#HeadsUp, Saskatchewan – Distracted driving is always a bad call

Picking up your phone while driving to let your friend know you’re running late? That’s a bad call. It’s illegal, dangerous and may cost you – there might be a police officer watching from a bus or an unmarked vehicle in the next lane, and the fines and penalties are stiff.

Distracted driving is the focus of October’s Traffic Safety Spotlight. Throughout the month, police across the province will be using a variety of tactics to catch distracted drivers in the act, including surveillance from unmarked vehicles and plainclothes officers on the sidewalks. Regina Police Service is running “Operation Bus Cop,” with eagle-eye officers watching for distracted drivers from city buses.

Police will be on the lookout for people using handheld cellphones to talk, text, email or browse online while driving. But distracted driving isn’t just limited to using a phone.

“Drivers are still not getting the message. If you are in control of a vehicle, anything that takes your attention away from the road is dangerous,” said Superintendent Brian Shalovelo, Saskatoon Police Service. “If someone says they were picking up a CD on the floor when they lost control, that is distracted driving. Changing the radio station, smoking a cigarette, reading a map or your mail – these are all examples of how a driver can be distracted. We’ve even seen people watching Netflix while driving.”

“The average car or lightweight truck weighs over four thousand pounds,” said Chief Evan Bray, Regina Police Service. “That is two tons of comfort and convenience to get you to your destination…or it’s two tons of steel and glass that can take your life, or someone else’s, if you lose control. Is there any text message, photo or music selection in the world that could be more important than a human life?”

“The message is simple: put the phone away and encourage your friends and family to do the same,” said Earl Cameron, Executive Vice President of the Auto Fund. “Put it out of reach in your glove box, zip it up in your purse and put it in the back seat, or mount it on your dashboard and use it hands-free if you’re an experienced driver. We all have a responsibility to make safe choices behind the wheel.”

It is illegal for drivers in Saskatchewan to use, view, hold or manipulate a cellphone while driving. This means that, even if you’re simply holding a cellphone and not using it, you can still be charged. Drivers caught using their cellphone while driving for the second time within one year will have the vehicle they are driving seized for seven days. Experienced drivers can only use a cellphone if it is mounted to their visor or dash, and they use the voice-activated or one-touch functions. Learner and novice drivers are not allowed to use a cellphone of any kind, not even hands-free.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $280 fine and four demerit points under SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program.

Everyone can drive free of distractions by following these tips:

  • Don’t use your cellphone, even at a red light – the law applies whenever you’re in control of a vehicle.
  • Put the phone away – silence your phone and put it out of reach before getting behind the wheel.
  • Focus on driving – limit distractions like eating, grooming, or having emotional conversations with passengers.
  • Have a designated texter – let your passenger reply to messages and operate the radio and GPS.
  • Pull over first – if you need to make a call or take care of children or pets, don’t do it while driving.
  • Call out friends and family – if you see them using a cellphone behind the wheel, speak up! It may save their life.

Visit SGI’s website at www.sgi.sk.ca to learn more about distracted driving and the strengthened cellphone legislation.

August Traffic Safety Spotlight Results: Impaired driving

During the August spotlight on impaired driving police reported 390 impaired driving offences, including 334 Criminal Code charges.

Police also reported:

  • 4,243 tickets for speeding or aggressive driving
  • 360 tickets for inappropriate or no seatbelt/child restraint
  • 459 tickets for distracted driving (including 342 for cellphone use)

Using a toonie to check your winter tire tread

This video first ran in December 2011.

We asked our viewers to send us their questions and concerns about winter tires, and we posed those to tire expert Paul Luciano, co-owner of CP Tire in Carleton Place, Ontario. Janet from Alberta asks, “How long will my treads last, and is there a way I can test them?”

Paul Luciano: About average (mileage) is 18,000 to 25,000 kilometers a year and I would say three good seasons. You’ll probably still have tread remaining on those snow tires, but they won’t have the same traction as they did when they were new.

This tire measures about 60 percent worn and less than 6/32s of tread. An all-season tire brand new will come with approximately 11/32s to 13/32s, depending on the manufacturer. The tread depth is that much. In order for this tire to pass the safety, we require 4/32s of tread above the wear bar which is right here. This tire would actually pass a safety if it had an even 4/32s of tread across the face of the tire. But, like all tires, the bottom section of the tread lug is significantly harder than the top. When you get down to this depth of tread, although still serviceable in dry weather, it’s not so good in wet or cold.

Not everyone carries around a professional device for measuring tread depth, but there is a simple trick most of us can use with a good old toonie.

Paul Luciano: 12/32s of rubber, if you’re testing the depth of your new tires, should reach the paws of the polar bear on the toonie. At 50 percent wear, which is approximately 7/32s of tread, if you put your toonie into the tire tread, at 50 percent will cover the nickel part of the toonie. At 4/32s of tread, at which the tire would not be very good in winter driving although would still have tread on it, would just partially cover the letters of the word “dollars” on your toonie.

 

Drivers urged to prepare for changing road conditions during the first long weekend of fall

Whether travelling around town or across the province for Thanksgiving gatherings this long weekend, ICBC is urging drivers to be prepared for seasonal changes that could create adverse road conditions.

B.C. sees about 2,000 crashes every Thanksgiving long weekend that, on average, result in 600 injuries and four fatalities.

ICBC offers the following tips for drivers:

  • Plan your route ahead of time. The weather can be unpredictable on highways and at higher elevations; plan ahead to make your trip as safe as possible. Check road and weather conditions before your trip at drivebc.ca. With more holiday weekend traffic, allow extra time to get to your destination.

  • Check if you need winter tires. Drivers are required to use winter tires on some B.C. highwaysWinter tires are labelled with either the mountain/snowflake symbol or the mud and snow (M&S designation).

  • Slow down on wet roads. Allow yourself at least twice the normal braking distance on wet and slippery roads or on roads covered in leaves to give yourself time to stop. The posted speed limits are only intended for ideal conditions.

  • Check your tires to avoid hydroplaning. Tires with lower tread depth and low pressure are more likely to hydroplane. To prevent hydroplaning, check your tires for proper tread and inflation, scan ahead for large puddles and reduce your speed, especially during heavy rain.

  • Watch for pedestrians. With shorter days and reduced visibility, be vigilant around intersections and watch for pedestrians. October marks the first month of the season where crashes involving pedestrians peak. In addition to pedestrians, be on the lookout for cyclists and other road users.

Regional statistics*:

  • About 450 people are injured in 1,300 crashes in the Lower Mainland over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 75 people are injured in 260 crashes on Vancouver Island over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 52 people are injured in 290 crashes in the Southern Interior over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

  • About 18 people are injured in 140 crashes in North Central B.C. over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Note: *Thanksgiving weekend crashes are calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to the holiday to midnight Monday. Fatality data is police data (5-year average, 2011-2015) and crash and injury data is ICBC data (5-year average, 2012 – 2016).

Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10% increase in motor-vehicle casualty crashes in B.C.

RICHMOND, BCOct. 2, 2017 /CNW/ – Last winter’s extreme conditions contributed to a 10 percent increase in motor-vehicle casualty crashes in B.C. between October and December, where driving too fast for the conditions was a contributing factor. This is a 10 per cent increase from 2015, when 570 casualty crashes occurred, as compared to 626 in 20161 (police-attended crashes, 2012–2016).

While last year’s weather was unusual for some parts of the province, on average, each year in British Columbia the number of casualty crashes due to driving too fast for conditions doubles in December compared to October. Between 2012 and 2016, an average of more than 260 casualty crashes occurred in December compared to approximately 130 in October (police-attended crashes, 2012-2016).

For those who drive for work, October, November and December are the most dangerous months. Almost 30 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time-loss claims occur during these three months.

In December 2016 alone, WorkSafeBC claims from crashes that resulted in injuries and lost time from work were 38 per cent higher than in December 2015.

Depending on where you drive in the province, winter road conditions vary, from snow and ice in the north and on high mountain passes, to rain and fog commonly found in the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island. Drivers need to prepare for the possibility of changing road and weather conditions, and adapt.

Between October 1 and March 31, most B.C. highways require passenger vehicles to have winter tires (three-peaked mountain and snowflake, or mud and snow) and commercial vehicles to carry chains. The Winter Driving Safety Alliance advises all drivers to prepare now to stay safe on the roads this winter:

  • Don’t go — If conditions are bad, postpone your trip if possible.
  • Plan your trip — If you have to travel, check road and weather conditions and select the safest route. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination to avoid rushing, and have an emergency plan if you get stuck.
  • Prepare your vehicle — Install a set of four matched winter tires and keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Every year, be sure to give your vehicle a pre-season maintenance check-up.
  • Slow down and drive to the conditions — Even the most confident and seasoned drivers are at risk in hazardous road conditions. Slow down to match road conditions and maintain a safe following distance, at least four seconds,between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • For employers and supervisors — The Winter Driving Safety online course and Toolkit on the Shift Into Winterwebsite provides useful information for planning, implementing and monitoring a winter-driving safety program.

For more information about what you can do to stay safe while driving this winter, visit ShiftIntoWinter.ca.

Quotes:

Hon. Harry Bains, Minister of Labour –
“I encourage all drivers to keep themselves, and others who use the road, safe in the wintry months ahead. Anything a driver can do to prevent an accident from occurring, whether it’s by slowing down, abiding by road signs, or being a little more present while driving, will help to keep more people safe.”

Hon. Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“We want to remind everyone to ensure their vehicle is prepped and ready for winter weather in advance. This means having proper winter tires (Mountain Snowflake or M+S tires) for certain routes, checking DriveBC before you head out, and giving yourself extra time to travel in bad weather conditions.”

Al Johnson, Vice President, Prevention Services, WorkSafeBC 
“Each and every worker in the province deserves to go home safely at the end of the day, whether they work in a fixed workplace or their office is on the road. Many BC workers who drive for work are at greater risk of injury during the winter months because driving conditions are more extreme. The Shift into Winter campaign reminds us why being prepared before road conditions deteriorate is so important – to prevent serious work-related injuries and deaths. Being prepared can save lives.”

About the Winter Driving Safety Alliance

This multi-agency working group shares a common goal of reducing the frequency and severity of winter-related motor vehicle crashes. Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. CUPE 873, BCAA, B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association, Mainroad Group, B.C. Forest Safety Council, B.C. Trucking Association, Finning, Government of B.C., Insurance Corporation of B.C., Justice Institute of British Columbia, Kal Tire, Pacific Coach Lines, RCMP, WorkSafeBC, Automotive Retailers Association, Trucking Safety Council of B.C., City of Prince George, and Tire and Rubber Association of Canada.

SOURCE Road Safety At Work

Winter Tire Season Begins

Snow Zone Winter Tire SignIs summer over already? It seems that the lawn is just coming out of dormancy in my yard but night time temperatures have dipped below 7 degrees. That and the fact that it is October the first means that it’s time to get winter tires installed. Winter tire and chain up routes are now in effect.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford a set of four winter tires, wheels and tire pressure sensors for both of our vehicles. I feel strongly enough about the effectiveness of using true winter tires instead of all season tires that I consider the cost money well spent.I have a set of chains for my two wheel drive pickup truck in addition to the four winter tires. I’ve been stuck with it before trying to drive on the greasy wet snow that quickly packs and polishes to ice here on the Island and that’s not going to happen again!

Studded winter tires are also a good choice, especially on black ice, but remember that if you have a front wheel drive vehicle you must purchase a set of four studded winter tires.

Having said that, I’ve also spent a few winters here with only all season tires on the vehicle and even with four wheel drive did occasionally have trouble. The all season tires did meet the definition of winter tires for the purposes of the signs posted on our highways by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure each year.

However, they are a trade off, both in terms of cost and performance. No one tire can handle all road conditions equally well, and this is true of winter tires being used in the summer.

The M+S marking on an all season tire tells us about the tread design. It has no connection with the rubber compound used to make the tread and it’s ability to stick to snow and ice.

Speaking of tread, winter tires are considered to be worn out when their minimum tread depth is twice that of summer or all season tires. Even then, the minimum tread depth may not be enough to keep you safe.

Most people think of winter tires in terms of traction to move the vehicle ahead. This is only part of the equation as true winter tires also help you turn and brake. Michelin has produced a video titled Winter Driving Tips on Braking that illustrates steering control difficulties created by mis-matched tires and how winter tires work with current vehicle safety systems.

You’ve probably heard it many times before, but adequate tires are not the only thing that you should consider having for winter driving. Being prepared for trouble with a shovel, tow rope, washer fluid, extra winter clothing, tools and a collection of small spare parts is never a bad idea.

You can’t always blame the road maintenance. There are some situations that even the best winter tires and chains cannot conquer. Know before you gois always good advice because sometimes the best choice is not to travel at all. Few of us must make trips in bad weather conditions that are more important than our health and well being.

Suggesting Driver At Fault for Collision Based on Past Convictions is “Frivolous”

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, describing the suggestion of deciding fault for a collision based in part on a motorist’s past driving convictions as ‘frivolous’.

In today’s case (Rezai v. Uddin) the Plaintiff was a pedestrian involved in a collision with the Defendant.  Fault was disputed.  Prior to trial the Plaintiff sought to amend her pleadings to allege “The Defendant Driver had on several previous occasions driven in a manner that put pedestrians and motorists at risk of injury” based on

a.   on Nov. 27, 2008, the defendant was charged with speeding, for which he plead guilty;

b.   on Dec. 4, 2008, the defendant was charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian on a green light, for which he plead guilty;

c.   on December 5, 2008, the defendant was charged with entering an intersection when the light was red for which he plead guilty;

d.   on March 11, 2009, the defendant was charged with speeding, for which he plead guilty;

e.   on January 17, [2015], the defendant was charged with using an electronic device while driving. He failed to appear at the hearing and was deemed not to dispute the charge.

The court rejected this request noting that past convictions likely do not constitute similar fact evidence.  In dismissing the application Master Wilson provided the following reasons:

[22]         The parties agree that there is no British Columbia authority on the issue of whether a pleading alleging similar fact evidence in the context of a prior driving record should be allowed in British Columbia. The defendant refers me to some Ontario authorities in support of his position that such pleadings are improper.

[23]         In Wilson v. Lind, (1985) 35 C.C.L.T. 95, O’Brien J. struck from the pleadings allegations of prior or subsequent impaired driving by the defendant. The application was brought on the basis that the allegations were prejudicial, scandalous or an abuse of process, a rule akin to our R. 9-5(1). At paragraph 12 the court held the following:

Our Courts have held for a long time, and for good reason, that prior negligence of a party is generally irrelevant to proof of subsequent negligence. …

[24]         I note that of the five driving infractions in our case, only two of them are for the same offence, namely speeding. Both were over five years old at the time of the accident. Indeed four of the five convictions were over five years old, with the fifth occurring some months after the accident. The defendant was not issued a violation ticket arising out of the accident.

[25]         The only possible purpose for Similar Fact Pleading here, given the variety of infractions, would be to enable the plaintiff to suggest that the defendant is a generally bad driver based on his driving record. However, this does not inform the analysis of whether or not he was responsible for the subject accident, any more than a clean driving record would tend to absolve him of responsibility.

[26]         It is highly improbable that the trial judge would admit the defendant’s prior infractions as similar fact evidence to support a finding of liability on the part of the defendant. Evidence of prior speeding infractions does not lead to the inference that the defendant was speeding at the time of the accident. Drivers often speed without receiving violation tickets. Proof of speeding does not conclusively establish negligence in the case of an accident. In Hamm Estate v. JeBailey (1974), 12 N.S.R. (2d) 27, evidence of driving record and habits was held to be irrelevant and inadmissible for the purpose of determining liability.

[27]         In Witten v. Bhardwaj, [2008] O.J. No. 1769, the court was asked to strike certain portions of a statement of claim that also involved a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The plaintiff had pleaded that the defendant had a ‘pattern of reckless conduct’ that included multiple speeding offences. The allegations of speeding in the Witten case were a year before and a year after the accident in issue.

[28]         After reviewing the decision of Wilson v. Lind, Master Haberman said that there were only two purposes for the plea about the defendant’s driving record and held the plea should be struck regardless of which applied:

The plaintiff’s purpose in including these additional allegations about Paawan’s driving patterns could only involve one of two issues: 1) to enable the plaintiff to ask the court to rely on Paawan’s driving record when assessing whether he was likely speeding at the time of this accident; or, 2) to provide “colour” for the court, so that Paawan will be viewed as a bad driver generally, and hence, be seen as likely responsible for this accident. If the former, what the plaintiff seeks to plead in the impugned portion of paragraph 15 is clearly evidence, not material fact, and on that basis should be struck. If the latter, it is frivolous and should be struck.

[29]         I agree. The Similar Fact Pleading is either evidence and therefore improper to include in a pleading, or is intended to suggest that the defendant is generally a bad driver and therefore he is more likely to be the cause of the subject accident, in which case it is frivolous.

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