BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars

With the recent warm weather and several calls already received by the BC SPCA about animals in hot cars, the animal welfare society is again, reminding people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe.

Cars can become death traps in 10 minutes

“People don’t realize just how quickly their cars can become death traps for their pets – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the vehicle to reach temperatures where the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or death,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“We know that if people are taking their pets with them, it’s because they love them and want to spend time with them, but we really do encourage pet guardians to please, leave their pets at home when they’re going out in the car.”

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

  • Note the license plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • Is the animal in distress? Call your local animal control agency, police, or the BC SPCA hotline at 1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible. Note: It is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access the vehicle themselves; only RCMP and Special Provincial Constables of the BC SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle. SPCA branch staff and volunteers cannot enter vehicles.
  • Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water- in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response; a battery-powered fan from a dollar store also can be handy to circulate air.

Dogs can’t release heat by sweating

In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, which they cannot do in a vehicle that has become an oven, she notes. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

“Your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says. “It is such a preventable tragedy.”

If people see a dog in a hot car who they think is in distress, they should call municipal animal control authorities or local law enforcement immediately.

B.C. takes new approach to testing older drivers, some ask if ageism a factor

By Dirk Meissner

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA _ Frank Harding is 98 years old and most days he drives his 1990 Volvo sedan to the Comox Recreation Centre where he works out.

One summer, the resident of Courtenay, B.C., said he drove across Canada four times from Vancouver Island to New Brunswick to visit relatives, although he doesn’t drive that much any more.

But Harding said he recently faced the prospect of losing his driver’s licence under a revamped driver reassessment program geared at drivers in B.C. once they reach 80 years old, which has raised questions about age discrimination.

Harding, who learned to drive tractors on family farms and trucks during the Second World War, said he was told to take a road test after undergoing a government-ordered driving fitness exam by his doctor.

“I went and I didn’t do so good on my medical,” said Harding. “So, he wanted me to have a road test, so I went and had a road test and I came through with flying colours.”

In March, the B.C. government introduced its Enhanced Road Assessment program, which is the second stage of its fitness testing program for driver’s licences. It replaced the former DriveABLE program, which drew criticism from seniors for its reliance on computer tests and road tests in unfamiliar vehicles.

RoadSafetyBC, the government agency responsible for road safety, mandates every person at age 80, and every two years following, must undergo a Driver Medical Examination Report. The report serves as the primary tool for the assessment of conditions that may affect someone’s fitness to drive.

Harding, who has been through several driver fitness exams since he turned 80, said this was the first time he had to take a road test. He agreed it was time to retest his skills, but he said his life would have changed if he lost his licence.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “I think it’s a very good thing.”

B.C.’s seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the new testing program is less daunting for seniors, but she is concerned about targeting drivers just because they are 80 years old.

“Why are we doing it based on age and who picked age 80?” she asked.

Driving regulations based on age vary across Canada.

In Alberta, drivers 75 and older must file a medical report from their doctor every time they renew their licence. There are no age restrictions in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or the territories.

Ontario has a Licence Renewal Program that starts at 80. In Quebec, drivers must submit a physician’s report when renewing their licence at age 75, age 80 and every two years following.

Steve Wallace, a long-time owner of a driving instruction business, said the new program in B.C. is much more comfortable for seniors who can now take the exam in their own vehicles and no longer face the test on a computer.

But why not look at a driver’s record rather than age when considering testing for fitness, he said.

“When every other segment of society is judged on their record, then this group of people should be judged on their record,” he said. “There’s an extreme prejudice against seniors. This is blatant age discrimination.”

Recent data from RoadSafetyBC suggests not every driver asked to take the enhanced road test is 80 or older.

To date, the agency said it has referred about 1,700 drivers for assessment. About 1,100 of them were 80 or older.

The agency said it processes about 60,000 medical exams for drivers who are 80 and older annually.

Last year, about 3,450 drivers who were 80 and over took the previous DriveABLE assessment. Of those drivers, 1,400 were found medically fit to drive and 550 were found medically unfit and had their licences cancelled. Another 1,250 drivers had their licences cancelled for non-compliance and 250 voluntarily surrendered their licence, the RoadSafetyBC data says.

Mackenzie said the numbers of drivers voluntarily surrendering their licences increases as they age.

At 65 years old, 95 per cent of drivers have their licences, but at age 84 only 34 per cent of people have their driver’s licences, she said.

Stop Signs & Red Lights, Honk, Honk, Honk!

“I almost lost my life at West Fourth and Blenheim in Vancouver this morning” reported a DriveSmartBC Twitter follower. “I was turning left. The traffic lights were red for the traffic on Fourth. I stopped for the stop sign on Blenheim, then moved into the intersection to make my turn. The vehicle approaching me from the opposite direction was speeding and didn’t even slow down for the stop sign. She went straight through!”

The first thought that I had was to wonder whether this woman missed seeing the stop sign or whether she was taking advantage of the red traffic light on the cross street to deliberately disobey her duty to stop.

It does not matter where you encounter a stop sign, the law requires a complete cessation of your vehicle’s (or cycle’s) movement at the proper place. Once you have stopped and yielded the right of way to other road users as the rules dictate, only then are you allowed to proceed with care.

This applies to traffic on Blenheim Street.

Don’t forget that you may have a duty to yield to the vehicle turning left, even if you are traveling straight through the intersection.

The red light is a different matter. This traffic signal is at an intersection, so drivers and riders on Fourth Street facing it are required to stop, wait for a green light, yield to traffic still lawfully in the intersection and then proceed if it is safe to do so.

The only exception to this is when making a right turn on red is not prohibited. However, you still have to come to a stop, yield as necessary and make your turn with care.

Throw a few pedestrians into the mix and the rules requiring a driver to yield become more complex.

The Twitter follower travels this route frequently and says that he is often subjected to the wrath of drivers behind him when he stops for the stop sign and the traffic light is red. Honk, honk, honk! How dare you slow me down!

This reminds me of the proverb look before you leap. This wisdom has been forgotten by many drivers as the tendency is to keep going rather than stop or slow down.

After years of observing this behaviour I often joked that I wanted to be assigned to a “bridge out” complaint. I would set up cones, park my police vehicle with the emergency lights flashing, stand beside the road holding a stop sign and watch everyone drive by and fill up the hole.

ICBC and BC Transplant partnership helps increase organ donation registrations by 15%

Source: ICBC: More than 125,000 customers registered their decision on organ donation in the year since ICBC driver licensing employees across B.C. began asking customers to register their decision on organ donation with BC Transplant.

“We’re really pleased with the overwhelming support for organ donation and that we’re able to make it easy for our customers to register their decision,” said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s interim president and CEO. “These conversations at our driver licensing locations will save lives.”

You only need to register once in a lifetime but a decal on your driver’s licence is no longer enough to ensure you’re registered as an organ donor. You can register your wishes online at transplant.bc.ca or at ICBC driver licensing offices across the province.

“Our partnership with ICBC has led to more conversations about organ donation in our communities, and now more than ever, British Columbians are registering their wishes for organ donation,” said Leanne Appleton, BC Transplant’s provincial executive director. “Thanks to these decisions and the life-saving gifts of organ donors and their families, a record 479 people received a transplant in 2017.”

An earlier pilot in four ICBC locations indicated the value of having these conversations so the program was expanded to all ICBC driver licensing locations across the province. Based on the phenomenal success of the program, ICBC employees will continue asking customers to register their decision.

British Columbians and their families are increasingly making a generous decision for organ donation. In 2017, the life-saving gifts of 97 living donors and a record 121 deceased donors gave a second chance at life to 479 British Columbians suffering from organ failure.

More than 1.2 million people have registered their decision in the BC Organ Donor Registry. All British Columbians are encouraged to register their own decision about organ donation, and share their wishes with their family.

​ICBC urges drivers to be alert this Easter long weekend

Source: ICBC

Even though winter is now over, road conditions can still be challenging at this time of the year with unpredictable weather and increased traffic on our roads over the long weekendd. That’s why ICBC is asking drivers to drive smart and avoid distractions behind the wheel.

Every Easter long weekend, an average of four people are killed and 650 injured in 2,300 crashes in B.C.*

ICBC’s drive smart tips for Easter weekend:

  • 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.
  • Be prepared: Plan your route and visit drivebc.ca to check road and weather conditions before starting your trip. Be realistic about travel times over the long weekend and expect delays. Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you get stuck or stranded.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Avoid distractions: Spring brings more cyclistspedestrians and motorcyclists on our roads. Avoid distractions behind the wheel so you are alert and see all road users. Make important calls and send texts on your cell phone before you start your trip.
  • Watch for signs of wildlife: 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 to 2015. Fatality data based on police data 2011 to 2015. Easter long weekend is calculated from 18:00 hours the Thursday prior to Good Friday until midnight Easter Monday.

Uber Self Driving Crash Calls Safety, Rules Into Question

By Melissa Daniels And Bob Christie

Video of a fatal pedestrian crash involving a self-driving Uber vehicle that some experts say exposes flaws in autonomous vehicle technology is prompting calls to slow down testing on public roads and renewing concerns about regulatory readiness.

The 22-second video shows a woman walking from a darkened area onto a street just before an Uber SUV in self-driving mode strikes her. It was released by police in Tempe, Arizona, following the crash earlier this week.

Three experts who study the emerging technology concluded the video, which includes dashcam footage of the driver’s reaction, indicates the vehicle’s sensors should have spotted the pedestrian and that it should have initiated braking to avoid the crash that killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night.

It was the first fatality of a self-driving vehicle, and Uber has suspended its testing as the investigation proceeds.

Raj Rajkumar, who heads the autonomous vehicle program at Carnegie Mellon University, said the video was revealing in multiple ways, including that the driver appeared distracted and that Herzberg appeared to have been in the roadway and moving for several seconds and still her presence wasn’t sensed.

Laser systems used in the vehicles, called Lidar, can carry a blind spot, he said.

“All of this should be looked at in excruciating detail,” he said.

Herzberg’s death occurs at time when eagerness to put autonomous vehicles on public roads is accelerating in Silicon Valley, the auto industry and state and federal governments. More than 100 auto manufacturers and industry associations in early March sent a letter urging Congress to expedite passage of a proposal from Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, that aims to provide regulatory oversight and make it easier to deploy the technology.

After the crash, groups like Vision Zero, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other safety-minded organizations urged the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to pause consideration of Thune’s proposal until the Tempe crash investigation is completed.

“The stage is now set for what will essentially be beta-testing on public roads with families as unwitting crash test dummies,” the letter said.

Thune, who chairs the science committee, said in a statement Thursday that the crash underscores the need to adopt laws and policies tailored to self-driving vehicles.

“Congress should act to update rules, direct manufacturers to address safety requirements, and enhance the technical expertise of regulators,” Thune said.

Scott Hall, spokesman for the Coalition of Future Mobility, which represents a variety of auto, consumer and taxpayer interest groups, said Thursday it supports the bill because a national framework of rules governing testing and deployment of technology is needed to avoid a 50-state patchwork of laws.

Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that states are increasingly introducing legislation over autonomous vehicles — 33 in 2017. More than 20 states have already enacted autonomous vehicle legislation.

Uber, Intel, Waymo and GM are testing autonomous cars in Arizona, which does not require them to get a permit. After the Tempe crash, Gov. Doug Ducey, who lured the companies to the state with a promise of minimal regulation, warned against jumping to conclusions.

He noted both the Tempe police and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

“So let’s see what happened.”

Earlier this month, Ducey issued an executive order that will allow companies to operate autonomous vehicles without a person on board. The only regulation is to send an advisory letter to the state Department of Transportation.

John Simpson of the California-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said Ducey was turning Arizona into “the wild West of automobile testing.”

“There’s no regulations, and if there’s not a sheriff in town somebody gets killed,” Simpson said.

His group is calling for a national moratorium on the testing of all autonomous vehicles until the cause of the fatal crash is determined. He said other states and Congress should look to California for a blueprint, where even minor crashes must be reported.

In Arizona, companies such as Uber only need to carry minimum liability insurance to operate self-driving cars. They are not required to track crashes or report any information to the state.

California requires a $5 million insurance policy, and companies must report accidents to the state within 10 days and release an annual tally documenting how many times test drivers had to take over.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who also has embraced limited regulations for autonomous vehicles, said the crash wasn’t causing him to rethink his state’s laws.

“What I would say is we need to find out all the issues associated with that (crash),” he said. “It’s terrible to have someone get in an accident and be killed in an event like that. Unfortunately we have traffic deaths going on far too often in our country. Let’s all work harder on having safe roads.”

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