In less than three weeks, over 45,000 British Columbians logged on to check their driving knowledge through ICBC’s Drive Smart Refresher Test, and the results show that we could use some improvement. If the refresher test were treated like the knowledge test which requires a minimum score of 80 per cent to obtain a learner’s licence, over 18,000 (40 per cent) would have failed.
Based on the completed tests, drivers had the most difficulty with what to do around emergency vehicles, minimum following distances, and the meaning of road signs.
Interestingly, questions related to texting while driving had near-perfect scores, yet over 34,000 drivers were ticketed for using an electronic device in 2017.*
“What’s just as important as knowing the rules of the road is putting them into practice whenever you drive,” said ICBC’s interim vice-president responsible for road safety, Lindsay Matthews. “No matter how many years of experience you have under your belt, we can all benefit from shedding bad driving habits and refreshing our knowledge.”
Here are some of the top questions that were answered incorrectly:
When approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights on highways with speed limits of under 80 km/h, in addition to changing lanes, drivers must slow to: 40 km/h
When approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with flashing lights on highways with speed limits of 80 km/h or over, in addition to changing lanes, drivers must slow to: 70 km/h.
The minimum following distance when behind a large vehicle or a motorcycle on a high speed road, should be: 3 seconds.
The minimum following distance in bad weather or slippery conditions on high speed roads, should be: 4 seconds.
Drivers are required to yield to a public transit bus that is signaling to enter traffic: on all roads where the speed limit is 60km/h or lower.
This sign means: school crosswalk, yield to pedestrians; if there is a crossing guard follow directions.
This sign, without a speed tab below, means: school zone – reduce speed when children are present.
This sign means: obstruction – keep left.
The number of crashes in B.C. peaked in 2017, with 350,000 crashes happening in the year, or 960 a day. The total cost of claims in 2017 was $4.8 billion, equivalent to $13 million a day.
Think a police officer can’t tell if you’re driving stoned? Think again!
August’s Traffic Safety Spotlight focuses on impaired driving
“I drive better when I’m high!”
“They’ll never catch me!”
“Pffft. That will never hold up in court!”
Sound familiar? There are plenty of misconceptions floating around regarding marijuana use and driving. The truth is that it’s illegal and will continue to be illegal in Saskatchewan to drive while impaired – whether by drugs or alcohol – even once marijuana use becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018.
Think about it: people don’t smoke marijuana so they can feel theexact same. It is an impairing substance that alters your perception – and it increases your chances of being in a crash.
“To put it simply, impaired is impaired,” said Penny McCune, Chief Operating Officer of the Auto Fund. “Any substance that alters your thinking will impact your ability to drive safely. If you smoke marijuana, you should not get behind the wheel until you’re sure the effects have fully worn off.”
Smoking marijuana affects judgment, reaction time, motor coordination and ability to make decisions. It can also cause paranoia, drowsiness, distorted perception and a sense of disorientation – all of which could cause you to lose control at the wheel. Mixing drugs and alcohol increases impairment even more.
If you think police won’t be able to tell if you’re driving while high, think again. Weaving within a lane, following a vehicle too closely, making unsafe turns – these can all be indications that a driver is high. Marijuana can also be detected by odor and by the driver’s physical appearance – including dilated pupils, poor balance and co-ordination.
If the police suspect that a driver is impaired by a drug or alcohol or a combination of both, they can make a demand that the driver take a standardized field sobriety test at roadside. If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is impaired by a drug, they can make a demand that the driver submit to an evaluation conducted by a Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE).
“Drug Recognition Evaluators undergo extensive training and use a rigorous, scientific 12-step procedure in performing the evaluation,” said Cpl. Brian Ferguson, Provincial DRE Training Coordinator. “The evaluation must show impairment, signs and symptoms consistent with one or more drug categories, and the evaluator’s findings must be supported by the toxicology.”
More and more police in Saskatchewan are being trained to recognize signs of impairment from drugs. There are currently 74 DRE-certified officers in the province, with 20 to 40 new officers trained each year.
But will these tests hold up in court? Absolutely. Drug recognition evaluations have been accepted by Canadian courts as legally binding evidence in impaired driving cases for many years.
So, don’t drive high. It’s not worth it and you’re going to get caught. Impaired drivers in Saskatchewan face some of the toughest administrative sanctions in the country, with immediate licence suspensions and vehicle seizures at roadside. Upon conviction, further penalties imposed by the courts may include fines, jail time and long-term driving restrictions.
Follow these tips to keep you and yours safe:
Be a Good Wingman – don’t let impaired friends drive.
Don’t drive high – weed increases your chances of getting into a collision and when combined with alcohol, impairment increases significantly.
Plan a safe ride home – impaired driving is 100% preventable.
Remember – it is illegal to operate any kind of motor vehicle while impaired by any substance. Police are trained to check for and recognize drug impairment.Hashtag alert! A ticket you’ll WANT to getWhile police will be looking for impaired drivers throughout August, some will also be handing out “positive tickets” to drivers who aren’t impaired. Any driver who receives one can post a picture of it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #CareAboutImpaired to be eligible to win one of 25 $150 Visa gift cards. This is one of five new impaired driving initiatives being piloted in Saskatchewan this month. #HowAreYouGettingHomeOur friends at MADD Canada are partnering with a number of organizations to raise awareness over the August long weekend on the dangers of impaired driving. You can be a part of the conversation by following @Sask0804 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and using the hashtag #HowAreYouGettingHome.
And, since you’re online anyway, visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca for more information about impaired driving consequences. Follow SGI on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram for safety tips to #TakeCareOutThere.
A new, collaborative approach to help address impaired driving in Saskatchewan will be tested by the Government of Saskatchewan from the August long weekend until Labour Day. Five pilot projects have been designed through collaboration between various government ministries and agencies, law enforcement and Crown corporations. These projects will be implemented in different areas across the province.
“Saskatchewan has a problem with impaired driving and it’s important we approach this issue with all the tools at our disposal, because even one death or injury from impaired driving is too many,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan Tina Beaudry-Mellor said. “Government, law enforcement and Crown corporations have come together on these five pilot projects that present innovative ways to look at a critical problem facing our province.”
The projects are:
Lead: Innovation Saskatchewan
Overview: In this project, bar patrons will be asked (as they order drinks) if they would like to put a small amount of money toward a “tab” for a designated driving service. This amount of money will be matched by the provincial government and the designated driving service. The project will gather data and assess whether a small matching contribution by the government would increase the likelihood of bar patrons planning ahead for a safe ride home.
Liquor Permit Regulatory Review
Lead: Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
Overview: This project added two questions to the liquor permit application, to prompt applicants to develop a plan for guests to have a safe ride home.Positive Ticketing
Overview: The project aim is for police officers to give a “positive ticket” to sober/designated drivers at scheduled police check stops and/or routine traffic stops. The tickets will encourage recipients to speak about their experience on social media using the hashtag #CareAboutImpaired. Ticket recipients who use the hashtag publicly will be eligible to win one of 25 $150 VISA gift cards.Sobering Messages
Lead: Ministry of Corrections and Policing
Overview: This project is focused on impact messaging through a couple of streams.
Community Engagement: having police officers visit local bars and pubs to encourage patrons to plan ahead and plan a safe ride home.
Social Media Campaign building awareness around and promoting responsible use: the social media handles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are @Sask0804 using the #howareyougettinghome (Sask0804 refers to the August long weekend date as well as the impairment levels under the criminal code).
Lead: Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority
Overview: This project involves placing children’s drawings on brown liquor store bags, to get people to consider and discuss the consequences of impaired driving.
Once complete, the project results will be analyzed to understand what initiatives may have the potential to reduce impaired driving in Saskatchewan when implemented on a larger scale.
According to a recent survey of ICBC’s customers*, 40 per cent of pet guardians plan to bring their pet on a road trip this summer. With only half of guardians saying they own a vehicle restraint or safety device for their pet, ICBC and the BC SPCA are urging drivers to drive smart and consider the safety of their pets when riding in a vehicle.
Of all pet guardians surveyed, only half (52 per cent) own a safety device, with cat guardians (85 per cent) more likely to own one over dog guardians (45 per cent). Cat guardians were also more likely to be consistent with its use – 87 per cent said they ‘always’ use a restraint versus dog guardians at 55 per cent. The reasons given for those that never or rarely used a restraint include that their pet is calm, that it’s safe for a pet to be loose, and that the trip is short.
ICBC and the BC SPCA recommend always using some form of safety restraint whenever travelling with a pet, even for mild-mannered pets or when running a quick errand around town. In the event of a crash, a loose animal can fly forward in your vehicle, causing further injury to themselves and to others in the vehicle. Pet harnesses/safety belts and hard-shell crates secured down are sound options.
To keep this member of the family safest, pets should never sit in the front seat, but be secured in the back seat or cargo area of an SUV or van. Most pet guardians reported that their pet rode in the back seat (50 per cent), while 18 per cent said their pet rode in the front seat, and 16 per cent rode in the cargo area.
Guardians should also take steps to prevent their pet from becoming a distraction to drivers. Distraction is the second-leading contributing cause of fatal crashes in B.C., killing 78 people a year. While three-quarters of respondents agreed that playing with a pet while driving is distracting, some pet guardians admitted to the following actions while driving:
Used arms to restrain pet’s movements when putting on the brakes, 14 per cent
Used arms to keep pet from climbing from the back seat to the front seat, 13 per cent
Reached into the back seat to interact with pet, 12 per cent
Allowed pet to sit on their lap, or held pet while driving, five per cent
Gave food to pet while driving, five per cent
Played with pet, 2 per cent
Taken a photo of pet, 1 per cent
“Part of driving smart is making sure everyone in the vehicle – including pets, are secured before leaving home,” said Lindsay Matthews, interim vice president responsible for road safety. “In the event of a crash, this prevents passengers from incurring further injury, while keeping the pet safe, too.”
“Many drivers consider a pet as part of their family,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA. “And as with any loved one that rides in your vehicle, we hope drivers will take steps to keep their dog or cat seated, secure and safe during every drive.”
One customer wrote, “A far greater concern I have relates to the distraction pets cause to the driver and thus danger to pedestrians and other members of the motoring public. I have witnessed persons driving, holding the dog or cat between themselves and the steering wheel. This does not provide any safety to the animal and certainly impedes the driver’s ability to adequately react.”
Drive Smart tips for pet guardians:
Tip #1: Use a safety device to protect your pet. Loose animals in the event of crash can become a projectile, injuring themselves and others in the vehicle. Animals can also pose a safety risk for first responders, as a disoriented and injured animal may try to attack an attendant or even cause another crash by running into traffic.
Tip #2: Let your dog be the backseat driver. Pets are safest when secured in the back seat or cargo area. For the same reason ICBC discourages children under 12 from sitting in the front seat of vehicle, the same safety risks of a deployed air bag can have devastating consequences for animals as well.
Tip #3: Prevent pet distraction by packing the essentials. Keep pets content by bringing food, water, dishes, bedding and toys. For road trips, it’s best to stock your vehicle with a pet first-aid kit. And plan for a pit stop every few hours – it’s good for drivers and pets alike to stretch and get fresh air.
Tip #4: Keep pets inside the vehicle while driving. While it’s tempting to let your dog hang his head out the window for the breeze, this can lead to eye injuries due to weather, heavy wind, fly debris or objects coming close to your vehicle. Disable your power windows to prevent your dog from accidentally opening a window, causing it to escape or have the window close on its neck.
Tip #5: Do not drive with your pet on your lap. This can prevent you from having full control of your vehicle. Your pet could also be seriously injured or killed by a deployed airbag in the event of a crash. Drivers can be ticketed for driving with ‘without due care and attention’, with a fine of $368 and six penalty points which comes with a fine of $300.
Tip #6: Secure your pet if travelling in the back of a pick-up truck. It is illegal and dangerous to travel with an unsecured pet in the exterior of a truck. If you must transport your pet in the back of a truck, the safest method is in a secured crate in the centre of your truck box. Learn more on the BC SPCA’s website.
Tip #7: If you’re not in the car, your dog shouldn’t be either. Vehicles can quickly heat up in summer weather, and can endanger your pet’s health. Even a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can get hot enough to cause heatstroke or death of an animal.
We have built our world around the convenience of the motor vehicle. Without one, our focus suddenly becomes much more narrow. Are you prepared to cope with the decision to stop driving when the time comes?
I ask this question after watching a significant change for part of my family. My in-laws decided that the family home of 52 years was too much for them and made the move to a seniors complex. My father-in-law suggested that they had been considering this for about 2 years but once the decision had been made the transition occurred too quickly.
They found a new seniors complex that suited them and had space available. Once their home was listed for sale, it sold almost immediately and the move to the complex was complete 30 days later.
Needless to say, they both found the change very stressful. A lifetime of possessions suddenly had to be divided into 3 categories: keep, redistribute or throw away and dealt with quickly. A new home had to be occupied and adjusted to as well.
My mother-in-law had the most difficulty and made the decision to stop driving on her own initiative. Fortunately, my father-in-law still drives and their facility provides transport to a nearby shopping center once a week.
Following the advice of her children, she chose to retain her driver’s licence rather than surrendering it as she had first intended.
I really hope that this works out well for them once they get over the shock.
Life often does not leave you with choices and planning is much better than procrastination.
A driver examiner told me in conversation once that it was fairly common for older men who failed a retest to hop in the car and drive home after surrendering their licence. Thank goodness they made it there safely as they would not be covered by insurance if they caused a crash on that trip.
Younger people are not exempt either. I stopped a middle aged woman one morning as her driving made her appear to be an alcohol impaired driver. Conversation quickly established that she was sober but suffered from physical health issues.
I convinced her to park the car and let me drive her back home as no one she knew was available to help her. I felt very awkward in the situation and as we pulled into her driveway I complimented her on her home as a way of making conversation. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a pretty nice prison, isn’t it?”
Somewhere between capable and incapable lies an area where the driver still performs adequately in some circumstances. Applying restrictions to their driver’s licence permits some mobility while reducing the chance of causing a crash. Graduated De-Licensing if you will.
This is where ICBC operates in conjunction with health professionals, police, family and friends. However, for it to be successful, ICBC must know of the driver’s difficulties either through reports or periodic medical examinations.
According to the Office of the Seniors Advocate of BC more work needs to be done in support of seniors mobility. The advocate has recommended a new program called “Community Drives” that would be administered under the existing home support program.
I suspect that no one really wants to grow old and stop driving much less spend the time planning for it. However, a little time spent in advance can make that transition much less stressful.
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 of 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.
I’ve been riding as a passenger in heavy traffic this past week and have had time to watch and think about what is going on around me. There are many small things that a driver should do out of habit to minimize their chances of being involved in a collision.
In no particular order of importance, here are my suggestions.
Signal! The bulbs are good for more than 3 or 4 blinks too. Nothing tells others what you would like to do better than a well used signal light lever. There are polite drivers out there who will actually see your signal and help you accomplish what you want to do.
When you stop in traffic, you should see pavement between the front edge of your hood and the bottoms of the back tires of the vehicle in front of you. If you don’t, you are too close.
The extra space may prevent you from being pushed into the vehicle in front of you if your vehicle is hit from behind. It also gives you room to move if an emergency vehicle approaches.
Stop before the sidewalk when you are entering a street, not on top of it. Pedestrians really appreciate your consideration.
Maintain an appropriate following distance for the conditions. When you do this, you control your own safety margin and to some extent that of the driver behind you. They will have more time to realize that something is happening and can then avoid colliding with you.
Leave yourself an out, especially around heavy commercial vehicles. Having a space to move into on your left or right if something happens may mean avoiding a crash.
Use some lane discipline. You are entitled to one lane and have to stay between the lines of that lane.
If you don’t know where you are going, stop and figure it out. Better still, plan before you leave. If you don’t have GPS in your vehicle, cell phone or tablet, the internet is full of useful resources.
Don’t commit random acts of driving by ignoring traffic controls when you decide you’ve chosen incorrectly.
Remember that there are drivers behind you that will become impatient and try to pass by. Pull over, stop, let them by and then continue at reduced speed as you try to locate the address you are trying to find.
Scan around and well ahead of your vehicle. Preparation is preferrable to surprise.
Early detection of obstructions ahead allow you to plan to avoid them rather than react in a place where you may not have a choice.
Anticipate the traffic lights. Braking lightly and coasting to a stop saves wear and tear on your vehicle. Aside from being safer, it also saves you money on maintenance and fuel.
Screaming up to the red light and braking heavily at the last second invites the driver behind you to join you in a collision, especially if they are not paying attention or are momentarily focused elsewhere.
If another driver insists on infringing on your right of way, let them have it. It’s better to maintain as much control of the situation as you are able to rather than insist on being part of the incident.
None of these things are difficult to do and are simple habits to develop. The choice to be safe is always yours.