Monday, August 3rd25.9°C
Behind The Wheel

Pedestrian with death wish

The collision counter on the DriveSmartBC web site estimates 33 pedestrian deaths and 1374 pedestrian injury collisions in BC to July 29, 2015. I almost added to that number driving in Vancouver last weekend and the incident still has me shaking my head. I can't believe that a pedestrian could be that stupid!

I had stopped for a red light in the downtown area and intended to make a right turn. After the pedestrian signal went red and the people had crossed, I pulled across the marked crosswalk and stopped again where I could see cross traffic well. I found my gap and was about to proceed when I looked right and found a pedestrian right in front of me crossing against the light. He was busy with his cell phone and was wearing earbuds and never even looked at me as he walked around the car.

He probably owes some of his good fortune to my wife who yelled and made sure that I hit the brakes before I drove over him.

The courts say that we can expect to proceed as if other road users will obey the laws. What that really means is if I had hit this person, he would probably have been assessed most of the fault for the collision. However, he was there to be seen and I would have borne some of the blame too. Thank goodness it never came to that!

Police wrote only 210 tickets to pedestrians for failing to obey pedestrian signals in all of the province in 2014. It would appear that you have little risk of being called to account for this selfish behaviour.


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


Advance warning needed

When the road maintenance contractors undertake work on our highways they are hard to miss. The Traffic Control Manual for Work on Roadways tells them all about setting out advance warnings to give drivers plenty of opportunity to realize that they are approaching a hazard. What is often missing is the equivalent for short term, small scale occurrences. This has added importance now that we have the slow down, move over law.

The Motor Vehicle Act is very straight forward, if you are doing work on a highway, you must post traffic control devices indicating that there are workers or equipment present. This means that a sign, signal, line, meter, marking, space, barrier or device must be in place, ideally with sufficient distance to give drivers time to anticipate and react. A flashing yellow light alone is not sufficient.

The Act also requires that traffic control devices be placed to restrict the speed of traffic in a work area. If speed signs are not posted, then other devices must be placed to restrict the manner in which the vehicles are to proceed on the highway.

It's worthwhile as part of this discussion to examine what is meant by the word highway. Most of us tend to think of main highways and freeways, but a highway also includes streets, lanes and pathways that the public uses to drive vehicles on, and that includes the shoulder. Working on the shoulder rather than in the travelled lanes does not excuse the need to place sufficient warnings.


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

Car jail for smokers

We're facing one of the more serious forest fire seasons that British Columbia has seen in recent memory. Many of these fires are caused by human activity with one of the common activities being the careless disposal of cigarette butts. The provincial government has proposed that when the careless disposal occurs from within a motor vehicle, the vehicle should be impounded for a period of time. Will this idea die a quiet death or if the pace of new fires continues, do you think this is a good solution?

I'm convinced that many smokers flick a butt out of their vehicle without thinking. It was not uncommon to stop a violator and see them take a last drag as I walked up to the vehicle and then watch the butt arc out the window onto the ground. I would offer them the opportunity to retrieve it or suggest I would do it for $81 if they didn't want to. Inevitably the person would get out and pick the butt up, but not without some thought about whether I was serious or not first.

This is a general safety problem which occurs in many contexts other than those involving a vehicle. Why should we consider using a road safety tool to deal harshly with only part of a wide ranging problem? Is something of an equivalent nature being planned for a hiker who tosses a still burning butt down on a trail or a city stroller who uses a mulched planter instead of an ashtray? If not, we should consider passing on the idea of a vehicle impound.

Why do we seem so reluctant to use people jail on those who put us all at risk? Car jail immediately halts dangerous driving behaviour because there is a direct relation to the problem. While there are probably many sides to the issue of jailing people, not the least being that it can happen long after the offence, it might be a better choice to focus the mind of careless smokers.


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


Reporting a hit and run

In response to hearing the siren of an approaching fire engine, Cindy Li slowed in preparation to yield to it. While her vehicle was still moving, it was struck from behind by another car. She stopped, exited her car, walked back to the other car and spoke to the young male driver, requesting that he pull over to exchange information. As she returned to her car, the male drove around her and disappeared from sight.
Ms. Li went to the fire hall and spoke with a captain there. The captain told her that one of the firemen on the truck witnessed the collision. She obtained the captain's name and telephone number and reported the collision to ICBC. The collision was not reported to the police nor was there any information obtained from other motorists present at the collision.
After participating in the claims process ICBC told Ms. Li that she had not fulfilled her obligations to identify the offending driver and denied the claim as a hit and run. Li would have to proceed as a normal collision claim and as she did not have collision coverage, would have to pay for the damages herself. She sued ICBC in B.C. Supreme Court saying that she did what she could and ICBC should have advised her that she needed to do more. The court did not agree and dismissed the suit.
The Insurance (Vehicle) Act requires that the victim of a hit and run must make all reasonable efforts to discover who the driver and owner of the suspect vehicle is and satisfy the court that the identity of those persons cannot be found. If you were unable to find information at the scene initially, you might consider canvassing nearby homes or businesses, placing an ad in the newspaper or posting a sign requesting help. It is also wise to report the incident to police and ICBC immediately.
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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