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Drive for Uber? Maybe not

Uber is a company that develops, markets, and operates the Uber app, an app that allows potential passengers with smartphones to submit a trip request. The request is sent to contractors, who use their own cars. The system is essentially a worldwide taxi company that employs citizens in their personal vehicles to provide quicker less expensive rides. 

If the provincial government and taxi companies have their way, though, Uber will not be welcome in Kelowna, or anywhere else in British Columbia.

Some people are asking, “Should I become an Uber driver?” 

After all, it looks like a good way to pick up some easy money, and to provide a lower-cost service to people at the same time. 

Before you visit the Uber web site to sign up, though, you should consider very carefully what risks you might be taking. That little bit of pocket money could quickly become a mere drop in the bucket when it comes to covering your losses if a collision should occur.

The province of BC and its municipalities require people who carry passengers for profit to meet many requirements. There are licences, a National Safety Code certificate, a semi-annual vehicle inspection, a chauffeur's permit, and a Class 4 driver's licence to obtain. Forget or ignore any of these, and the police or Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement may choose to issue some very expensive violation tickets if you are stopped.

Perhaps the most significant item that few consider is insurance coverage. To carry any passenger for hire you must insure your vehicle with ICBC, using the appropriate taxi or limousine rate class. If you are found at fault for a collision, your passengers and other vehicles involved will be compensated through Basic Third Party Liability and Accident Benefits, as well as any other sources of their own insurance coverage. You could potentially have to repay the full value of all claims that arise, and forfeit coverage for your own injuries as well as damage to your vehicle.

Could you expect financial help from Uber if the worst happens? It would be wise to read their legal terms and conditions very carefully. In fact, it would be even wiser to consult with legal and insurance professionals to make sure that you would be adequately protected. The risks for failing to do this could be significant in comparison to anything you might earn as an Uber driver.

Bottom line: If you are considering Uber, do your homework first. 

Here’s a link to a local discussion about Uber: Is Uber coming to Kelowna? 

“Ooh, I'm driving my life away. Lookin' for a better way for me.” ~ Eddie Rabbitt


The author is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience.

To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca


Feeling the pressure?

It was time to find a set of winter tires for my wife's Honda CR-V, so it was off to Honda for a set of steel wheels, a check with Consumer Reports for the best tire choices, then to the retailers for the best price. I thought that I had it all wrapped up until I remembered the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Proper tire inflation is of great importance to safe driving. Poor inflation can cause a tendency to hydroplane, and can affect traction, fuel economy, and tire life. Let tire pressure fall too low, and the tire can destroy itself or fail suddenly, resulting in a collision. That’s where TPMS comes in. It can help bring tire inflation problems to your attention, if inflation changes before you find it with your tire gauge. 

If your vehicle uses the anti-lock brake system (ABS) to sense tire pressure instead of a module in each wheel, this situation will not apply. You can change your tires and wheels, and the system will continue to function without having to be adjusted. Check your owner's manual or contact the dealership for more information if you are unsure of which system your vehicle uses.

Some online articles complain about traction control and vehicle stability systems being negatively affected if the TPMS modules were not present and functioning properly. This is not the case, according to my Honda dealer. The worst possible problem, he told me, is that the tire pressure warning light might come on, and stay on, until you put the original wheels back on again. 

For now, since it is not mandatory to have a functional TPMS, I've decided to make sure that I check my tire inflation, using a good gauge on a regular basis, and let the inflation warning light stay on. When I decide that I can't live with it, or the law changes, I'll buy a second set of sensors and a reset tool.


Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience.

To comment or learn more, please visit drivesmartbc.ca

Convicted in Alberta

“I was convicted for impaired driving in Alberta, can I drive in BC?” asks a young man who had moved from BC to Alberta for work, and had been convicted for drinking and driving. 

He lost his job, and was forced to move back home. The Justice of the Peace at the courthouse in Alberta advised that his driving prohibition was for the province of Alberta and that this should not stop him from obtaining a BC driver's licence when he returned home. 

The Justice of the Peace was not correct.

Anyone who is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle by the law of a province but continues to drive commits an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Put more simply, if you are prohibited from driving in one province, you are prohibited from driving in any other province as well. If you choose to drive and are convicted, you will have a criminal record for doing so.

When this young man visits an ICBC Driver Service Centre to regain his BC driver's licence, he will be asked if he is currently prohibited from driving in another jurisdiction. If he answers honestly a check will be made with the Alberta authorities. The confirmed impaired driving conviction will be entered onto his driving record, and he will be automatically prohibited from driving in BC for one year, from the date of his Alberta conviction. If he lies and is caught, other criminal sanctions will result, if he is convicted.

Continuing to drive without a licence, prohibited or not, will only serve to make the problem worse. There are significant fines, possible jail sentences, vehicle impoundment, and further prohibitions that could be applied.

While the consequences of this young man's poor decision look significant for him, it is nothing in comparison to the potential harm his choice presented to both himself and others. Driving while impaired by alcohol, legal or illegal drugs is still far too common on our highways. Never drive while your abilities are impaired.


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


Avoiding penalty points

One of the recurring themes on the DriveSmartBC Discussion Forum involves avoiding penalty points after a driver has received a traffic ticket for a hazardous moving violation. 

The driver often realizes that he or she has erred, and is willing to pay the fine but wants to avoid having penalty points assessed for the transgression. Avoiding penalty points is particularly important to drivers in the Graduated Licensing program, who will be prohibited from driving at a low point threshold, but it is also important to professional drivers, and those with a poor driving record.

Penalty points are essentially a score-keeping method for assigning the level of risk associated with a hazardous moving violation. For example, disobeying a red light at an intersection is 2 points, speeding is 3 points, careless driving is 6 points and impaired driving is 10 points. ICBC and RoadSafetyBC use the penalty point total associated to a driving record to assess penalty point premiums, or to impress driving prohibitions, the total cost or length of which depends on the number of penalty points accumulated during a period of time.

To state the obvious, the best way to avoid penalty points is not to be the recipient of a violation ticket in the first place. However, once you have a traffic ticket in hand, there are really only two ways to avoid penalty points. The first is to try and convince the issuing officer to withdraw it, and the second is to have the ticket dismissed in court. Once convicted, either through paying the penalty or having been found guilty at trial, penalty points will be assessed. The justice cannot impose a fine, but can reduce or eliminate penalty points.

Another option is to agree to a plea bargain with the officer prior to your ticket dispute hearing. An example of this might be if you were charged with careless driving (which carries a fine of $368 and 6 points), you may be able to convince the officer to accept a guilty plea to an included offence with a higher fine and fewer points. Some officers are not comfortable doing this, but there is no harm in asking.

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

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his traffic enforcement service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

E-mail 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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