Nuisance lights

Lights, without a doubt are the subject that generates the greatest number of requests for DriveSmartBC articles. We've looked at almost every kind of light connected with the operation of a vehicle or cycle on a highway in British Columbia, so it's time to widen our view to the roadside. Have you been blinded by the light emitted by newer LED advertising signs?

I don't know about you, but I can point to a few roadside advertising signs that I'm familiar with that cause me discomfort due to their brightness when I approach them in darkness. It is almost as if the lighting level needed to make the sign stand out during the day has not been moderated when night falls. Since your eyes quickly adapt to the brightness level but take significantly longer to return to dark vision after you pass the sign, this can be a dangerous situation.

Depending on where you are driving, signs beside the highway are regulated by municipalities within their borders or the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure outside of municipalities. Either municipal bylaws or the Transportation Act provide the authority to require changes if these signs are a nuisance to passing road users. These bodies are also the authorities that grant permission to install the signs in the first place.

I cannot find any published standards for how much light from LED signs is considered to be hazardous, so complaints about them may be difficult to satisfy. The opinion of the MOTI official or bylaw enforcement officer may or may not match yours. However, a carefully worded complaint outlining your difficulty should raise the possibility of liability for a crash with both the official and the sign owner and that may be enough to cause a change.

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

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his 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.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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