off taking the complete GLP package at a driving school. She will receive instruction in both the mechanics and the ethics of being a good driver that she might not be getting at home.

Currently Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan require a new driver to take formal training in order to get a full privilege driver’s licence. Given the level of complexity facing a learner driver today presented by both the vehicle and the driving environment, perhaps formal training should be mandatory in all provinces.

Resource Links:

Regulatory and Advisory Signs

Speed SignDrivers are often confused about the difference between a regulatory sign and an advisory sign. A regulatory sign generally has black characters or symbols on a white background and an advisory sign has black characters or symbols on a yellow background. So, what’s the difference?

The regulatory sign must be obeyed exactly as it is read. Examples of regulatory signs include speed limits, turn restrictions, parking restrictions and directional instructions. Failure to obey these signs is an offence and the driver may be charged if they choose not to follow the instruction.

If there is not a specific offence such as speeding or failing to stop for the regulatory sign, a traffic ticket for disobeying a traffic control device may be issued to the driver.

An advisory sign gives advance notice of conditions on or adjacent to a highway that are potentially hazardous to traffic. A driver may choose whether or not to follow the suggestion given by the sign. Ignoring the advice is not an offence in itself, but anything that happens because the signs are not given consideration may be an offence.

A common advisory sign is the large diamond shaped sign shows a black arrow on a yellow background telling drivers of a curve ahead. Underneath it is a smaller square sign with black lettering on a yellow background showing a speed of 30 km/h.

The example of the curve was chosen to illustrate a point. We have often seen these signs and then travelled around the curve comfortably at speeds higher than that suggested. In those cases the shape of the curve and the road condition could accommodate the vehicle travelling at the higher speed.

So why was the speed warning there? Often it is because the driver’s line of sight is restricted. This would prevent the driver from seeing and reacting to a hazard in or just beyond the corner unless the speed was at or less than that suggested. Heavy trucks may also be required to slow for the corner to prevent tipping over.

A relatively new (since 2012) advisory sign is black on a pink background. These signs warn of an emergency incident ahead and tell drivers to expect responders on the roadway. Proceed with caution as full temporary traffic control may not yet have been established.

Failure to obey an advisory sign is only an offence if something happens as a result of ignoring the advice and the offence is generally for the misadventure that occurs.

Need a quick brush up on what road signs mean? Drop by your local Driver Service Center (where you renew your driver’s licence) and ask for a free copy of Learn to Drive Smart. The signs, signals and road markings are explained in Chapter 3.

Reference Links:

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