DriveSafeBC: Is It Safe to Open Your Door?

Open Car DoorImagine the surprise of the motorist at a collision I once investigated. He parked at the side of the road, opened his door, and a passing car tried to tear it off! It’s a good thing he didn’t step out while he opened the door.

What went wrong here? The motorist didn’t look first, or didn’t see what was overtaking him. He probably felt safe in the fact that he had stopped close to the curb and was out of harm’s way.

In the case of a driver or front seat passenger, there is a mirror present to help see if anything is overtaking the vehicle before you open the door. A quick shoulder check is also a good preventative measure to turn into a habit.

For back seat passengers the rear roof pillar and lack of a mirror can make this task almost impossible.

The Dutch Reach is the best solution for all vehicle occupants use. Open the door with the hand that is on the opposite side of your body from it. This forces your body to rotate toward the door and allows you to look backward through the gap before the door opens very far. If something is there, hopefully there is enough room to avoid a crash.

Today’s highways are no longer designed so that traffic is always on the left side of a parked vehicle. Be cautious of cycle lanes that may be on the right side of parking areas.

Failing to look or see when you open your door poses a significant threat to cyclists often referred to as dooring or being doored. They must use the right hand edge of the roadway and are difficult to see because of their size. The cyclist that slams into an opening car door can be seriously injured.

Cycle lanes designed without a buffer do not eliminate the hazard.

Opening a door from the outside can be a problem as well. It is not uncommon to see a driver walk up to their vehicle and open the door to enter without giving any thought to overtaking traffic. Passing vehicles may be forced to move to the left or stop in order to avoid a collision.

Section 203 of the Motor Vehicle Act forbids opening the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so. Once a door on that side is open, it must not be left open for longer than is required to load or unload passengers.

ICBC provides Drive Smart tips for holiday shopping season

ICBC provides Drive Smart tips for holiday shopping season

As the holiday shopping season officially kicks off this week, ICBC is asking drivers to prioritize safety over finding the perfect parking spot. Last year, there were about 96,000 crashes that happened in parking lots.*

ICBC receives hundreds of thousands of claims every year, with vehicle damage costs totaling $1.33 billion in 2018 alone.

While some may believe that driving in parking lots is ‘safer’ than highway driving, parking lots present drivers with other challenges such as increased congestion and heavy pedestrian activity. The holiday season could add a layer of distraction with people apt to be more preoccupied with their shopping list or finding a parking spot.

Drivers are encouraged to apply a bit of holiday cheer, be courteous and have a bit more patience during this time of year with these Drive Smart tips from ICBC:

  • The rules of the road still apply, even on private property where the public is invited to park. Don’t use your phone while driving, even in parking lots. Program your navigation or holiday tunes before you put your car in gear.
  • Have your car facing out in your parking spot: This position is safest for drivers because it helps you avoid the risk of reversing into a lane with potential blind spots when leaving.
  • Park further away, if you can: Instead of circling endlessly to get a spot that’s closest to the mall entrance, pick a spot that’s further away. You’ll avoid a high-traffic area where you’re more likely to crash with another vehicle or hit a pedestrian.
  • Slow down and be on alert: Drivers should drive slowly in parking lots to have enough time to react to an unexpected vehicle backing out of their parking spot or an unanticipated pedestrian, especially young children, who may be harder to see.
  • Pay attention to the arrows and stop signs: Many parking lots are quite narrow, restricting certain lanes to a single direction. Pay attention to the signs and markings on the road to avoid getting into a crash.
  • Don’t block traffic: Deciding to follow a shopper, then waiting for them to load their car, buckle up and leave, jams up traffic behind you and likely takes you much longer than if you had just found a spot further away. Sitting idle in a lane can leave you vulnerable to a collision, and you could be blocking other drivers who are trying to leave.
  • Let it go: No sense in having a showdown with another driver for a parking spot. Move along, and maybe that good karma will net you something really nice this season.

Statistics

  • About 96,000 crashes occurred in parking lots in 2018. About 4,300 resulted in casualties and 92,000 resulted in damages only.

  • 480 pedestrians were injured in parking lot collisions last year.
  • There were 4,000 reported instances of theft from a vehicle in a parking lot last year

Shopping bag giveaway

As always, ICBC reminds all shoppers to keep their belongings with them or out of sight in their vehicle.

ICBC will be talking to customers about driving safely and handing out a limited quantity of large, reusable shopping bags at the following locations:

  • Highstreet Mall, Abbotsford: Friday, November 29th from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. ICBC and Police will be handing out bags in the Central Plaza.
  • Pacific Centre, Vancouver: Saturday, November 30th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or until supplies last. Look for volunteers from West End Coal Harbour Community Policing and Granville Community Policing Centres with ICBC, handing out bags at the Easy Park Parking Lot.
  • Coquitlam Centre Mall, Coquitlam: Saturday, December 6th from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ICBC and RCMP will be handing out bags near the food court.
  • Pine Centre Mall, Prince George: Thursday, December 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ICBC and Operation Red Nose’s mascot, Rudy the reindeer, will be handing out bags at the main entrance.

* 2018 vehicle claims data. Rounded to the nearest thousand.

DYK: Nearly half of Canadian drivers think vehicle safety technology poses a risk to road safety

DYK: Nearly half of Canadian drivers think vehicle safety technology poses a risk to road safety

Over-reliance on technology and lack of education cited as main factors

Toronto, ON, November 27, 2019 – Your vehicle brakes automatically to avoid a collision. It beeps to warn you if there is a car in your blind spot. The steering wheel vibrates if you unintentionally drift out of your lane or start crossing lanes without signalling. A light flashes to warn you of a risk of a frontal collision. These features are all designed to make driving safer, but nearly half of Canadian drivers also think they pose a risk to road safety, according to a recent survey released by Desjardins Insurance.Increasingly, vehicles on our roads are equipped with highly sophisticated safety features to prevent crashes or warn drivers of unsafe conditions. While a majority of drivers agree that these safety features are needed to make our roads safer (51%), the survey data suggests more needs to be done to ensure drivers not only understand what these features are meant to do, but also what they don’t guard against.

“While studies clearly show that crash avoidance and other safety systems in newer cars are reducing collisions and saving lives, the survey’s findings are enough to give us pause. They are an important reminder that no matter how sophisticated the safety systems, the driver’s vigilance and attention are essential to ensure safe driving, both for the people in the vehicle and those who share the road with motorists,” said Alain Hade, Vice-President, Marketing and Member Client Experience at Desjardins Insurance.

Among the survey’s highlights, it was found that:
  • 48% of drivers think vehicle safety technologies pose a risk to road safety
  • 46% of drivers think Canadian drivers are over-reliant on vehicle safety technologies
  • 80% think there should be more education on how to use safety features in vehicles
  • 63% of Canadians, drivers or not, feel advanced safety technology can contribute to distraction among drivers
However, the survey did reveal some positive points, including:
  • 52% of drivers believe vehicle safety features help reduce the number of collisions
  • 51% of drivers feel vehicle safety features are needed to keep our roads safer

“It’s important that driver knowledge of safety features and confidence in them is on the rise, particularly as they are exposed to features that are increasingly standard on new vehicles,” said Robyn Robertson, President and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “Caution is warranted in the promotion of safety features and their benefits to ensure Canadians understand the functionality and limitations of them, and to discourage drivers from relying on them in situations for which they were not designed.”

Are we ready for autonomous vehicles?
With most car manufacturers expected to unveil semi- or fully autonomous vehicles in the not-too-distant future, it is clear Canadians are somewhat reluctant to fully embrace the technology. According to survey results, less than a third of Canadians who expressed an opinion on that matter (28%) say they would trust being driven in a fully autonomous vehicle.

“These results lead us to believe that people experienced with the technology have confidence in vehicle safety systems, but not blindly,” added Hade. “Drivers need to be well informed about the car they’re driving before getting behind the wheel. This means knowing what the features and technology can and cannot do. Safety technologies are important to prevent injuries and fatalities, but they also have limitations.”

Impact on insurance
Half (52%) believe the safety systems help reduce the number of crashes; however, they rely on costly electronic components and sensors that also have a direct impact on the cost of repairing a vehicle. Between 2009 and 2016, the average cost of a two-vehicle collision (at-fault and not-at-fault) jumped 30%.

Trouble After a Vehicle Purchase

raised pickup truckThis inquiry arrived in the DriveSmartBC inbox last Thursday: “I bought a used newer truck from a dealership and was told prior to signing the final documents that the truck had gone through a full safety inspection. Less than two weeks later I was pulled over and issued a ticket for improperly equipped motor vehicle and issued a box 2 inspection order for my 2017 Dodge Ram 3500.”

The person goes on to say that the notice order is vague. He was not sure what to do next, but made an appointment for an inspection at the dealership where he purchased the truck.

Actually, the notice is not vague, it simply says that you must take the vehicle to a designated inspection facility, undergo inspection and make the identified repairs with a pass required within 30 days. The officer will not list what needs to be repaired, the facility will determine that.

There could be a significant difference between what the dealership calls a “safety inspection” and what the inspection facility does. Simply checking that all the lights work, that the tires have sufficient tread and that the brakes are not worn out could be considered a safety inspection. The designated inspection facility is required to check all items in a comprehensive set of standards (that you may find in your local libaray) and make sure that those standards are met.

The only way to know is to ask the dealership what was checked when you are shopping for the vehicle.

That said, the dealership is not supposed to sell you a vehicle that is not roadworthy:

Sale of motor vehicle contrary to regulations

222   A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

Probably the only way to escape this requirement is to specify that what is being sold is not meant for use on a highway on the bill of sale.

You may find this FAQ from the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC useful. It outlines your rights when you purchase a vehicle from a dealer and what to do if you have problems.

Of course, if you made the modifications that triggered the officer’s interest after you purchased the vehicle, you are on the hook for that yourself.

If you did not, then you may have some recourse against the dealership for the cost of the inspection and the changes necessary to make the vehicle roadworthy. The VSABC may assist you with that or you may have to conduct a small claims court action if the dealership refuses.

If you knew at the time of purchase that the vehicle was not roadworthy in all respects you may find that willful blindness can limit your options as well.

Finally, you can take advantage of lawyer referral for properly informed advice.

DriveSmartBC – We’ll See You When You Turn 80!

BC Driver's LicenceSometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver’s seat. Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills. Can’t or won’t follow the driving rules? Pay for a few penalty points and don’t worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.

Last week’s episode of Nova, Look Who’s Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles. One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.

Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver’s career. You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver. The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.

After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.

I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He’d driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all! The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver’s licence.

I’ve been driving for more than 40 years now and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in BC since I was 16. In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.

There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses? I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I’m going in as sharp a focus as I can.

Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver’s seat with a host of driving assists. Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.

After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.

So, if I keep my head down, don’t bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.

Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.

Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it’s users to carry on without training updates and testing? We’ll see you when I turn 80!

#DriveSmartBC – Producing Your Driver’s Licence

“I’ve got 24 hours to produce it, don’t I?” and “It doesn’t matter, I know my licence number.” had to be the two most common responses I received when I stopped someone that wasn’t carrying their driver’s licence with them. Yes, you may know the number, but if my past experience is any indication, most of you don’t know a lot of the other details such as class, expiry date, restrictions or even your security keyword!

“So what?” you say, “You can look it up.” Yes, I was able look it up if the system was working, but how could I be sure that it was really you, especially since the police don’t have access to driver’s licence pictures on the computers in their cars. Add the fact that your friends may have a similar physical description and may also know your licence number and it begins to really get interesting.

Occasionally your “friend” would try to convince me that they were you when I had my pen poised over my ticket book. Often they were unlicenced, prohibited from driving or would be if they were convicted of the offence I was preparing to write. Why not avoid the whole mess and personate you? I wouldn’t know I was issuing the ticket to the wrong person.

The courts have held that it is permissable to take a photo as a part of police notes when investigating an incident. I took advantage of this whenever a driver did not produce their licence. I would ask them to step to the back of their vehicle, stand to the side of the licence plate and take a shot of them, the vehicle and the plate.

If the driver was reluctant to have their photo taken, this was a sign to me that chances were very good that they were not who they said they were. I would take extra care to make sure that I satisified myself that I was dealing with the right person.

Usually the first time you found out about a successful deception was when you tried to renew your driver’s licence. The agent at the Driver Service Center gave you two options: pay for all these tickets you had never received and renew or refuse to pay and don’t renew. Not renewing meant that you couldn’t legally drive until the whole matter was resolved and that often took a month or more.

It is also possible that if the person masquerading as you accumulates a large number of tickets, you could find yourself being prohibited from driving. The could occur either by receiving notice in the mail from RoadSafetyBC or at the roadside if you are stopped by the police.

Today you can easily keep track of suspicious entries on your driving history. ICBC provides your driving record on line where you can check for drivingconvictions that are not yours prior to renewal.

In British Columbia when the police demand your driver’s licence you are legally obligated to immediately hand it over and allow the officer to take it in hand. If requested, you are also required to verbally state your name and current residential address. Doing so will avoid a failing to produce charge and likely significantly reduce the time that you are stopped at the roadside.

Carrying your driver’s licence could provide valuable information for rescue and medical personnel if you are involved in a collision and are unable to communicate.

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