Friday, November 28th-3.3°C
Behind The Wheel

Give me a sign

During one of my Elder College presentations I work through a module on traffic signs and lane markings with the students. Driving examiners tell me that this is one area that older drivers have trouble with if they are called in for a re-examination. Based on discussions in the forum on the DriveSmartBC website I can truthfully say that older drivers are not the only ones having difficulty with signs.
Sure, we see stop, yield and speed signs every day and are quite confident about what they mean. If you are a middle aged driver who lives in rural BC and is visiting the lower mainland area for the first time, there may be all sorts of signs and signals that you have never seen before. Trying to decide what to do as you pass them is probably not a good method for dealing with the issue!
You are expected to know what the signs mean even if you rarely encounter them. Keeping up to date is something that we rarely feel the need to do because we all know how to drive, right? The only time that we may have looked at the provincial driving manual, Learn to Drive Smart, is if our teenage children are learning to drive and then it may only have been out of curiosity or to confirm something that they have told us.
Paper copies of the manual are still free for the asking at any Driver Service Center in British Columbia. If you have a computer, smartphone or tablet it can be downloaded in PDF format from ICBC's web site. If you're really feeling brave, you can even take the on line practice test for new drivers. It never hurts to be ahead of the game.
The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. To comment or learn more, please visit


Impaired operation of a motor vehicle

With all the advertising in the media about impaired driving everyone should know not to drive their car or truck while under the influence. But what about other conveyances?

There are quite a few ways to run afoul of the impaired legislation. Section 253 of the Criminal Code starts out with “Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle, or vessel, or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft...while...impaired by alcohol or a drug.” Let's examine the motor vehicle portion of that. A motor vehicle is defined as a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power, but does not include a vehicle of a railway that operates on rails.

A moment of thought can come up with all sorts of motor vehicles. Forklifts, snowmobiles, golf carts, mopeds, earthmovers, skidders, backhoes, lawn mowers, tractors, combines, electric wheelchairs and more. The list is only limited by our ability to put a motor on it.

A person might be tempted to comment that most of the examples in the previous paragraph don’t normally operate on a highway. Well, neither do vessels or aircraft and it is an offence to operate them while impaired. In fact, being on a highway doesn’t even enter into the picture. It is possible to be convicted for doing circles in your backyard on a snowmobile in January or zooming down the fairway in a golf cart in June if you are impaired.

A closer reading of the section will even show that a person can be convicted of impaired operation with a blood alcohol content less than .08!

If you are going to consume alcohol or take prescription or non-prescription drugs consider carefully before you operate any conveyance with a motor.


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

Driving with collision damage

You’ve been involved in a fender bender and now your vehicle is damaged. The headlight is pointing at the sky, the signal light is missing and the bumper had to be removed so that the tire has room to steer. The appointment with an insurance adjuster is pending, and you can’t even think about the body shop yet. Can you just keep driving until the vehicle is repaired?

Strictly speaking, the answer is no. Division 2.02 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations applies to a vehicle on a highway that ceases to be properly equipped as required by the Act or Regulations as a result of collision or breakdown. The vehicle must be removed from the highway forthwith and may only be removed or taken to a place of repair by a tow truck or other vehicle capable of safely carrying out the movement.

The tow truck may move a vehicle that is not properly equipped if the driver takes reasonable precaution for the safety of other traffic.

If you prefer to remove the vehicle yourself, you would have to turn it into cargo by loading it onto a trailer or flatdeck. Using a towing dolly or other device such as a tow bar or chain would amount to operating the vehicle on a highway. Operation requires that the vehicle be properly equipped in all respects.


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


Crossing highway lines to park

An Osoyoos resident has asked about parking in the downtown area.  There is angle parking on both sides of the main street, and the street is marked with a double solid yellow line down the center.  He is concerned about vehicles crossing the oncoming lane to park on the left side of the street. 

When a highway is marked with a line of any type between lanes, single or double, yellow or white, broken or solid, traffic must keep to the right of it.  So how does a driver properly go to the left side of a line?

In the case of a double solid line there is only one exception, and that is when entering or leaving the highway.

In the case of a single solid or single broken line, a driver may cross over to enter or leave the highway, to pass another vehicle, or to avoid an obstacle on the highway.

Finally, there is the case of a combination of solid and broken lines.  These may be crossed to enter and leave the highway and to avoid an obstacle on the highway.  They may also be crossed to start passing when the broken line is on the right side, and to complete a pass when the broken line is on the left side.

When entering or leaving the highway across lines, a driver must do so safely and not unreasonably affect the travel of another vehicle.  When crossing lines to pass or to avoid obstacles a driver must do so in safety and must not affect the travel of another vehicle in any way.

Since taking a parking space on the left side of the highway marked with lines is not leaving or entering, avoiding an obstacle, or passing another vehicle, the move is illegal and could result in the driver being ticketed.

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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