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Behind The Wheel

The proper position for turning

"Tell them that they need to be in the proper lane before they turn" says one reader. Equally important is the need to end up in the proper lane after the turn. Attention to detail here provides for a smooth flow of traffic and less chance of being involved in a collision.

The definition of roadway is important to this discussion. This is the portion of the highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for traffic, but does not include the shoulder. In the case of a paved highway, it is the portion between the lines, or in the case where there is no line on the right side, between the lines and the edges of the pavement.

Drivers intending to turn right at an intersection must approach and make the turn as close as possible to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Drivers intending to turn left at an intersection must approach in the lane nearest to the center line keeping to the right of that line, turn to the left of the center of the intersection, and leave the intersection to the right of the center line.

Turns made to leave the highway at places other than an intersection require that the driver approach the turn in the same manner as turns made at intersections.

In all of the cases outlined above the driver will be in the first lane available to the intended direction of travel when the turn is completed. A common mistake made at the intersection of multi-lane highways is to turn directly into lanes other than those designated.

 

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



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Do roundabouts make you dizzy?

Love them or hate them, roundabouts and traffic circles are a fact of life for BC drivers. They slow traffic at intersections without stopping it, providing good throughput and increased safety. They are also environmentally friendly as idle time at intersections can be reduced or eliminated depending on traffic volume. All that is left for us to do, if my e-mail is any indication, is to learn to use them properly.

Since we drive around traffic circles counterclockwise, there is no need to signal as you approach. There is only one way to go and other traffic does not need to be notified. You do signal your intent to exit though as there are choices to be made by both you and the other traffic around you.

Yes, just as the sign shows, you must yield to other traffic already in the traffic circle before you enter it.

Are you being overtaken by an emergency vehicle using flashing lights and a siren? Pull over and stop before you enter the roundabout or continue to the nearest exit, clear the roundabout and then stop to let the emergency vehicle pass by.

Multiple lane roundabouts require planning before you enter them. If you intend to turn right or go straight through, enter in the right lane. If you intend to go straight through or turn left, enter in the left lane. ICBC advised that you must not change lanes in a multiple lane roundabout.

 

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



Post crash seatbelt investigation

Part of the investigation of any serious motor vehicle collision is an examination of the seatbelts to determine if the person in that seating position was restrained or not. The outcome could determine whether a ticket for failing to wear the restraint was issued or not but I suspect that more commonly the information was used to determine liability. If you were not wearing your seatbelt your award for injury could be reduced by the courts.

The simplest method involved fully extending the belt. Many manufacturers sew a label at the retractor end of the belt that is exposed if the belt is subjected to sufficient force. You may wish to try this if you are considering the purchase of a used vehicle because it could indicate that the vehicle was involved in a significant collision sometime in its life.

Reading the information in the vehicle's "black box" will show the status of the driver's belt switch. While this may mean that the belt was fastened and then just placed behind the driver, damage (or lack of it) to the interior of the vehicle could be used to corroborate or disprove it.

Characteristic damage occurs to the belt and fittings when an occupant is restrained in a crash caused by the tremendous forces involved. Frayed edges, melted plastic smears, D-ring impressions and belt fabric impressions are frequently found. The pawl that stops the retractor reel will dent the metal teeth it sits against.

Finally, the investigator can look to medical personnel for evidence. A properly worn seatbelt causes specific injury to the wearer. Thankfully this injury is much less significant than what would occur if the seatbelt was not used.

 

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



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Mouthwash to hide liquor breath

Before the advent of the roadside screening device the use of mouthwash to hide the odour of liquor on a driver's breath was not unheard of. Today using a mouthwash containing alcohol as you approach a road check can be a very dangerous thing to do. The alcohol present in your mouth from the mouthwash could produce a warn or fail reading on the device when your true blood alcohol level is less.

This topic was prompted by a woman who e-mailed me to present her husband's drinking history from the previous evening. After a good night's sleep, breakfast, tooth brushing and gargling with mouthwash he was checked by police on his way to work. The officer smelled liquor, tested the husband with a screening device and received a warn reading. She was concerned that having been tested within 10 minutes of gargling the warn reading was a result of mouth alcohol rather than breath alcohol from the previous evening.

There is some possibility that mouth alcohol did play a part in this situation. The exact scenario was played out when I taught other officers to use the screening device. The student partners each took turns rinsing their mouths with mouthwash and then testing to see how long it took for the mouth alcohol to dissipate. One partner was to talk after rinsing and the other was to keep their mouth closed except when providing a sample. In either case, after 10 minutes mouth alcohol no longer produced a reading.

I was somewhat suspicious of the scenario. Six drinks the evening previous, tooth brushing and mouthwash use prior to driving and the officer still smelled the odour of liquor on the driver's breath. Should this driver have consumed a significant amount of liquor during the evening it is possible that his blood alcohol level would be high enough to produce a warn the following morning without help from the mouthwash.

 

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



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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 Castanet.net. 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]
 




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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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