Wednesday, September 17th18.7°C
Behind The Wheel

Backing up? Safety is your responsibility

The crew from the School Bus Garage in Keremeos tell about a person driving a motor home that backed out of a driveway near a school bus that was dropping off children. The person didn’t appear to be paying attention and almost backed over one of them. The crew thought that a big yellow school bus displaying flashing lights should have been a clue for the driver to exercise more care.

This is a very important thought because the Motor Vehicle Act places all the responsibility on the driver moving in reverse. It says that the driver of a vehicle shall not cause the vehicle to move backwards into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and shall not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

Two specific offences are created in this section. The first is backing into an intersection and the second is backing over a crosswalk. Both of these imply that the movement is being made on a highway.

The final part of the section makes no mention of being on a highway. It simply says that in no circumstances will a driver travel in reverse unless that movement can be carried out in a safe manner.

If you are going to back up your vehicle and you cannot see well enough through the windows or by using mirrors like the motor home driver it would be wise to find someone to act as a flag person and help you. It is not convenient but it is safe, and that is what is required.


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


Delivering the wrong message

A serious single vehicle collision occurred in the Shawnigan Lake Area on September 1st. Four 19 year olds were hurt, two critically, after the driver spilled an iced cappuccino on herself and subsequently lost control of her vehicle. She struck the right curb, over-corrected and crossed the highway, rolling down an embankment and coming to rest against some trees.

Thankfully there was no traffic coming in the other direction or any other road user present to collide with.

A sergeant from the Shawnigan Lake Detachment was quoted in an article by a Victoria Times Colonist reporter. "It’s unlikely charges will be laid." "It was just an unfortunate incident that occurred.” “Everyone drinks coffee in their car.”

I'm used to the violator using what I like to call the Lemming Defence: "Everyone else does it!" but this has no place being parroted by the police when wrapping up a collision investigation. There is no difference between this and losing control because of other forms of distracted driving. Yes, I feel sorry for the driver and her passengers, but I also feel that in this case if there is sufficient evidence for charges they should be issued.

Our safety as a road user depends on everyone doing the right thing, and that is concentrating on the task of driving properly. This driver took a small liberty that ended up injuring three other innocent road users and had the potential of causing much worse. "Everyone drinks coffee in their car" is not a justification for doing it, nor is it a justification for not taking action if action is due.


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

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


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

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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