British Columbians are very concerned about the threat posed by distracted driving according to those leaving feedback on the government website created to solicit public input on the subject. Our province has the second lowest penalties for those caught handling a cellular phone when they should be paying attention to the road. Should those penalties be higher and if so, how much higher?
Setting penalties is a delicate balance I'm sure. Set them too high and the police won't apply them, the courts are taxed and the justices will not convict. Set them too low and it becomes just the cost of doing business. I can hear the comment "it's nothing but a cash grab" echoing in the background right now. Your input may make the level selected "just right."
I would lean toward something like the old 24 hour prohibition. Get caught and lose your driving privileges for a day. Accumulate too many and RoadSafetyBC can step in and take a driver's licence away for a longer period. Sadly, some drivers will continue driving anyway, but more severe sanctions await them if they do.
You now have about two weeks left to take part in the survey which closes on July 16, 2015. You can Tweet using the hash tag #distractedBC, e-mail your thoughts to [email protected] or Join the Discussion at engage.gov.bc.ca. You are also welcome to leave your comments with this article on the DriveSmartBC website.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca.
I hate to admit it, but bicycle lanes confuse me. The Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) defines them as a designated use lane that is part of the highway, but not part of the roadway. Both the province and municipalities are able to create designated use lanes and restrict who may use them through legislation. You might be surprised about what this might mean for both cyclists and drivers.
For the driver, the concept of roadway suddenly becomes very important. Roadway includes the lanes motor vehicles drive in and the area where they park at the side of the highway that is not the shoulder. So, if you approach an intersection intending to make a right turn, your pre-turn position is dependent on whether there is a curb or parking is available to the right of the bicycle lane or not. If not, you must remain to the left of the bicycle lane. If so, and it is practical to do so, you must move onto the parking area or next to the curb before you turn.
For the cyclist, it is forbidden to ride other than single file when using the roadway. If the shoulder of the highway or the cycle lane is wide enough, there is no rule that prohibits riding side by side there unless a bylaw directs otherwise.
If the highway shoulder is paved and passable, a cyclist must ride on it. If not, they are allowed to use the right hand edge of the roadway. The MVA does not require the use of cycle lanes if present and I have not found a municipal bylaw that requires their use either.
The bottom line? It's probably best that cyclists use bicycle lanes if they are present and drivers should exercise extra caution, especially when turning. The cyclist may see their bicycle lane as being clear and pass you on the right.
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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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