#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.

ICBC asks drivers to be well rested and alert for the start of Daylight Saving Time

ICBC asks drivers to be well rested and alert for the start of Daylight Saving Time

ICBC is calling on drivers to get some extra rest this weekend to prepare for the shift to Daylight Saving Time.

Losing an hour of sleep may have an impact on your alertness and reaction time when driving. That’s why ICBC is reminding drivers to be make an extra effort to adapt to the spring time change.

With more daylight during the late afternoon and early evening commutes, comes darker mornings. So it’s important for drivers to be aware of the changes in visibility and variable weather conditions as winter technically turns to spring.

Here are ICBC’s top five tips to help drivers adjust to the time change:

  • Plan to get to bed early on Saturday night and go to bed at your regular time on Sunday to be ready for the Monday commute.
  • Be aware of how your body adapts to the time change and how that may affect your ability to concentrate and avoid hazards.
  • The shift in time may mean that you’re now driving home in brighter conditions. Make sure you have a pair of sunglasses in the car.
  • After many weeks of early sunrises and winter weather, expect darker morning commutes. To help improve visibility, clean all of your vehicle’s headlights and check that they’re all working properly.
  • Be prepared and watch for more cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians on the road as the weather improves. Remember to share the road.

It’s always important, no matter what time of the year, to avoid distractions while driving. Leave your phone alone.

Media contact

Sam Corea
604-982-2480

#eyesfwdbc – Distracted Driving Month in B.C.

#eyesfwdbc – Distracted Driving Month in B.C.

Hey you! Yeah, YOU, put the phone down and pay attention to where you’re driving! In 2015 police wrote over 44,000 traffic tickets for distracted driving violations in B.C. ICBC tells us that about 30% of crashes in B.C. involve driving while distracted. Recent changes to the distracted driving legislation saw fines change from $196 to $348 + $175 from 4 penalty points yet look around you in traffic and see how many drivers you can find with an electronic device in hand.

The last time that ICBC commissioned a poll on distracted driving almost everyone agreed that texting while driving was dangerous, but 40% of drivers with cell phones had used it while driving in the preceding six months.

There is no good time to drive while using an electronic device, but this month could be even more risky for those who can’t leave the phone alone. A press release from ICBC this week advises that:

ICBC, police and volunteers have worked together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province with over 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside this month. The aim is to give drivers the clear message that if they drive while distracted, they’re even more likely to be caught.

So, if we know that this is not a good idea, why do some of us do it? Perhaps we could ask the same question of impaired drivers, speeders or those who don’t stop at stop signs. I suspect that it’s a combination of putting one’s perceived needs ahead of everyone else, our rationalization that we’re good drivers so we can do this safely or we don’t think that there is much chance of being caught.

There is even talk of cell phone use being an addiction that creates a compulsion to use it regardless of the circumstances that we find ourselves in at the time.

We should be very concerned that the age group most likely to ignore the rules surrounding electronics and distraction are the younger drivers. They neither have the skills nor the experience of an accomplished driver yet they willingly take on the risk of divided attention while driving.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation has published a National Action Plan on Distracted Driving for Canada. While education, enforcement and legislation are in place, co-ordination among stakeholders is missing. Hopefully the formation of the Canadian Coalition on Distracted Driving will facilitate co-ordination going forward.

Ultimately, the solution to the problem comes down to the individual, that is me and you. Together we can do things like shutting off our phone when we get into the vehicle, install an app like OneTap that silences notifications while driving, refusing to talk or text with friends and familiy while they drive, pull over and park to text or make a call. Got the message?

Reference Links:

Government, ICBC and police unite for significant enforcement crackdown on distracted driving

Government, ICBC and police unite for significant enforcement crackdown on distracted driving

In a significant and concerted enforcement effort on distracted driving, ICBC, the B.C. government and police across the province are joining forces this month to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.

Despite tougher penalties and increased education, distracted driving still contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash fatalities in B.C., with an average of 78 people killed every year.

According to a recent Ipsos Reid survey conducted for ICBC, almost all drivers believe distracted driving has led to an increase in crashes; however, nearly 40 per cent admit to still using their device at least some of the time while driving.

In response, ICBC, police and volunteers have worked together to plan more enforcement deployments across the province with over 70 police enforcement events and over 50 Cell Watch deployments with volunteers roadside this month. The aim is to give drivers the clear message that if they drive while distracted, they’re even more likely to be caught.

Free ‘not while driving’ decals are available at ICBC driver licensing offices and participating Autoplan broker offices for drivers to support the campaign and encourage other road users to leave their phones alone.

The campaign features radio and digital advertising, as well as social media. You can view more tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
“We anticipate that this will be a significant enforcement effort to crack down on distracted driving since we introduced tough new penalties in 2016,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We believe these new penalties are helping to deliver the message to drivers to put away their electronic devices and focus on the road. Police enforcement efforts like this will help ensure those drivers who persist in breaking the law and use their devices behind the wheel will get caught.”

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
“Road safety is our top priority,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car fatalities in B.C. It’s crucial that drivers make it their top priority to stop driving distracted.”

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee
“Taking an integrated and focused approach, police across B.C. will be conducting concentrated enforcement on those who continue to use their phones while driving,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Putting away our cellphones needs to be as automatic as buckling up. It will require a conscious decision to change distracted driving behavior and it starts with each of us individually. Far too many drivers are putting themselves and others at risk. When you’re driving, focus on the road and leave your phone alone.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Director responsible for road safety
“You’re five times more likely to crash if you’re using your hand-held phone,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “More crashes and distracted driving are putting pressure on insurance rates. That’s why we’re committed to finding ways to reduce the number of crashes on our roads but we need everyone’s help—we all need to commit to driving without distractions.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Every year, on average, 26 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, on average, 8 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, on average, 32 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 14 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2011 to 2015. Distraction: where one or more of the vehicles involved had contributing factors including use of communication/video equipment, driver inattentive and driver internal/external distraction.

Media contact

Lindsay Olsen
604-982-4759

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