Thursday, October 2nd6.8°C
Behind The Wheel

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

Coloured fuel

If you visit a service station in a farming area of BC you may see a fuel pump with the legend of marked or coloured fuel. Look a little closer and you will find the price to be lower than normal regular fuel. Don't be tempted to fill your tank with it unless you are specifically authorized to use coloured fuel as the penalties may be significant.
Coloured or marked fuel is normal gasoline or diesel fuel with a characteristic red dye added to it to distinguish it from other fuels. Road tax is not collected on the fuel at the time of sale resulting in the lower price at the pump. The majority of the use of coloured fuel takes place off road, so the contribution to highway maintenance is not missed.
If you have a vehicle with farm licence plates (the additional emblem is no longer needed) that is used for farm purposes or operate road building machinery within a provincial highway project area you may use marked fuel when driving on a highway. All other legitimate uses are off highway and include vessels, stationary or portable engines, mining, logging or petroleum exploration, snowmobiles or ATVs.
Coloured fuel purchasers using unmanned dispensing locations must complete an end use certification form FIN438 as a part of their account. Otherwise, staff at self or full serve locations must prevent customers from dispensing marked fuel into licenced vehicles.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

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

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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