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 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

#RoadSafety: Make Way to Give Way

Sirens! I’m being overtaken by an ambulance on the way to a call. Signal, move out of the right lane onto the shoulder and stop. Traffic around me seems to be well aware today too as they are doing much the same thing.

Emergency right of way is being granted promptly until the ambulance reaches traffic stopped for a red light at an intersection. This is where the emergency response grinds to a halt as the stationary drivers don’t seem to be either willing or able to get out of the way.

Thank goodness it didn’t take long for the signal override to function and the traffic lights to turn green. That seemed to open the dam on the traffic stream and the ambulance was on it’s way again.

Part of the problem is that we are not prepared for a situation like this in everyday driving. How often have you been stopped at a red light and then been called on to make way for police, fire or ambulance vehicles racing to an emergency? Without practice it does take longer to act in any situation because we don’t have any experiece to act on.

The next time you find yourself stopped in traffic at a red light, imagine that you have to make room for a sudden emergency. Will you move to the left or to the right? Have you left yourself enough room to move forward? If you are at the front of the line, did you stop far enough back from cross traffic?

The law requires that you move to the nearest edge of the roadway. On a two lane highway with traffic in either direction, that would be to the right. On a highway with a barrier between directions or on a one way street with more than one lane, you may have to move right or left depending on which side you are on.

In any event, use your signal light and do what you are indicating that you will do.

When you stop behind another vehicle at a red light, you should always be able to see pavement between the hood of your vehicle and the bottom of the rear tires of the vehicle in front. If you are on a hill and behind a heavy truck or new driver with a standard transmission, you might want to leave a larger gap as a precaution or courtesy.

This serves two purposes, giving you room to move aside in and keeping you from being part of the accordion in a rear end collision.

Did you stop far enough back from the intersection, behind the marked stop line or crosswalk? Many drivers do not and this seriously limits their ability to move forward and to one side without coming into conflict with other traffic in the intersection.

Having stopped properly, you have at least the width of the crosswalk in front of you to move forward into without actually entering the intersection itself. This may be all that you need to be able to get to one side or the other to clear a path.

One last thought and that is to be prepared for an emergency vehicle whose driver chooses to drive on the wrong side of the median barrier approaching a clogged intersection. It is legal to do this if it is done safely, so if you are oncoming traffic to an emergency vehicle you must be prepared to yield for more than just a left turn in the intersection.

ICBC looks at anti-distracted driving technology

ICBC looks at anti-distracted driving technology

As part of ICBC and the B.C. government’s continued commitment to reducing distracted driving, today ICBC posted a Request for Information (RFI) on B.C. Bid for market research and technology aimed at reducing distracted driving.

ICBC is interested in understanding what technological solutions are available in the marketplace to limit or prevent driver distraction resulting from the use of personal electronic devices while driving.

Exploring available anti-distracted driving technology is just one possible way to address the problem of drivers using personal electronic devices. ICBC and government remain committed to finding ways to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving.

Last month, ICBC, government and police launched a month-long distracted driving campaign to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.

In support, enhanced police enforcement targeting distracted drivers was increased and Cell Watch volunteers were roadside in support of the campaign. B.C. drivers can also show their support by displaying a ‘not while driving’ decal on their vehicle, available for free at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices.


Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
“Keeping British Columbians safe on the road is our number one focus,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Exploring new anti-distracted driving solutions in the marketplace aims to do just that, while staying current in today’s digital world. But despite our best efforts it starts with drivers committing to driving distractions-free.”

Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crash fatalities in B.C. – and each one of them is 100% preventable. Our tough penalties are driving home the message that distracted driving will cost you, but when lives are at stake, it’s just as important to look at all preventative options, like new technology, so we can keep our roads safe.”

Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO
“We’re looking at every option to deter distracted driving including the potential use of new technologies,” said Mark Blucher, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We understand the temptations of glancing at a ringing phone or received text message while on the road, so we’re exploring every option to prevent distracted driving. ICBC’s rates are under considerable pressure from a significant increase in crashes and we’re doing all we can to keep people safe and rates as low as possible.”

Media contact

Sam Corea

#RoadSafety – We’ve Got a Serious Attitude Problem

#RoadSafety – We’ve Got a Serious Attitude Problem

Sometimes when I read articles on road safety I come across one that really resonates with me. A story from 2008 written by Paul Hergott titled Drivers Need to Smarten Up When Out on the Road is one of them. Paul starts off by saying “We’ve got ourselves a serious attitude problem. We see driving as a right.”

Very little has changed since then except perhaps that this attitude is becoming even more prevalent on our roads in 2017.

Paul goes on to say “We then put a whole lot of police resources into enforcing those basic rules of the road. The enforcement, though, is hardly compelling. The fines associated with blowing through red lights and speeding are nothing more than slaps on the wrist.”

This is an area where I have some experience, having spent about 25 years writing traffic tickets to drivers, trying to change the attitude of the motoring public.

In order to be effective, drivers who do not follow the rules need to believe that there will be consequences for not doing so. The chance of being caught must be seen as significant and once justifiably ticketed for an offence, there should be a proportionate penalty impressed.

If you continue to ignore the rules, you should find yourself without the privilege of driving for a time.

I knew the size of my patrol area and how many of my co-workers were on the road at any one time. From that knowledge alone, I knew that there was little chance that most drivers would see me or my partner during a shift much less risk being issued a ticket.

We would often remark on traffic enforcement that we did not encounter when driving around the province while on leave, marveling at the distance we could travel and not encounter a marked police vehicle doing traffic enforcement.

Why count marked police vehicles? Probably because the majority of the traffic enforcement fleet is a fully marked car. Even the unmarked cars tended to be Fords or Chevys with black steel wheels and a forest of antennae on the roof.

The use of non-standard unmarked vehicles of many varieties that regularly move among the traffic units would go a long way toward keeping habitual offenders watching their rear view mirrors.

Unless you have a significant driving record and have committed a particularly serious offence, there is no risk in disputing the allegation in a traffic ticket. The worst that will likely happen is that you will have to pay the amount shown on the ticket.

I’ll leave a driving prohibition up to the Superintendent is a common response made by the court to a request by the Crown during the penalty phase of a trial.

If you are not part of the Graduated Licencing Program you cannot complain about the Superintendent being heavy handed. Under the Driver Improvement Program a driver has to accumulate fifteen to nineteen penalty points within a 2 year period before a prohibition might occur.

Excessive speeding, driving without due care and attention, driving without reasonable consideration for others or using an electronic device while driving are the exceptions to the rule. They are classed as high risk driving offences and if you are convicted twice in a one year period a prohibition will occur.

Our current system of enforcement likely works well enough for the average citizen who generally tries to follow the rules. What Paul describes as a slap on the wrist is not much of a deterrent for those drivers who put themselves ahead of everyone else in traffic.

#RoadSafety: Convenience vs Catastrophe

Some incidents encountered during a career in policing stick with you for life and sometimes resurface later on as lessons learned. This memory involved a mother dropping her young son off for a birthday party by pulling over and stopping on the right side of the street. He exited the car and excited to join the festivities, ran to the back and darted across the street. He was struck and killed by a passing vehicle.

I was sent to the hospital at the beginning of the investigation to check on the mother and child because we did not know of the child’s condition at the time. I knew the woman personally because her older son was in the Cub Pack I volunteered with as a leader. Her anguish was terrible to see and I have no doubt that she will spend the rest of her life wishing that she had taken the extra time to pull into the driveway and let her son out of the car on safe ground.

One of my co-workers dealt with the driver of the vehicle that struck the boy so I did not get to see him. Do you think that he will ever forget that day? How many times will he go over the incident in his mind and try to see what he could have done to produce a different outcome?

All of this flashed through my mind when I followed behind a pickup truck one morning last week. Children wait for the school bus on the side of the street near my home. There were already children and adults waiting ahead on my right.

The pickup moved over into the oncoming lane and stopped across from the group. Instant deja vu.

I slowed immediately and proceeded at a walking pace between the group and the pickup, watching both sides for movement across the road. No one crossed and I was able to pass by safely.

What was going on in the mind of the pickup driver? Why not pull over to the right side of the street and stop? The vehicle had no businesess being on the wrong side of the road. In addition, the stop must be made with the vehicle at the right hand edge of the roadway.

All the driver had really done was managed to add more confusion to the situation.

In retrospect, despite what I had remembered from my past, the confusion here extended to me as well.

I had a duty not to collide with a pedestrian, especially a child, and in this situation had already inferred the possibility of one being present.

In general, you are required to pass by an overtaken vehicle on the left. There is an exception to this rule when there is an unobstructed lane on the right, as there was here. However, that pass on the right can only be done if it is safe to do. Both the pickup on the wrong side of the road and the possibility of a child getting out of it to wait for the school bus made the circumstances unsafe.

I should have stopped and stayed stopped until the situation resolved itself. Moving into a position of possible conflict regardless of how slow I was going was a poor choice.

Sometimes we can make all manner of errors when we drive and it still turns out all right in the end. However, don’t let those errors become the default setting.

RoadSafety: VIDEO – This Season’s Killer Look

video iconThis video comes to us through the Road Safety Authority of Ireland. It draws attention to the serious risk presented by wearing a shoulder belt under the arm instead of over the shoulder. According to the information, this is a common occurrence among young women. Unfortunately, it does not carry on to explain how shorter statured people can make the shoulder belt both effective and comfortable to wear properly.

Takata advises that the shoulder belt should fall across the center of the collar bone when properly worn. So, what happens when there is no way to adjust the shoulder belt down and the the seat does not rise far enough to get you there? The best that I can do is point you to the nearest dealer for your make of vehicle to ask them for advice because my searches for information on the internet hasn’t turned up anything reliable to point to. If you have a good resource, please let us know using the Contact link under About DriveSmartBC at the top of the page.

I have seen people do things like putting a clip on the seatbelt at the D ring on the pillar to force slack into the shoulder belt. This is a bad solution because during a collision slack seatbelts do not protect properly. I also see things for sale called seatbelt “adjusters” aimed at shorter people. Unless these products can show approval markings from Transport Canada or some other reputable testing agency it would be wise to save your money and not purchase them.


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.

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