ICBC and police launch campaign aimed at the leading cause of fatalities

ICBC and police launch campaign aimed at the leading cause of fatalities

Every year, 81 people are killed in speed-related crashes, making speed the number one cause of car crash fatalities in B.C.*

That’s why ICBC and police are launching a month-long campaign focusing on speed and urging drivers to slow down.

While British Columbians are asked not to travel outside their health authority in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19, drivers still need to be mindful of their speed.

Small changes in speed can have a significant impact: an increase of just one km/h in average speed results in an increase of three per cent of crashes resulting in injury and four to five per cent increase for fatal crashes.**

Police will be targeting speeding and other high-risk driving behaviours during May. Speed Watch volunteers will also be set up in B.C. communities to remind drivers of the speed they’re travelling.

The campaign includes new education digital advertising and social media, as well as enforcement radio ads.

For tips and other facts, visit icbc.com.

Quotes:

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“Those who chose to speed excessively, change lanes aggressively, tailgate, disobey traffic lights and signs are willingly putting themselves and the public at risk for serious injury or death. In May, police agencies and road safety partners across B.C. are using all available resources, including Intersection Safety Cameras and targeted approaches, to prevent deadly driving behaviours and remove high-risk drivers from our roads.”​

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs and Driver Licensing

“Speeding really doesn’t get you there any faster but increases your chances of crashing. When you slow down, you see more of the road and have more time to react to the unexpected. We can all do our part by slowing down to make our roads safer and save lives.”

Regional statistics*:

  • On average, 27 people are killed every year in the Lower Mainland from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 13 people are killed every year on Vancouver Island from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 27 people are killed every year in the Southern Interior from speed-related crashes.

  • On average, 15 people are killed every year in North Central B.C. from speed-related crashes.

*Police-reported data, five-year average from 2015 to 2019. Speed includes unsafe speed, exceeding speed limit, excessive speed over 40km/h, and driving too fast for conditions.

**Save Lives – A Road Safety Technical Package, World Health Organization (2017), p. 15

Give Me a Brake!

 

Surge BrakeOne would think that there was a weekend push, pull or drag sale on trailers. I once checked three of them on a Friday evening and found one that was too heavy for a surge brake, one that had no brakes functioning and a third that needed brakes but was not equipped with them.

The trailer without functional brakes was being towed by a class one driver, and the other two by drivers who likely didn’t know any better. Electric trailer brake systems can be complicated to set up and are often misadjusted. Hydraulic surge brakes don’t require anything of the driver except testing and maintenance.

It was clear that none of these drivers had done a pre-trip inspection of their trailer before they left the driveway.

A hydraulic surge brake cannot be used where the total weight of the trailer and it’s load is more than 2,800 kg. When it is this heavy, the driver must have a means of applying the trailer brakes separately from the tow vehicle brakes from where the driver is seated in the cab.

A combination electric and hydraulic brake is most commonly used on boat trailers for this purpose.

The class one driver was clearly negligent. The breakaway brake activation lever and cable was missing entirely from his trailer. A quick look inside the master cylinder on the surge brake revealed that there was no fluid inside it. This trailer should never have left the yard.

The third trailer weighed just under 1,400 kg and the driver towing it said that he had been told by the business that sold it to him that it was not heavy enough to require brakes. The net weight (shown on his vehicle registration document) of the vehicle he had chosen to tow the trailer with was just over 1,800 kg. This means that the trailer and load cannot weigh more than half of that figure or 900 kg. if it is to operate without brakes.

All three drivers had no clear idea how much their trailer weighed. The only sure way to know this is to go to a scale and have it weighed. Once that is accomplished, it is time to consider brake requirements.

For the simplest cases, if the total weight of the trailer and load is under 1,400 kg but more than 50% of the net weight of the towing vehicle, brakes are required. If it weighs 1,400 kg or more, brakes are required. If it weighs more than 2,800 kg a surge brake cannot be used and a different braking system is required.

Lastly, a word about breakaway brakes. These are required on trailers that weigh 1,400 kg or more when loaded. They are designed to stop the trailer and hold it stopped for a minimum of 15 minutes should it accidentally disconnect from the tow vehicle. Don’t attach the lanyard for activating the brake to the hitch assembly or safety chains! Attach it somewhere else on the tow vehicle so that if the hitch fails the brake will still activate.

References:

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 for 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.

#DriveSmartBC

B.C. pilot study to allow electric kick scooters to operate legally in six cities

VANCOUVER _ A newly approved pilot project will allow electric kick scooters to legally cruise the streets and bike paths of six British Columbia municipalities.

The Ministry of Transportation says in a statement the pilot project gives the province and the selected local governments a chance to assess the safety of electronic personal transportation.

The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act doesn’t allow transportation such as electric scooters on roads or sidewalks, but a 2019 amendment permits communities to work with the province on pilot projects.

The six participating municipalities where e-scooters will soon be legal are Kelowna, Vernon, Vancouver, West Vancouver and North Vancouver city and district.

Once those governments pass bylaws saying where the devices can be used, e-scooters will be treated like e-bikes, where a driver’s licence or insurance won’t be needed but riders must be at least 16, wear a helmet and follow the rules of the road.

Dates for the passage of local bylaws haven’t been set, but Mayor Kennedy Stewart says Vancouver aims to begin a trial of privately owned devices like e-scooters later this year.

Drinking and Driving Zero Tolerance

Keys and DrinkI wrote this article back in 2004. Since then the B.C. government has enacted the Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) program, reducing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for sanctions from 80 mg% to 50 mg%. In addition, the federal government implemented mandatory alcohol screening for any driver in December 2018.

The IRP is much easier for police to administer and I suspect that caused a significant drop in the number of criminal code impaired driving charges.

There have been 7,405 IRPs issued in B.C. between January and July, 2020 and ICBC reports that impaired driving is a factor in between 20 and 25% of collisions.

In 2004 I observed that using alcohol helps drivers make poor decisions. Of course, the decision of importance to us all is “do I drive, or have I had too much?” This is a decision that should be simple, if you drink don’t drive, and the law should reinforce that.

The Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) for new drivers requires exactly that, a zero BAC. If you drive after consuming any alcohol, you will be prohibited from driving for 12 hours if caught. Should your BAC be over 50 mg% you will be treated like all other drivers and once this information reaches the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, GLP drivers can expect to receive another prohibition.

It is past time to extend the GLP rules to all drivers. This will help eliminate the possibility of a bad decision because it would now be “I had a drink, I can’t drive” instead of “do I drive, or have I had too much?”

Perhaps there should be a traffic ticket, complete with penalty points, for driving with a measurable BAC before the 50 mg% threshold is reached. Currently a non-GLP driver faces no sanction at all until their BAC reaches 50 mg%.

Is a driver traveling at 20 km/h over the speed limit a greater risk than a driver with a BAC of 40 mg%? The University of Michigan Health suggests that having a 20 mg% BAC will result in a decline in visual function, the inability to perform two tasks at the same time, a loss of judgment and altered mood.

The speeder gets a ticket and the 40 mg% driver goes free today unless their impairment causes them to violate a driving rule. In that case, they would be ticketed for the rule violation.

Ignition interlock devices could be mandatory equipment for new vehicles and some countries are currently considering requiring auto makers to do this. An Australian cost-benefit analysis found the following:

Overall, it was concluded that due to the investigated interlock’s user friendliness and relative affordability in comparison to other interlocks, the device should be considered as a countermeasure for curbing the drink driving problem in Australia.

If you are concerned about impaired driving, please support your local anti drinking and driving public interest group such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Together we can make a difference!

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 for 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.

#DriveSmartBC

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

Holiday CounterAttack roadchecks start this weekend

This year’s holiday CounterAttack campaign is kicking off this weekend with police roadchecks set up across the province. ICBC and police are urging drivers to plan ahead and make smart decisions to get home safely this holiday season.

Although COVID-19 has changed many things, it hasn’t changed the law – if you plan to drink, don’t drive.

“We know celebrations will look different this holiday season,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s vice-president of public affairs and driver licensing. “If you’ve been drinking at home, please stay home and don’t drive. When you drink and drive, you not only risk your life but those of others on the road. We all need to do our part to prevent crashes and save lives. If you plan to drink, plan ahead.”

Impaired driving remains a leading cause of fatal car crashes, with an average of 67 lives lost every year in B.C. More than half of impaired-related crashes (56 per cent) occur on the weekend (Friday to Sunday).

“We fully support our road safety partners and the CounterAttack campaign and will be out in force over the holiday season to deter impaired driving,” said Superintendent Holly Turton, vice-chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “Police will utilize mandatory alcohol screening, Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Experts to identify and remove alcohol and drug affected drivers from our roads to make BC’s roads some of the safest in the world.”

For more than 40 years, ICBC has implemented impaired driving education campaigns and funded CounterAttack enhanced police enforcement.

ICBC leads two impaired driving education campaigns every year. Learn more facts and tips in ICBC’s infographic.​

Statistics:*

  • On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Lower Mainland every year.

  • On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on Vancouver Island every year.

  • On average, 23 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in the Southern Interior every year.

  • On average, 17 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving in North Central B.C. every year.

Editor’s notes:

  • Several police detachments throughout B.C. will invite media to attend CounterAttack roadchecks in their communities during a one-day blitz on December 5.

  • B-roll footage of a CounterAttack roadcheck is available for download.

Notes about the data:

*Fatal victim counts from police data based on five-year average from 2015 to 2019. Impaired is defined to include alcohol, illicit drugs and medicines.

ICBC and police ask drivers to leave their phone alone

ICBC and police ask drivers to leave their phone alone

More than one in four fatal crashes on B.C. roads involve distracted driving, which is why police and ICBC continue to combat this dangerous driving behaviour that claims 76 lives each year.*

Since B.C.’s distracted driving law came into effect in January 2010, more than 430,000 infractions have been issued to drivers for using an electronic device while driving. Some drivers didn’t get the message the first time, as between January 2010 and March 2020:

  • 44,000 drivers have received two tickets for distracted driving

  • 12,000 have received three tickets

  • 4,200 have received four tickets

  • 65 drivers have received 10 tickets

This month, drivers will be hearing one message – leave your phone alone when you’re behind the wheel.

Police across B.C. are ramping up distracted driving enforcement during September, and community volunteers are setting up Cell Watch deployments to remind drivers to leave their phone alone. The campaign also features new digital and radio advertising.

Drivers can do their part by avoiding distractions while driving and encouraging others to do the same. Activate Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature or what’s similarly available on other devices.

You can get tips and statistics in an infographic at icbc.com.

Quotes:

Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee

“Distracted driving continues to be the number one cause of police-reported crashes in British Columbia. If your eyes aren’t on the road, and you are not fully focused on driving, you are distracted. Every second counts when you are behind the wheel, and being distracted for just a second could be the difference between life and death. Police are passionate about making our roads safer, and the distracted driving campaign is an excellent way to educate the community on the risks associated with distracted driving.”

Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s Vice-President Public Affairs & Driver Licensing

“Using electronic devices, like smartphones, is one of the most common and riskiest forms of distracted driving. Even short glances away from the road increases your risk of crashing. Safer roads start with every driver making a conscious decision to focus on the road and leave their phones alone. Let’s all do our part to create a safer driving culture in B.C.”

Regional statistics*:

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

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

  • Every year, on average, 29 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, on average, 12 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes in the North Central region.

*Police data from 2014 to 2018. 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.

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