Police focus on impaired drivers for August Traffic Safety Spotlight
This B.C. Day long weekend, our roads will be busy with some British Columbians choosing to travel throughout the province for a getaway and others visiting local parks and restaurants. No matter what your plans are, if you plan to drink, don’t drive.
Police will be setting up CounterAttack roadchecks across the province to get impaired drivers off our roads. If you’re caught driving impaired, you could end up paying in a number of lasting ways – from increased insurance premiums to fines, car impoundment or even jail time.
On average, four people are killed and 620 people injured in 2,200 crashes across the province over the B.C. long weekend.*
5 ways to stay safe on your road trip:
If you’re away from home, you may not be familiar with all of the options available to get home safely after you’ve had a few drinks. Check your options such as taxis, ride sharing, transit or shuttle services before you head out and save the information into your cell phone so you can relax knowing you have a plan to get home safely.
Most crashes on B.C. Day long weekend occur on Friday so plan to leave on Thursday or Saturday morning if possible to avoid traffic congestion and possible delays. You should also make sure you get a good night’s sleep to avoid getting fatigued behind the wheel. Plan your route on drivebc.ca and include rest breaks or switch drivers every two hours.
Do a pre-trip check and check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off.
Summer means more motorcyclists on our roads so it’s vital to scan as you approach an intersection. Be ready to yield the right-of-way when turning left and keep in mind that it can be hard to tell how fast motorcyclists are travelling.
Be patient with R.V. drivers if they’re travelling below the speed limit in mountainous areas as they’re likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV this weekend, be courteous and pull over when it’s safe to do so to let others by. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.
Over the B.C. day long weekend, on average, 420 people are injured in 1,400 crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.
Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 94 people are injured in 380 crashes in the Southern Interior every year.
Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 26 people are injured in 130 crashes in North Central B.C. every year.
Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 75 people are injured in 330 crashes on Vancouver Island every year.
* Five-year annual average. Crash and injury data is ICBC data (2015 to 2019). Fatality data is police data (2014 to 2018). B.C. Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to B.C. Day to midnight on B.C. Day.
One sure sign of growing up when we were young was the ability to use our crayons and colour between the lines. An important skill for a “grown-up” driver is also the ability to stay between the lines. Judging by the e-mails that I continually receive from readers who state that this is their main pet peeve, there is a sizable number of drivers out there who need to do a bit more skill improvement.
Staying centered in your lane is not difficult. Here’s a beginner’s tip from the Tuning Up Guide:
The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task. The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.
If you haven’t been on the inside of a curve lately and met an oncoming driver part way over the center line into your lane, a quick look at the lines painted on the road will tell you that many tires have passed over the paint and worn it away.
It shouldn’t matter if you cross over the lines when no one is coming should it? Well, it’s both illegal in that situation and will end up in a collision the first time you fail to see the oncoming vehicle. It will be really interesting if that driver is doing the same thing!
Perhaps more common still is the encroachment onto the shoulder when drivers go around a corner. This territory is the domain of pedestrians and cyclists, your vehicle does not belong there. It’s hardly likely that you would be injured or killed in a collision here but the same cannot be said for the unprotected shoulder users.
Should vehicles have to become smarter than their drivers? Your next new vehicle may have lane keeping assist to help you stay where you are supposed to be.
One side effect of this safety feature will be enforcement of signalling lane changes. If you fail to signal your lane change, the system will see this as a drift to one side and will take action to alert you.
Here in Canada, winter snow hides the lines on the road. Unless it is unsafe to do, your guide is the tire tracks left by the vehicles that have already been driven there.
So, show a little pride in your ability to be a mature, skillful driver. Keep your vehicle inside that 3.6 meter wide space between the lines. This will also show your respect for other road users and help to keep them safe. If you cannot, it’s time to put your crayons back in the box and let someone else do the driving.
- Section 150 MVA – Driver on Right
- Section 151 MVA – Driving on Laned Roadway
- Section 155 MVA – Highway Lines
- ICBC – Signs, Signals and Road Markings
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.
You wouldn’t think the COVID-19 pandemic would have much of an impact on motor vehicle accidents given the stay-an-home measures being suggested across the province. However, the combination of warmer weather and loosening restrictions may have the opposite affect according to a motor vehicle accident personal injury lawyer.
“There are currently less people on the road,” suggests personal injury and disability lawyer Robert Deutschmann. “But as things open up, I think the general thought is that fewer people might want to take transit because of physical distancing. That might mean more people cycling or driving motor vehicles which means more traffic.”
Warm weather and a desire to isolate while on the road is also a catalyst for motorcycle riders to roll out their machines. Predictably, accidents involving motorcycles are already on the rise, with five motorcyclists killed in Ontario over the Victoria Day weekend. Surprisingly, the founder of Deutschmann Law says that motorcycle riders are not usually the ones to blame.
“People have the perception of motorcycle riders to be reckless, but most of them aren’t,” said Deutschmann, who’s firm has been providing personal injury law services in the area for over 25 years. “Most are middle age or upper age people who just want to enjoy the road. The problem is, much like bike riders, motorcycle riders or pedestrians, people driving cars are sometimes inattentive. Stats show almost two-thirds of accidents involving motorcycles are caused by drivers not seeing the motorcycle.”
Overall, there were more than 53,000 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads in Ontario in 2019, with Fridays remaining the deadliest day on Ontario roads as people rush home or to get away for the weekend. As a result, the number of injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents continue to climb annually, and that’s often a problem for victims who assume bringing a claim for injury is a simple process.
“Anytime you’ve been in an accident, the general advice is to call a personal injury lawyer to find out what the rules are with respect to bringing claims for any injury as a result,” suggests Deutschmann. “The truth is, however, that it’s difficult to bring a claim for injuries from a motor vehicle accident in Ontario.”
Deutschmann says Ontario law concerning accidents states a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs can only be made if a victim suffers “permanent and serious impairment of a physical or psychological nature.” However, that definition requires some explanation.
“The key is permanent and serious,” explains Deutschmann. “What does serious mean? Generally, serious means substantially affecting your ability to work or substantially affecting your activities of daily living. Then you can bring a claim for pain and suffering and future care needs.”
Bringing a claim for income loss is not subject to a threshold, but is still difficult. However, Deutschmann suggests that no matter how minor your accident-related injury may be, it’s important to seek some legal counsel.
“If you’ve been in an accident that’s not your fault and you’re having difficulties, maybe not able to work to the same level you could before, it’s a good idea to check with a personal injury lawyer just to review what your rights are with respect to that accident,” he said.
The personal injury lawyers at Deutschmann Law operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no cost for a consultation or for legal services unless there is a settlement in your favour.
For more information, contact Deutschmann Law at 1-866-414-4874, serving Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Elmira, Guelph, Woodstock and surrounding areas.
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It’s time to deal with all the questions in the DriveSmartBC inbox that have not prompted an article of their own. Here are 10 of them, one of which initially stumped me too. I guess that goes to show that no matter how long you have been a licensed driver, there is still something that you can learn!
Michelle would like to remind drivers that there is a good reason that they must not park in front of crosswalks. She says that it should be obvious that children are short and can easily be hidden behind a parked vehicle where approaching drivers cannot see them. If we educate drivers about the 6 meter distance, they will understand and stop parking too close.
Dax wants road users to make way for ambulances that display flashing red and white lights but are not using their sirens. While the law does not require it, this is another case where the minor inconvenience involved will benefit the people in need of medical assistance. Why not yield?
Jeff wonders about a vehicle with Texas licence plates that is regularly parked on his residential street for the past 2 years. Should he report it to the police? The police do enforce the Customs Act and may be interested but I think that I would start with the Canadian Border Services Agency instead. Their Border Watch Line is interested in any suspicious cross border activities.
Clive wants to know if he can pull the sidecar of his motorcycle rather than attaching it to run along side. A sidecar is specifically exempt from being called a trailer and requiring a separate licence plate and insurance. If you pull it behind it is no longer a sidecar and would be considered to be a trailer.
Paul’s wife is undergoing chemotherapy and he wants to keep his outside contacts to a minimum to protect her. His B.C. driver’s licence is expiring and he wonders if he can just use his Mexican driver’s licence instead of going to the driver service center to renew. If Paul is ordinarily resident in B.C. he must have a B.C. driver’s licence. When he applies for it, he is required to surrender any driver’s licence that he holds from another jurisdiction.
Dave was messing around with the guages on his ‘Vette and failed to note that he had changed his speedometer to read in mph instead of km/h. You guessed it, he was ticketed for driving at 159 km/h and the ‘Vette was impounded. He wanted to know if he explained the inadvertent change to the traffic court justice, could he have the excessive speed charge set aside? Sorry Dave…
Melody was riding in a group of 4 motorcycles. If they all stopped side by side at the stop line in one lane, could they all leave the stop sign at the same time when it was safe to go? In B.C. it is not legal to operate more than two motorcycles side by side in a lane unless they are passing, so there should never be 4 motorcycles side by side in the same lane at a stop sign.
Will raised a concern that taught me something. He showed a picture of a highway marked with a sign that said No Lane Change for the Next 2 Kilometers yet the roadway was marked with a single broken white line. The direction on the sign overrides the permission indicated by the broken line.
Lisa literally ran afoul of a low mounted bicycle carrier on the rear of a pickup truck while trying to enter the parking space behind it. She did not think she should be found at fault for the collision because the carrier was sticking back into the parking space that she wanted to use. The carrier was there to be seen. If your vehicle does not fit in the space, you will have to find another space.
Curt wants to know if a passenger can be charged for using a mobile device while in a moving vehicle. Our distracted driving rules only apply to the driver so the passenger need only worry if the mobile device somehow interfered with the driver. Even then I’ve investigated a collision where the passenger yanked the steering wheel causing the driver to lose control and the Crown refused to proceed with charges.
Do you have a question that you would like answered? Send me an e-mail and I’ll add it to the queue.
Although COVID-19 has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the law – if you plan to drink, don’t drive. Police will be setting up CounterAttack roadchecks across the province while taking necessary pandemic-related safety precautions to get impaired drivers off our roads.
With many restaurants and pubs reopening and Canada Day this week, ICBC, police and the B.C. government are urging drivers to plan ahead for a safe ride home if your activities involve alcohol.
Every year, on average, 68 people are killed as a result of impaired driving, with 40 per cent of those deaths happening in the summer.*
During the pandemic, alcohol consumption increased as more people were drinking at home. To encourage physical distancing and outdoor socialization, some municipalities are allowing alcohol consumption in parks and at beaches. Whether you’re drinking at home or out with friends, please be responsible and don’t drive.
While much progress has been made, impaired driving remains the leading cause of criminal death in Canada and in the top three contributing factors for fatal crashes in B.C.
If you’re hosting a celebration this summer (remember to keep it within Provincial Health Officer guidelines) and plan to serve alcohol, get an ICBC special event permit kit for free on icbc.com. It’s also available when you apply for an event liquor permit at BCLiquorStores.com. The kits include items to encourage designated drivers to stay sober and for guests to find a safe ride home.
ICBC supports two impaired driving education campaigns every year. Learn more facts and tips in ICBC’s infographic.
Bowinn Ma, MLA North Vancouver-Lonsdale
“We’ve made significant progress in making our streets safer from impaired driving over the past forty years, but too many people are still losing their lives. CounterAttack remains a key part of our provincial enforcement strategy to reduce crashes involving alcohol and drugs, and make our roads safer for British Columbians.”
Superintendent Holly Turton, Vice-Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee
“Summer is here and so are Summer CounterAttack campaigns, so more police will be on B.C. roads checking for impaired drivers. If your plan includes consuming alcohol or cannabis, plan ahead: get a ride home with a friend, hail a taxi, or take the bus. There is no excuse – including COVID-19 – for driving under the influence, and our priority is to prevent and catch drivers who put themselves and their community in danger. Injuries and deaths from impaired driving are completely preventable, and we all have a responsibility to do the right thing.”
Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC President & CEO
“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 drive smart. If you plan to drink, plan ahead for a safe ride home.”
On average, 16 people are killed and 830 injured in 1,500 impaired driving related crashes in the Lower Mainland every year.
On average, 11 people are killed and 320 injured in 600 impaired driving related crashes on Vancouver Island every year.
On average, 22 people are killed and 390 injured in 660 impaired driving related crashes in the Southern Interior every year.
On average, 20 people are killed and 190 injured in 310 impaired driving related crashes in North Central B.C. every year.
Canada Day statistics**:
Each year on Canada Day, one person is killed and 190 injured in 710 crashes in B.C.
Each year 130 people are injured in 430 crashes in the Lower Mainland on Canada Day.
Each year 24 people are injured in 110 crashes on Vancouver Island on Canada Day.
Each year 24 people are injured in 120 crashes in the Southern Interior on Canada Day.
Each year seven people are injured in 42 crashes in the North Central region on Canada Day.
Lower Mainland media are invited to attend evening CounterAttack roadchecks this weekend in Vancouver. Media can contact VPD Sgt Rob Gough at 778-839-0294 for July 3 details and VPD Sgt Brian Trklja at 604-760-8104 for July 4 details. Please call after 9pm that day to confirm location.
Notes about the data:
*Injuries and crashes are police data, five-year average 2015 to 2019. Fatal victim counts are police data, five-year average 2014 to 2018. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.
**Canada Day is calculated from 00:00 to midnight and includes incidents where the time was not reported. Based on five-year average. Injured victim and crash data from ICBC data (2015 to 2019) and fatal victims from police data (2014 to 2018).