Friday, October 24th10.3°C
Behind The Wheel

Notice & order #2

Over the course of my service in traffic law enforcement I saw many things that made me shake my head. Examples include a pickup truck that had a rope strung through the vent windows and tied to the windshield wipers so that they could be operated by the passenger; another pickup with black plastic tape stuck over the brake warning light so that the brightness would not bother the driver at night; and a car had no working lights on the rear because ICBC had not arranged for collision repairs yet. Admittedly, these are extreme examples but there are many vehicles on our highways that are not being properly maintained by their owners.

I had developed a routine that involved a circle from the driver's door forward around the vehicle and back again. Once completed I had a fairly good idea whether the defects were minor in nature (a box 3), worthy of an immediate tow (a box 1) or somewhere in between. That would call for a "box 2" which required that the vehicle be promptly presented at a Designated Inspection Facility. If the inspector identified defects, they had to be repaired immediately and a passed inspection report submitted to Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement within 30 days.

If the 30 day period expired without a pass report, ICBC would flag the vehicle licence record. If police subsequently found the vehicle being driven on the highway the vehicle licence and number plates could be seized and the driver issued a violation ticket with a significant penalty. The system insures that the vehicle is repaired.

Should the owner decide that it was not worth repairing the vehicle, they simply cancelled the vehicle licence, effectively removing it from the road and it could be disposed of with no further enforcement costs. If the buyer wanted to licence it, the ICBC flag remained and no vehicle related transactions would be allowed until a pass report was issued.

I liked to use this method rather than immediately issuing a violation ticket for driving a defective vehicle. It allowed the driver or owner to spend the money that would have gone to the ticket on the inspection and repair process and I was assured that vehicle maintenance would be done.


"New" winter tire rules for BC

On October 1, 2014 the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced "new" winter tire rules for British Columbia. The changes are part of the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review conducted by the Ministry about one year ago when BC residents were asked to express their opinion. From the information provided to me, it appears that the only thing that has changed is the signage beside the highway.

In past, the signs required winter tires with sufficient tread or carrying a set of tire chains for all vehicles that passed them. Now the signs simply require winter tires that are marked with either the mountain and snowflake symbol or M+S for light vehicles and that heavier commercial vehicles carry tire chains.

I'm confused when I look at the sign because it appears to say that heavier commercial vehicles are not required to use winter tires. Shouldn't it say use winter tires and carry chains under the picture if they were? The distinction is important because the law requires that the Minister must give public notice or place signs before winter tires are required. The signs must be unambiguous.

Regardless of all of this, if you really want proper traction to maximize acceleration, braking and cornering the best answer is matching winter tires bearing the mountain and snowflake symbol on all wheels. Some tires marked M+S may comply with the law but could provide significantly less protection. It is worth taking the time to explore your options with a knowledgeable tire supplier before the last minute.


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

The boss won't fix it!

It is not uncommon for police to stop a defective vehicle and be told, "The boss said drive it." The employee is at a disadvantage, he has to drive to keep his job but he is also liable for driving the defective vehicle. While the employee cannot be absolved for the deficiencies, the boss is equally responsible in law.
The Motor Vehicle Act makes the registered owner a party to the offence committed by the employee, servant, agent or worker, or anyone entrusted by him with the possession of the vehicle when the offence is related to equipment or maintenance. This makes the employer personally liable to the same penalty as the driver. It does not remove the responsibility of the driver if action is taken by police against the owner for the violation.
Certain commercial vehicles are required to make pre and post trip inspections on a daily basis. The employee doing the inspection must record defects in the trip inspection report, regardless of the fact that they might feel it does no good. Carrier safety audits could be triggered by maintenance concerns and the result of the audit could mean the loss of the company's safety certificate, effectively ending it's ability to operate vehicles on the highway.
It is good practice for the rest of us to do a critical item inspection before we set out on our daily drive. The time spent is minimal and the gain in safety is certainly worthwhile.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit


The 70/40 Rule - Slow Down, Move Over

I was driving to Nanaimo and somewhere around Cook Creek there was a black vehicle with several flashing lights stationary at the side of the road. The road was not particularly busy and I was in the curbside lane.  I approached, traveling at the posted 110 kph. I gradually reduced my speed, checked my mirrors and moved into the outer lane so that I was traveling at 70 kph before I drew alongside the vehicle.  As I passed this vehicle I could see the police officer walking in front of the vehicle, taking photographs into the ditch.

I noted a large 4x4 truck bearing down on me from behind in an aggressive manner and clearly the man driving it was ignorant of the law and just saw me as a nuisance to his progress.  When we had passed the stopped police vehicle I resumed my speed and moved back to the other lane as he roared past me, clearly trying to make a point.  It occurred to me later that he might have tried to solve his angry situation by passing me on the inside which could have had catastrophic consequences!


I have tried in many ways to be sure that people I know are aware of this law and the reason for it, but all too many drivers seem to be unaware and therefore create even more potentially dangerous situations.  Is there any more obvious way to ensure that motorists obey this law?  A few signs posted on the highway are not enough.

If only all drivers thought ahead as they drove and were as considerate as the woman who wrote this message was in the situation. I can only add that you may wish to think of this as the 70/40 rule when you encounter a stopped official vehicle. If the speed is 80 km/h or greater, slow to 70. Otherwise, slow to 40 km/h. It really isn't that difficult!


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, visit

Read more Behind the Wheel articles


About the author...

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years in his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP. It was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and now Schewe retired from the Force in January of 2006, but the column became a habit and continues.

E-mail him your questions or concerns: [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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