#wecandrivebetter: SGI and police focusing on commercial vehicle safety throughout August

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A Pedestrian with a Death Wish

Walk SignalThe collision counter on this web site estimates 33 pedestrian deaths and 1374 pedestrian injury collisions in BC to July 29, 2015. I almost added to that number driving in Vancouver last weekend and the incident still has me shaking my head. I can’t believe that a pedestrian could be that stupid!

I had stopped for a red light in the downtown area and intended to make a right turn. After the pedestrian signal went red and the people had crossed, I pulled across the marked crosswalk and stopped again where I could see cross traffic well. I found my gap and was about to proceed when I looked right and found a pedestrian right in front of me crossing against the light. He was busy with his cell phone and was wearing earbuds and never even looked at me as he walked around the car.

He probably owes some of his good fortune to my wife who yelled and made sure that I hit the brakes before I drove over him.

The courts say that we can expect to proceed as if other road users will obey the laws. What that really means is if I had hit this person, he would probably have been assessed most of the fault for the collision. However, he was there to be seen and I would have bourne some of the blame too. Thank goodness it never came to that!

Police wrote only 210 tickets to pedestrians for failing to obey pedestrian signals in all of the province in 2014. It would appear that you have little risk of being called to account for this selfish behaviour.

Reference Links:

  • 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 ten 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 site.
Don’t be a statistic this long weekend, warns ICBC

Don’t be a statistic this long weekend, warns ICBC

Don’t become a stat! Over BC Day long weekend!

Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, five people are killed and 530 injured in crashes across the province.* Fifty of these crashes are a result of impaired driving.

The B.C. government, police and ICBC are asking drivers heading off on road trips this weekend to make smart choices and warning that CounterAttack roadchecks will be set up across the province to keep impaired drivers off our roads.

ICBC’s top tips for road trips this weekend:

  1. Most crashes this weekend occur on Friday so plan to leave on Thursday or Saturday morning if possible to avoid traffic congestion and possible delays. You should also make sure you get a good night’s sleep to avoid getting fatigued behind the wheel. Plan your route on drivebc.ca and include rest breaks or switch drivers every two hours.

  2. Do a pre-trip check and check your engine oil, coolant levels and lights, and inspect your vehicle tires, including the spare, to make sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. Make sure any camping or outdoor equipment is securely tied down to your vehicle before you take off.
  3. Summer means a high number of motorcyclists on our roads so it’s vital to scan as you approach an intersection. Be ready to yield the right-of-way when turning left and keep in mind that it can be hard to tell how fast motorcyclists are travelling.
  4. Be patient with R.V. drivers if they’re travelling below the speed limit in mountainous areas as they’re likely going uphill as fast as they can. If you’re driving your RV this weekend, be courteous and pull over when it’s safe to do so to let others by. This is much safer than a driver making an unsafe pass out of frustration.
  5. If you’re away from home, you may not be familiar with all of the options available to get home safely after you’ve had a few drinks. Check your options such as taxis, transit or shuttle services before you head out and program the information into your cell phone so you can relax knowing you have a plan to get home safely.

Quotes:

Attorney General and Minister of Justice

“Long weekends are a time of heightened road activity and it’s imperative we all make safe choices on the road,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “It’s unacceptable to drive while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and B.C.’s law enforcement and road safety partners will be making every effort to ensure British Columbians remain safe this long weekend. If you plan to drink, plan an alternative way home that considers the lives of all road users.”

ICBC’s director of road safety

“Take your turn as the designated driver this summer to help your friends and family get home safely,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director of road safety. “If your activities involve alcohol, plan ahead for a safe ride home – arrange a designated driver, call a taxi or take transit.”

Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“There’s simply no excuse for impaired driving,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will be setting up Counterattack roadchecks across the province to catch impaired drivers this long weekend so our roads stay safe for everyone.”

Regional statistics*:

  • Over the B.C. day long weekend, on average, 340 people are injured in 1,200 crashes in theLower Mainland every year.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 94 people are injured in 360 crashes in theSouthern Interior every year.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 28 people are injured in 110 crashes in North Central B.C. every year.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, on average, 61 people are injured in 270 crashes onVancouver Island every year.

*Five year annual average. Crash and injury data is ICBC data (2009 to 2013). Fatality data is police data (2009 to 2013). B.C. Day long weekend is calculated from 18:00 the Friday prior to B.C. Day to midnight on B.C. Day.

Media contact:
Lindsay Olsen
604-982-4759

Road maintenance: More Advance Warning Needed

men working signWhen the road maintenance contractors undertake work on our highways they are hard to miss. The Traffic Control Manual for Work on Roadways tells them all about setting out advance warnings to give drivers plenty of opportunity to realize that they are approaching a hazard. What is often missing is the equivalent for short term, small scale occurrences. This had added importance now that we have the slow down, move over law.

The Motor Vehicle Act is very straight forward, if you are doing work on a highway, you must post traffic control devices indicating that there are workers or equipment present. This means that a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device must be in place, ideally with sufficient distance to give drivers time to anticipate and react. A flashing yellow light alone is not sufficient.

The Act also requires that traffic control devices be placed to restrict the speed of traffic in a work area. If speed signs are not posted, then other devices must be placed to restrict the manner in which the vehicles are to proceed on the highway.

It’s worthwhile as part of this discussion to examine what is meant by the word highway. Most of us tend to think of main highways and freeways, but a highway also includes streets, lanes and pathways that the public uses to drive vehicles on, and that includes the shoulder. Working on the shoulder rather than in the travelled lanes does not excuse the need to place sufficient warnings.

Reference Links:

  • 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 ten 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 site.
ICBC calls on drivers to reduce motorcycle crashes this summer

ICBC calls on drivers to reduce motorcycle crashes this summer

ICBC is urging drivers to watch out for motorcyclists on our roads as ridership and crashes peak in summer, with six riders injured every day in July and August in B.C.*

Vehicle drivers are at fault in nearly 80 per cent of crashes with motorcycles where the rider is seriously injured.* Distracted driving and failing to yield the right-of-way are the top contributing factors for drivers in crashes with motorcyclists.**

Approximately 34 per cent of crashes involve only motorcycle riders.* Inattention/distraction and speed are the top contributing factors for riders in crashes.**

Tips for drivers:

  • Watch carefully for motorcycles as they’re harder to see at dusk, at night, in heavy traffic and bad weather.

  • Look twice for motorcycles at intersections and be ready to yield the right-of-way when turning left.

  • Give lots of space when passing a motorcycle and allow at least three seconds following distance when you’re behind a motorcycle.

  • Make eye contact whenever possible to let motorcyclists know that you’ve seen them.

Tips for riders:

  • Protect yourself from serious injury by always wearing safety gear designed for riding and a helmet that meets DOT, Snell M2005, M2010, M2015 or ECE safety standards.

  • Choose gear that gives you the best chance of being seen—bright colours and reflective materials. Do your best to stay out of drivers’ blind spots.

  • Prior to reaching a curve, plan your path through it. Reduce your speed and adjust your lane position. Always look in the direction you want to go.

  • Read other drivers’ language—never assume they’ve seen you or will give you the right of way. They may not accurately judge your distance or speed of approach.

  • When approaching an intersection, adjust your lane position and reduce your speed so you’ll have time to stop if you need to.

Get more tips for drivers and riders on icbc.com.

Statistics:

  • In the Lower Mainland, on average, 180 motorcyclists are injured and three are killed in crashes in July and August every year.

  • On Vancouver Island, on average, 70 motorcyclists are injured and two are killed in crashes in July and August every year.

  • In the Southern Interior, on average, 80 motorcyclists are injured and six are killed in crashes in July and August every year.

  • In the North Central region, on average, 20 motorcyclists are injured and three are killed in crashes in July and August every year.

  • On average, 350 motorcyclists are injured and 13 are killed in car crashes in July and August every year in B.C.

Quotes:

“Drivers need to do more to prevent motorcycle crashes and watch carefully for riders,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Riders also need to do their part by staying focused on the road and driving to the conditions, particularly when navigating curves or approaching an intersection.”

“We want everyone to enjoy the great riding weather in B.C. – with a helmet and protective safety gear as appropriate,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “Drivers should consider that motorcyclists are at greater risk of fatal crashes in B.C. Although motorcycles account for only three per cent of vehicles on our roads, they represent 11 per cent of road fatalities.”

“Too often police officers see the devastating results of motorcycle crashes,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “We’re asking motorcycle riders and their passengers to be visible, dress appropriately, pay attention and focus on driving because we don’t want you to be a statistic. And to other drivers, please be alert to motorcycles – give them their space and remember that there are no minor incidents involving motorcycles.”

“In B.C., more than six in 10 car crashes involving motorcycles happen at intersections,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “It can be hard to judge how fast a motorcycle is travelling, so drivers need to watch carefully when turning left and be ready to yield the right-of-way. Whether you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a car, do your part to share our roads safely and keep your mind on the road.”

*ICBC (injury) and police (fatality) data from 2009 to 2013.

**Top contributing factors assigned to drivers in car crashes in B.C. involving cyclist injury or fatality based on 2009 to 2013 police data.

Note annual motorcycle crash data by city/community is also available.

Media contact:
Lindsay Olsen
604-839-5650

Car Jail for the Vehicles of Careless Smokers

Vehicle ImpoundWe’re facing one of the more serious forest fire seasons that British Columbia has seen in recent memory. Many of these fires are caused by human activity with one of the common activities being the careless disposal of cigarette butts. The provincial government has proposed that when the careless disposal occurs from within a motor vehicle, the vehicle should be impounded for a period of time. Will this idea die a quiet death or if the pace of new fires continues, do you think this is a good solution?

I’m convinced that many smokers flick a butt out of their vehicle without thinking. It was not uncommon to stop a violator and see them take a last drag as I walked up to the vehicle and then watch the butt arc out the window onto the ground. I would offer them the opportunity to retrieve it or suggest I would do it for $81 if they didn’t want to. Inevitably the person would get out and pick the butt up, but not without some thought about whether I was serious or not first.

This is a general safety problem which occurs in many contexts other than those involving a vehicle. Why should we consider using a road safety tool to deal harshly with only part of a wide ranging problem? Is something of an equivalent nature being planned for a hiker who tosses a still burning butt down on a trail or a city stroller who uses a mulched planter instead of an ashtray? If not, we should consider passing on the idea of a vehicle impound.

Why do we seem so reluctant to use people jail on those who put us all at risk? Car jail immediately halts dangerous driving behaviour because there is a direct relation to the problem. While there are probably many sides to the issue of jailing people not the least being that it can happen long after the offence it might be a better choice to focus the mind of careless smokers.

Reference Links:

  • Articles on DriveSmartBC Related to This Topic
  • Cost Recovery & Administrative Remedies – Wildfire Act
  • Offences – Wildfire Act
  • 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 ten 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 site.

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