#RoadSafety: Round and Round the Roundabout

Roundabouts and traffic circles are not new to British Columbia, but if the complaints in my inbox are any indication, they are still totally mystifying to some drivers. Common issues include bulldozing into the circle without yielding, signalling when there is no need, not signalling when there is a need, and yes, going around them in the wrong direction.

Most e-mails observe that while new drivers may be taught how to use these intersections properly, the rest of us have to figure it out on our own and somebody has to clue us in. In general, fingers point to either the provincial government or ICBC having primary responsibility for this task. I disagree. Basic responsibility for keeping driving skills up to date rest with the individual driver.

There is certainly no lack of information on the subject. ICBC has a web page on How to Use a Roundabout, a Roundabout Information Guide and the Learn to Drive Smart manual. TranBC’s web site explains Rules of the Roundabout, a How to Use Roundabouts Guide and has videos to watch and learn from.

Of course, DriveSmartBC web site visitors have a collection of roundabout and traffic circle information to browse as well.

If you think about it, the task is not that difficult. As you approach any intersection you scan for other road users, vehicles, cycles and pedestrians, and signs that control your travel.

In the case of a single lane roundabout or traffic circle, you see a yield sign as you approach. If there is any other road user present, you must yield to them as necessary prior to entering. The center is marked with a sign that tells you to proceed around it to the right. Since that is the only way to go, no signal is required.

Exiting does require a signal to tell others what you are choosing to do.

When the roundabout has two lanes, things become a bit more complicated but when broken down into individual steps there is nothing new here either.

As you approach the roundabout there is a sign that tells you which lane you must enter the roundabout from based on where you intend to exit. Switch to the appropriate lane if necessary.

Yield as usual and proceed counterclockwise.

Follow the lane use markings once you are inside. If you are nearest the center, exit into the leftmost lane. Otherwise, exit into the right lane.

Confused? There is nothing to stop you from staying in the roundabout and trying again when the next opportunity comes around.

The only other complication that comes to mind is if you are approached by an emergency vehicle, but that’s not really different either. If you are in the roundabout, get out and pull over. If you are approaching the roundabout, stop before you enter and let the emergency vehicle pass.

Finally, what happens when you encounter a traffic circle that doesn’t have yield signs posted? We yield to the right at uncontrolled intersections, don’t we? Hmmm. I guess that will have to be the subject of a future article because I don’t have a definitive answer for you.

Seriously, Saskatchewan – put down the cellphones!

Since monthly traffic safety spotlights began in 2014, last month saw the most tickets yet for distracted driving. A total of 523 tickets were issued; 82 for driving without due care and attention and 441 for driving while using, holding, viewing or manipulating a hand-held cellphone.

Throughout March, police were also watching for drivers speeding, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and not being properly restrained with seatbelts or not having their child passengers in the appropriate child safety seat. Violations for these offences are also disappointing as they’ve increased each month in 2017:

  • 4,532 speeding/aggressive driving violations
  • 318 impaired driving infractions
  • 453 seatbelts/child safety seats violations

Based on 2015 data, distracted driving was the leading factor in motor vehicle collisions in Saskatchewan and in second place for fatal collisions, behind impaired driving. More people were charged for distracted driving last month than impaired driving.

Distracted driving laws were strengthened in January, from ‘using’ a hand-held cellphone to ‘using, viewing, holding or manipulating’ one. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free. Experienced drivers can use hands-free phones if they are activated with voice commands or one-touch, and are dashboard, visor or cradle mounted.

Although SGI strongly recommends pulling over to use your phone, we understand that some experienced drivers need to use it on-the-go. If that’s the case, invest in a hands-free device. They’re easy to find and quite inexpensive – it’ll pay for itself considering the fine for breaking the cellphone law is $280. On your second offence in one year, your vehicle is also impounded for seven days.

Law enforcement continue to focus on pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle safety throughout April. Please remember to share the road with these vulnerable road-users and #LookOut for people walking and riding.

Visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca for more information about distracted driving. Follow SGI on Facebook and Twitter for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.

*Includes all traffic safety focus results for March submitted by police as of April 13, 2017.

For more information, contact:

Tyler McMurchy
Manager, Media Relations
Phone: 306-751-1837
Cell: 306-535-6207
Email: tmcmurchy@sgi.sk.ca

Measuring Vehicle Speed With Laser

Laser GunI can remember the anticipation when our highway patrol unit was issued it’s first laser speed measuring device, an LTI 20/20 Marksman. Imagine! Here was a device that we could point at a single vehicle in the traffic stream and accurately measure only it’s speed. It was fast enough to re-target and measure the vehicles around it too. No one would want to use hand held radar once we were trained on this.

Training was a full day event. We spent the morning learning all about the device and an afternoon under the supervision of an experienced instructor using the lidar ourselves.

Lidar sends out a train of laser pulses in a tight beam that would be about the diameter of an orange at 300 metres distance. It had to receive a significant number of those pulses back in recognizable form before it would display the target vehicle’s speed. If something was not right, instead of a speed it would display an error code. As long as the error was not due to a system failure of some sort, you could correct it and immediately try again.

If traffic was light and the vehicle was large and reflective, you could make accurate speed measurements at distances of over a kilometer.

Preparing for a shift was a simple exercise. You plugged the laser in and turned it on. The power on self test ran and issued either a pass or fail.

A pass meant proceeding to the aiming test. A distant target (we used a utility pole with a crossbar) was selected that had sharp horizontal and vertical edges with nothing close behind. The laser was put into aiming mode and the sighting dot passed over the target. A change in the audible tone signified when the beam was passing over the edges of the target. If the tone change corresponded to the visual observation of the dot in the aiming scope touching the edge, it was aimed correctly.

Proper aim meant continuing to the fixed distance zero velocity test. We had set up three permanent targets in our parking lot that we had carefully measured the distance to. The lidar had to show a zero speed reading and the correct distance to each target before we could be satisfied that it was measuring correctly.

With testing completed and recorded in my notebook, I was ready to find a location and start issuing speeding tickets if the opportunity presented itself.

When a speeding ticket was disputed I had to satisfy the court by testimony that I had qualified to use the lidar, it had been tested and found to be in proper operation, the motor vehicle driven by the accused was targeted correctly and a speed that corresponded to visual observation was measured. It goes without saying that the measured speed had to be higher than the prevailing speed limit for the location of the offence.

At that point, the onus of proof to the contrary shifted to the disputant. In my experience, if the officer did everything as they were trained to do correctly this type of speeding evidence was difficult to disprove.

Canadians concerned about legal marijuana, as some users believe they can drive safely

Canadians concerned about legal marijuana, as some users believe they can drive safely

With the recent tabling of federal legislation Canada continues its march towards the legalization of marijuana. A new State Farm Canada survey released today found a number of emerging trends which reveal Canadians’ perceptions about marijuana use, its safety, and driving while under the influence are evolving.

Generally, the path toward legalization seems to be changing how Canadians feel about marijuana, largely in a more accepting way. One out of 4 survey respondents say that their views on marijuana have changed since Prime Minister Trudeau announced his promise to legalize marijuana. And of those whose views have changed, nearly 70% feel that marijuana use has become more acceptable.

On the issue of marijuana and driving, those who use marijuana see things quite differently from those who do not. One in 10 respondents admit they have driven under the influence of marijuana (45% within the past 12 months), but nearly half of this group say they don’t believe marijuana impacts their ability to drive safely. This is an increase of five per cent from 2016, but also shows that users have a very different view of driving while high than the rest of the population. When the same question was asked of Canadians in general, 73% felt that marijuana use would impair the skills necessary to drive

Among the highlights:

  • One out of 4 survey respondents say that their views on marijuana have changed since Prime Minister Trudeau announced his promise to legalize marijuana. And of those whose views have changed, nearly 70% feel that marijuana use has become more acceptable.
  • On the issue of marijuana and driving, those who use marijuana see things quite differently from those who do not. One in 10 respondents admit they have driven under the influence of marijuana (45% within the past 12 months), but nearly half of this group say they don’t believe marijuana impacts their ability to drive safely.
  • 80% say they are concerned about people driving under the influence of marijuana
  • 83% feel there is not enough information available about the risks associated with driving under the influence of marijuana
  • 3 out of 4 don’t believe, or are unsure, that police have the tools and resources to identify marijuana-impaired drivers
  • 38% believe that stiffer penalties would discourage people the most from driving while high. This is closely followed by stronger road side testing (30 per cent) which jumped up by 11 per cent when compared to the 2016 survey
  • 75% said that people who drive while high should have the same legal penalties as those who drink and drive
  • 73% believe that people who drive high should be given an impaired driving (DUI, DWI) charge
  • 68% do not feel that the Canadian legal system has made progress over the past year to deal with people who drive under the influence of marijuana, whether in the form of testing, legislation or public awareness

About the Survey

The online survey, conducted in March, 2017, polled 3,061 respondents of driving age across Canada.

About State Farm

In January 2015, State Farm’s Canadian operations were purchased by Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and among the three largest P&C insurance providers in Canada. With its 500 dedicated agents and 1700 employees, the State Farm division provides insurance and financial services products including mutual funds, life insurance, vehicle loans, critical illness, disability, home and auto insurance to customers in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. For more information, visit www.statefarm.ca

OPP: Seat belt-related road deaths lowest in 20 years but one life lost is one too many

ICBC encourages drivers to plan ahead to stay safe this Easter long weekend

ICBC encourages drivers to plan ahead to stay safe this Easter long weekend

April 11, 2017

After months of tough winter driving conditions, many British Columbians are likely making their first road trip of the year this Easter weekend. Every Easter long weekend, an average of four people are killed and 650 injured in 2,300 crashes in B.C.*

Even though winter is over, road conditions can still be challenging at this time of the year with increased long weekend traffic volumes and the possibility of rapidly changing weather and even flooded roads. That’s why ICBC is advising drivers to plan ahead and be realistic about travel times.  Allow extra time for possible delays and check drivebc.ca for road and weather conditions before starting your trip.

Here are ICBC’s Easter weekend safe driving tips:

Get some rest: Make sure you’re well rested before heading out on a long drive. Take breaks or switch drivers every two hours to avoid fatigue.

Check your vehicle: If this is your first longer drive of the year, remember to check your engine oil, washer fluid, lights and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they are in good condition and properly inflated.

Slow down on wet roads: Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet or slippery roads. Avoid driving through flooded or washed out roads.

Share the road: Spring brings more cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists on our roads. So it’s important for drivers to be alert and watch for all road users, especially at intersections. Avoid distractions and leave your phone alone.

Watch for wildlife warning signs: Animals may be feeding on plants near the roadside this spring. Slow down and use caution when you see wildlife on or near a highway, so you have time to react if an animal crosses your path.

Regional statistics:*

  • On average, 490 people are injured in 1,500 crashes every year in the Lower Mainland over the Easter long weekend.

  • On average, 62 people are injured in 310 crashes every year in the Southern Interior over the Easter long weekend.

  • On average, 78 people are injured in 310 crashes every year on Vancouver Island over the Easter long weekend.

  • On average, 20 people are injured in 130 crashes every year in the North Central region over the Easter long weekend.

*Injury and crash numbers are based on ICBC data 2011-2015. Fatality data based on police data 2011-2015. Easter Long Weekend is calculated from 18:00 hours the Thursday prior to Good Friday until midnight Easter Monday.

Media contact

Sam Corea

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