#DriveSmartBC: Perpetuating Mediocrity

New Driver SignsI once stopped a vehicle being driven at 96 km/h in a posted 50 km/h construction zone. Approaching the passenger side, I spoke with the woman in the front seat and the young lady driving. When I explained why I stopped them, the woman suggested that she was unable to get the driver to slow down, and maybe I could do something about it.

The driver produced a learner driver’s license and no L sign was displayed on the vehicle.

To me, the solution was simple. The woman should have denied her daughter access to the vehicle unless she was willing to follow the traffic rules. The conversation told me that this was a known issue rather than a one time lapse on the part of the driver.

After they had departed and I sat doing the notes for the violation ticket I had issued, I wondered to myself if maybe it wasn’t so simple. Perhaps this woman should not have been given the privilege of teaching her daughter to drive. If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary to drive correctly and safely.

Do parents read the Tuning Up for Drivers guide that their teen receives in the package with their new learner’s licence? The book contains 20 lessons to prepare for the class 7 road test presented in order for good skill development.

We all tend to think that we are better than average drivers, but I occasionally find myself in conversations with parents who tell me that their teen taught them about things that they were doing wrong when driving.

Yes, ICBC does test the new driver to see if they meet standards as they progress through the Graduated Licensing Program. These standards are much more stringent than they were when I took my driver’s test 30 years ago. The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

Perhaps this young lady would be better off taking the complete GLP package at a driving school. She will receive instruction in both the mechanics and the ethics of being a good driver that she might not be getting at home.

Currently Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan require a new driver to take formal training in order to get a full privilege driver’s licence. Given the level of complexity facing a learner driver today presented by both the vehicle and the driving environment, perhaps formal training should be mandatory in all provinces.

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Regulatory and Advisory Signs

Speed SignDrivers are often confused about the difference between a regulatory sign and an advisory sign. A regulatory sign generally has black characters or symbols on a white background and an advisory sign has black characters or symbols on a yellow background. So, what’s the difference?

The regulatory sign must be obeyed exactly as it is read. Examples of regulatory signs include speed limits, turn restrictions, parking restrictions and directional instructions. Failure to obey these signs is an offence and the driver may be charged if they choose not to follow the instruction.

If there is not a specific offence such as speeding or failing to stop for the regulatory sign, a traffic ticket for disobeying a traffic control device may be issued to the driver.

An advisory sign gives advance notice of conditions on or adjacent to a highway that are potentially hazardous to traffic. A driver may choose whether or not to follow the suggestion given by the sign. Ignoring the advice is not an offence in itself, but anything that happens because the signs are not given consideration may be an offence.

A common advisory sign is the large diamond shaped sign shows a black arrow on a yellow background telling drivers of a curve ahead. Underneath it is a smaller square sign with black lettering on a yellow background showing a speed of 30 km/h.

The example of the curve was chosen to illustrate a point. We have often seen these signs and then travelled around the curve comfortably at speeds higher than that suggested. In those cases the shape of the curve and the road condition could accommodate the vehicle travelling at the higher speed.

So why was the speed warning there? Often it is because the driver’s line of sight is restricted. This would prevent the driver from seeing and reacting to a hazard in or just beyond the corner unless the speed was at or less than that suggested. Heavy trucks may also be required to slow for the corner to prevent tipping over.

A relatively new (since 2012) advisory sign is black on a pink background. These signs warn of an emergency incident ahead and tell drivers to expect responders on the roadway. Proceed with caution as full temporary traffic control may not yet have been established.

Failure to obey an advisory sign is only an offence if something happens as a result of ignoring the advice and the offence is generally for the misadventure that occurs.

Need a quick brush up on what road signs mean? Drop by your local Driver Service Center (where you renew your driver’s licence) and ask for a free copy of Learn to Drive Smart. The signs, signals and road markings are explained in Chapter 3.

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ICBC cancelling all road tests due to COVID-19

March 17, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia, ICBC is taking a number of measures to protect the health and safety of its customers, partners and employees. These measures include suspending all driver road tests effective today, March 17, 2020, in line with public health recommendations around social distancing.

All motorcycle, passenger, and commercial road tests are cancelled until further notice. ICBC will reassess the situation in two weeks, taking into account public health recommendations and other operational considerations at that time.

All impacted customers scheduled to take road tests over the next week are being notified by ICBC that their appointment has been cancelled. ICBC will do its best to accommodate those impacted in rescheduling once ICBC returns to full operations.

ICBC undertakes approximately 7,500 road tests a week across the province. The tests, in most cases, involve ICBC driver examiners conducting a driving examination in an individual’s vehicle, in addition to some interaction at the Driver Licensing Office front counter. The cancellation of all road tests for the next two weeks impacts approximately 15,000 road tests.

Customers with scheduled road tests are encouraged to visit icbc.com for more information or to call 1-800-950-1498.

Other precautionary measures ICBC is taking to ensure the health and safety of our customers and staff include:

At all ICBC offices:

  • Continuing to direct any customers who are sick or have travelled outside Canada (in the last 14 days) not to enter any of our offices, and turning away customers if needed

  • Requesting people to pay traffic tickets or other fines via phone or mail, not in person

  • Limiting the number of customers in office waiting areas

  • Increasing cleaning and sanitization in all our facilities and offices

At Driver Licensing Offices:

  • Asking COVID-19 screening questions

At claims centres:

  • Restricting appointments and drop-in visits to urgent transactions only

At head office:

  • Suspending walk-in service for vehicle insurance customers

ICBC continues to review our operations as the situation evolves to support the safety of our customers and employees, including reviewing of opportunities in which brokers can issue and renew insurance policies over the phone.  More information will be provided on any changes to our operations as soon as possible.

ICBC is committed to following the recommendations from federal and provincial public health agencies in consultation with government. Please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website (bccdc.ca) for more information on COVID-19 including preventative measures and when to seek medical attention.

Ignore Them, They’ll Go Away

delete keyLast September the Parents Advisory Committee (PAC) at the Ecole Oceanside Elementary School in Parksville asked me to help establishing a crossing guard program for what they considered to be a dangerous intersection at one corner of the school grounds. In past, the principal had raised the issue of liability concerns that needed to be looked into and that was the end of the conversation.

This year, with a little bit of research and advice from another school that had a crossing guard program this program was backed by the new principal. The request made it as far as school district’s Operations and Maintenance / Transportation manager according to the PAC, where it stalled yet again.

The head of the PAC has now stopped responding to requests for an update on the progress of their project.

The strategy of Ignore Them, They’ll Go Away seems to have been successfully adopted by many levels of government today. From the perspective of gathering information for this site, RoadSafetyBC is the worst, TranBC along with the RCMP are somewhere in the middle and ICBC has been the best, although they are now beginning to ignore e-mail requests as well.

In all cases, if you agenda matches theirs, information is forthcoming, often surprisingly quickly. The people at RoadSafetyBC spent a lot of effort assisting me in creating a unit on the Enhanced Road Assessment for my ElderCollege course. However, ask if there has been any follow up research on 2015’s B.C. Communities Road Safety Survey to see if there have been improvements and the e-mail enters a black hole.

At this point I would even be happy with an auto response telling me that my message has been received. It would be a simple matter to include information about how requests are triaged and what to do if a response is not received within a reasonable amount of time.

When I was working in traffic enforcement I was occasionally reminded by the driver I was dealing with that they were the ones that paid my wages. Yes, I did work for them but sometimes that work was not what they wanted me to be doing. Still, they had a point and I had an obligation. Government seems to forget this too.

On the other hand, I can imagine that with the ability to e-mail some government contacts being so simple, many of us do it. There must be a huge volume of e-mail to deal with and people do make mistakes.

To come full circle to the PAC request, if they considered their crossing guard program and decided that it was the best solution, they should be prepared to persist in the face of silence. The group should not quit until they are either successful or are shown that there is a better way to deal with the problem.

#JustDrive – SGI: 284 impaired driving offences reported in January

Feb 25, 2020

Getting arrested for driving impaired is a terrible way to start off the new year, as 284 people found out in January.

The January spotlight found police across the province reporting 231 Criminal Code charges for impaired driving and 53 roadside administrative suspensions.

While many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, it’s important to commit to drive sober or plan a safe ride home when you know you’ll be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Saskatchewan has tough consequences for impaired drivers, and impaired driving is the leading cause of death on Saskatchewan roads.

Distracted driving tickets decline for third consecutive month

The number of reported distracted driving offences continued to trend lower in January after seeing significant drops in both November and December. Police reported 509 tickets issued last month (including 405 for cellphone use).

Remember, distracted driving penalties increased Feb. 1, but police officers were keeping a close eye on distracted drivers long before the change, and will continue to focus on this issue.

In January, police in Saskatchewan also reported the following:

  • 428 tickets related to seatbelts and car seats and,
  • 5,563 tickets for speeding and aggressive driving.

February’s Traffic Safety Spotlight continues to be on distracted driving. Avoiding a big ticket (plus demerits, and vehicle impoundment for a repeat offence) is easy. Leave the phone alone, be wary of other behaviours that might distract you, and #JustDrive.

ICBC unveils new road safety school resources

ICBC unveils new road safety school resources

As part of ICBC’s commitment to promoting a safe driving culture in B.C., ICBC has developed new road safety learning resources to help teachers give children and young adults the foundation they need to stay safe.

Designed for students from preschool to grade 10, teachers can now download road safety resources for free at icbc.com. The material is divided by grade level, and each grade has a teachers’ manual and handout booklet for students.

“I’m impressed with all the materials available to us,” said David Evans, teacher, South Island Distance Education. “There are activities and worksheets for all grade levels and ties back to the new learning standards. Thank you for helping us improve ways to be safer in our community.”

“Whether it’s learning how to safely cross the road, or understanding the rules of a four-way stop, road safety is important for all British Columbians,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president of public affairs and driver licensing. “As part of our commitment to promoting a safe driving culture in B.C., we’ve developed these road safety resources to help give children and young adults the tools they need to stay safe, now and in the future.”

The new material is downloadable, searchable and easily printable in its PDF format. The redesigned school materials align with the Ministry of Education’s new curriculum guidelines, which include:

  • incorporating Core Competencies, Big Ideas, and Learning Standards through the Know-Do-Understand model
  • focusing on personal safety, personal awareness, and personal/social responsibility
  • integrating the First Peoples Principles of Learning perspectives

Learn more about these resources available to educators at icbc.com/4teachers.

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