Wednesday, January 28th2.2°C
Behind The Wheel

Caveat vendor - window tinting

The Victoria Times Colonist is reporting on a crackdown with regard to tinted windows on vehicles by the local Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU). The article quotes a business owner who tells his customers that some window tinting is illegal and that the buyer should beware. What the article fails to touch on is that the vendor should also beware.

The comments posted by readers with the article are entertaining. There are those who realize that tint in the wrong places can be significantly hazardous when it comes time for a driver to identify a low contrast target against a low contrast background. Think pedestrian dressed in dark clothing walking along an unlit road at night. The rest spout less well thought out responses including one about it not being illegal for businesses to install tint where is should not be on your car or truck's windows. They are wrong.

It is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act for anyone to deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations. A violation of this could cost a business owner $109 if IRSU issues a ticket or could be determined by the court if an appearance notice is issued instead.

Either of those two possibilities would pale in comparison to being found contributively negligent by the courts following a crash. Chances are good that the business has no insurance coverage for such a situation and telling the customer that it is illegal will not provide protection. In fact, it helps to confirm negligence. So, caveat vendor too. One significant judgement could leave you bankrupt and out of the tinting business.


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


Why don't we teach driving in school?

"Will driver education ever be made mandatory?" asks a DriveSmartBC reader. He expressed the opinion that most of what drivers need to know could be taught in the high school classroom. While I would like to see mandatory training I don't think that this could be done well in high schools because of the lack of an opportunity to actually drive under the supervision of a qualified instructor.

The current provincial school curriculum does make provision for driver training related studies from grade 8 onward in Health & Career Education and Career & Personal Planning. ICBC provides course content packages free of charge that the teachers can use in these programs if they choose to. The content in the packages is geared to have students anticipate the consequences of bad choices made while driving and to develop a positive attitude about sharing the road.

Speaking from my own point of view, I learned more in the hours spent behind the wheel with a qualified instructor sitting to my right and providing constant guidance than I did in the classroom. While some of the necessary knowledge could be learned in the classroom, few parents are prepared to provide on road training thoroughly and in proper progression. I suspect that even fewer public schools would be interested in offering this type of instruction.

This leaves us with private driver training schools. They are prepared to do the most comprehensive job of preparing a new driver, but at a price. Should it be mandatory? When ICBC changed the time reduction in the GLP for drivers who took training, enrolment immediately suffered. For the most part, we're clearly not prepared to take training unless there is a tangible benefit. Perhaps it is time for BC to join Quebec and Saskatchewan in making driver training mandatory for new drivers.


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

Officer should have exercised discretion

The subject of an officer using his or her discretion in the issuance of a traffic ticket is often part of the explanation in the discussion forum on the DriveSmartBC website. People asking for assistance in formulating their defence in traffic court often feel that in their case the officer should have given them a warning instead of a ticket. Sometimes I agree with them and sometimes I don't.

This is not surprising as the same situation often exists among police officers discussing the same situation. We all have our own opinions, based on our experiences, about what should and should not be done. We also have to live with the decisions that we make afterward. I regret some tickets that I have written and I regret having not written some as well. I expect that we all try to do our best in the circumstances.

On the driver's side of the equation, they have likely performed the particular behaviour that caught the officer's attention many times. Nothing bad, a collision, near miss or a ticket has resulted, so the action has now become something acceptable as there is no perceived risk involved.

The officer may see if differently because they have seen where this particular behaviour has resulted in significant consequences. Because of this experience, they tend to write the ticket instead of giving the warning. Of course, this puts them at odds with the driver.

A review of both perspectives is available in the traffic courts.


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


Stop means stop!

It doesn't take much to amuse a retired traffic cop. I was parked waiting for my wife and had about 15 minutes to watch traffic at a 'T' intersection marked with a stop line, crosswalk and stop sign. Traffic on the city side street was steady as it was dusk and near the end of another business day. During the time I watched, not one driver came to a proper stop.
Most stopped with the front tires on the crosswalk line nearest to the intersection. The rest rolled slowly through without stopping at all.
I can understand wanting to stop in a position where you can see both ways on the cross street. After all, why stop twice when you can just slide up, have a look and go? The answer to that one is easy: pedestrians. I also watched a father and daughter walk up to the intersection using the sidewalk. They both looked at the vehicle approaching the stop sign and the daughter either decided that the car was far enough back or trusted the driver to stop and began to cross. The father had a different idea. He put his arm out and stopped his daughter, letting the car stop on top of the crosswalk and proceed before they continued.
The pedestrians were engaged in the crosswalk and had the proper expectation that the driver would stop properly. The father correctly guessed that it would not happen and chose not to exercise their right of way. As the situation played out, this was obviously the wise thing to do.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit

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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 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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