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Behind-the-Wheel  

It's your problem

Jul 19, 2016 / 6:00 am
People like to feel safe in their neighbourhood and would like everyone to obey the driving rules when they are in it. So, what do you do when this is not the case? The answer depends on how much you want to become involved in the solution. Years of contact with people through my DriveSmartBC...

Send a surrogate to court

Jul 12, 2016 / 7:00 pm
You’ve waited for your day in traffic court, and it’s drawing near. Trouble is, you can’t be there. What to do now? Send an agent, of course. The Offence Act provides for appearance by an agent, who is not a lawyer, instead of the driver who was issued the traffic ticket....

Fight that ticket

Jul 5, 2016 / 6:00 am
Dispute a traffic ticket penalty without attending court Are you guilty of the offence on the ticket, but can't pay the amount? In many cases, you can have the fine reviewed and set to a penalty more appropriate for your circumstances without having to set foot in traffic court. When...

The pedestrian scramble

Jun 28, 2016 / 12:00 pm
How does a pedestrian scramble across the road? I had the pleasure of visiting Banff as a tourist this spring. The downtown area of the city has been remade with pedestrians in mind. The sidewalks are wide, speed limits are reduced and the three pedestrian scrambles move a lot of people more...

Go! Go! Go!

Jun 21, 2016 / 12:00 pm
Is slow driving unacceptable? Argh! The driver in front of me is not doing the speed limit. I’ll admit I often feel this way, even when the speed differential is as low as five to 10 km/h. I have to tell myself to relax and follow until there is a safe opportunity to pass by or even be...

A grumpy idea

Jun 14, 2016 / 6:00 am
Complaints Anonymous - A Traffic Violator Database Proposal I never know what I will find when I check the DriveSmartBC e-mail in-box. Today’s gem came from someone who identifies themself as Grumpy and suggested that he was thinking that maybe I could use the website to contain a...

Pedestrian thoughts

Jun 8, 2016 / 10:47 am
I was asked two interesting questions in an email last week: “Is it law or simply a rule in B.C. that pedestrians should walk facing traffic when there are no sidewalks? What happens when the highway maintenance company doesn't leave a shoulder to walk on?” As I contemplate my...


Safe child restraints

May 31, 2016 / 6:00 am
Buying and selling used child restraints My dear wife had her tablet open the other evening and told me about a minor furore in a local buy-and-sell group on Facebook. Someone in the group was trying to sell a child safety seat and was being badgered because it was against the law to sell car...

Distracting penalties

May 24, 2016 / 11:00 am
Penalty Points and How They Affect You I’ve always understood penalty points to be a kind of score-keeping method to assign a level of risk to the breach of a traffic rule. The more dangerous the violation, the more penalty points assigned to a driving conviction. Rack up too many...

Slow down, breathe easier

May 17, 2016 / 6:00 am
I’m in a world of mixed messages. Some are real, some are emotional, some are false and some come from the government. The one that I would like to tackle here might be a bit odd for DriveSmartBC but the consequences could be related back to safety. I’m thinking about...

Trailer tug test revisited

May 10, 2016 / 3:00 pm
Back in 2004, I put tongue in cheek and wrote about the trailer tug test: Hook up the trailer, drive off and look in the rear view mirror, if it’s still following you, carry on. Yesterday I found myself behind a couple of vehicles pulling trailers, and wondered if their drivers had read...

Shadow the brake

May 3, 2016 / 6:00 am
One evening while patrolling in an unmarked police car I approached a cross street that was controlled by stop signs. I could see a car approaching from my right, going fast enough I was concerned that the driver did not intend to stop. I shadowed my brake pedal, and when the other vehicle was...

Not-so-professional driver

Apr 26, 2016 / 4:00 pm
I'm one of those odd drivers who tries their best to drive at or below the posted speed limit. I include the word ‘below’ here, as sometimes there is a need, for safety reasons, to slow down to less than the posted speed limit. This often has consequences when I have to share...

Me? Speed? No way!

Apr 19, 2016 / 3:00 pm
Yo mama Arresting someone, fighting with them, throwing them in jail, and seeing them through to penalty in criminal court is generally considered by the public to be business as usual for the police. But write someone a traffic ticket, and it's like you've called their mother a bad...

Welcome to the Cone Zone

Apr 12, 2016 / 7:00 am
What is the real cost to you in a construction zone? “What construction zone? I didn't see any signs back there!” This irate motorist was adamant in expressing what she thought of the traffic ticket I was issuing to her for speeding in a construction zone. I suggested that...

We're lousy drivers

Apr 5, 2016 / 4:10 pm
We don’t have a very good opinion of ourselves, it turns out. A recent poll by Insights West found that 50% of Canadians think the drivers in their city or town are worse than they were five years ago. The two top groups seen as bad drivers by the majority taking the poll were youth and...

Sleep, text, be impaired

Mar 29, 2016 / 11:46 am
Sleep, text, be impaired - while supervising a new driver Every once in a while someone will pose a question that makes me go, “Hmm . . .” This week, someone asked me, “Does a driver supervisor have to be sane?” Without thinking, my response was that of course a...

Are you smart, road user?

Mar 22, 2016 / 1:15 pm
The way we were I grew up in a small town where there were no sidewalks to speak of. As children, we didn't pay much attention to the rule that required us to walk on the left facing oncoming traffic, but we did make sure that we were on the edge or even off the pavement when a vehicle drove...

Park and tow

Mar 15, 2016 / 1:00 pm
The woes and tows of parking in the wrong spot Picture leaving your car in the parking lot at the mall, only to discover that it is no longer where you left it when you return15 minutes later. I know I’d be thinking that my car had been stolen. This was not the case for a woman in...

Distracted driving

Mar 8, 2016 / 5:00 pm
When we think of distracted driving, most of us immediately consider cell phone use. While this might be the most common example used in distracted driving campaigns, it is certainly not the only one. Any action that takes the driver’s attention away from the driving task is distracting, and...

Don't be a drifter

Mar 1, 2016 / 11:47 am
Stay in your own lane Part of the road near where I live has a set of winding curves on a steep grade. I seldom drive this stretch of road without encountering an oncoming vehicle partway into my lane, over the double solid yellow line. There is no reason for this that I can see, except that the...

Beware the morning after

Feb 23, 2016 / 8:57 pm
Party Hearty! Some people seem to make a contest over how much alcohol they can drink and still function. Early in my policing career, it was not uncommon to find a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level between .30 and .36. These people were truly drunk, and not just impaired as most of us...

The respectful driver

Feb 16, 2016 / 3:00 pm
The Respectful Driver - Fact or Fiction? I've been reading Moving to Vision Zero: Road Safety Strategy Update and Showcase of Innovation in British Columbia and was struck by these words: "The Safe System Approach enables more ambitious progress by treating the road system as a...

How not to get run over

Feb 9, 2016 / 7:00 am
In Castanet News last week, there was a story about a Surrey family hit by a car while using a newly marked crosswalk. Two young children were seriously injured, and while the police did not specify a reason for the incident, the spokesman did say that the family members were not the only...

It won't happen to me

Feb 2, 2016 / 12:59 pm
Have you ever met anyone who admits to being less than a good driver? Probably not. You know, in your own mind, that you are an excellent driver, just as you know everybody else isn't. This is called optimism bias, and it is something that affects us all. We are optimistic about our...

Do you know the rules?

Jan 26, 2016 / 12:02 pm
The interaction I have with others on the subject of driving and traffic laws is always very interesting. Some people illustrate their points with incorrect information while some, despite years of driving, find they don't actually have a solid grasp of the laws. I am always learning...

Nothing but a tax grab

Jan 19, 2016 / 12:43 pm
"This is nothing but a tax grab!" These words are often spoken by drivers after signing to acknowledge receipt of a violation ticket. I can understand the frustration in these circumstances, but I wish there was a little thought behind it, rather than just parroting something...

Stop! But when?

Jan 12, 2016 / 6:00 am
Where to stop at a stop sign? Would you believe me if I told you that the positioning of a stop sign at an intersection has nothing to do with where you must stop? Yes, the sign tells you that you must stop, but the markings on the roadway, or lack of them, tell you where the stop has to...

You're on the wrong side

Jan 5, 2016 / 6:00 am
Why are you on the wrong side of the road? If you watch one of Canada Post's community mailboxes for a day, you will almost certainly see someone drive up and cross over to the wrong side of road to retrieve their mail. If the driver's arm is long enough, they don't even have to...

Reporting vehicle pollution

Dec 22, 2015 / 6:00 am
A visitor to the DriveSmartBC site asked the following question: "I have seen a few trucks driving around residential areas that are really polluting. I wanted to report them somewhere . . . do you know how can I report this truck?" It's a great question, as vehicles like this...

Variable speed limits

Dec 15, 2015 / 6:00 am
Finding a safe travel speed when road conditions are iffy can be a hard call. I can recall responding to a crash on a icy divided highway where both the ambulance and I were in the left lane. Even with the urgency of the situation, travelling at 95 in the posted 110 km/h zone felt the...

Driving without thinking

Dec 8, 2015 / 6:00 am
Unless you are the only vehicle on the highway (and one can never be entirely certain of that), you are one piece in a two dimensional puzzle that must fit in with all the other pieces. Put simply, before you do something, you must consider how that will affect you, and all the others around...

The selfish driver

Dec 1, 2015 / 6:00 am
Driving should be about cooperation, not a contest. My point of view has been influenced by four decades of driving experience, 25 years of collision investigation, and daily observation of what goes on around me when I drive. Yes, I am one of ‘those drivers’. I use the...

Drive for Uber? Maybe not

Nov 24, 2015 / 6:00 am
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...

Feeling the pressure?

Nov 10, 2015 / 6:00 am
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...

Convicted in Alberta

Nov 3, 2015 / 6:00 am
“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...

Avoiding penalty points

Oct 27, 2015 / 6:00 am
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...

IRP program survives

Oct 20, 2015 / 5:00 am
Lee Michael Wilson was stopped by police officer who detected an odour of liquor on his breath. He subsequently provided a sample of breath to two different Approved Screening Devices (ASD), both of which registered a WARN reading. Mr. Wilson was issued an Immediate Roadside Prohibition (IRP) for...

Who to believe?

Oct 13, 2015 / 5:00 am
I’ve just finished reading Eliminating Serious Injury and Death From Road Transport by Ian Ronald Johnston, and find myself in agreement with much of its content. The time I've spent in traffic law enforcement and the investigation of a large number of collisions has shown me that...

Winter tire dilemma

Oct 3, 2015 / 5:00 am
I began driving my own car in the mid-fifties, and always used winter tires on the rear only during winter months. With so many years of driving under my belt, I feel confident in my own ability to manage winter driving with the traction arrangement for rear drive. But what of others? The answer is...
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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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