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Behind the Wheel  

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...

Scooters & sidewalks

Sep 26, 2015 / 5:00 am
When it comes to motorized scooters/wheelchairs, most people know that they belong on the sidewalk with other pedestrians, not on the roads with other vehicles. Less well known is that they don't need licence plates or insurance if operated by someone with a disability. Who would have...

Passed and forgotten

Sep 19, 2015 / 5:00 am
The topic of choice in the DriveSmartBC e-mail box this past week has been about drivers who pass you in the left lane of a multiple lane highway and then immediately change lanes back in front of you. This action leaves less (sometimes much less) than optimum following distance between you and the...

Disobeying physics

Sep 12, 2015 / 5:00 am
You may be able to disregard the rules in the Motor Vehicle Act and survive, but flouting the laws of physics when you drive will eventually result in a collision. I spent a decade dealing with concepts like perception - reaction time, coefficients of friction and maximum acceleration when I did a...

Two way left turn lane

Sep 5, 2015 / 5:00 am
A gentleman from Courtenay explained about the regular difficulty that he encountered when he used the two way left turn lanes in that city. Most recently, he was travelling northbound on Cliffe Avenue attempting a left turn into Tim Horton's. A woman turned southbound out of the Husky just...

Trailer pre-trip inspections

Aug 29, 2015 / 5:00 am
One of the more eye-opening exercises that I used to conduct at this time of the year was to park my police vehicle at the brake check and wave in vehicles pulling boat trailers for a mechanical inspection. I had learned that boat trailers were often the most poorly maintained of all recreational...

Shame bad drivers publicly?

Aug 22, 2015 / 5:00 am
Deliberately bad drivers seem to be appearing more and more often on our highways. If e-mail to the DriveSmartBC website is any indication, other drivers are no longer shrugging it off and report offenders in the hope that they will be held accountable. Some, including myself, have taken to posting...

How many tie downs?

Aug 15, 2015 / 5:00 am
The load consisted of rough lumber, about 2x6 or 2x8 size 12 to 14 feet long and 3 feet high on a flat deck trailer pulled by a large pickup truck. Load security was provided by a single heavy strap wrapped once around the middle of the load. The combination was being pulled at highway speed which...

Rossland slows down

Aug 8, 2015 / 5:00 am
The City of Rossland has done something rare in our motor vehicle centric world where many drivers think that faster is better. Effective on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 the speed on municipal streets has been lowered to 30 km/h. Hmm you say, that's the same speed as a school zone. Well, not in...

Pedestrian with death wish

Aug 1, 2015 / 5:00 am
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...

Advance warning needed

Jul 25, 2015 / 5:00 am
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...

Car jail for smokers

Jul 18, 2015 / 5:00 am
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...

Reporting a hit and run

Jul 11, 2015 / 5:00 am
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,...

Distracted driving

Jul 4, 2015 / 5:00 am
British Columbians are very concerned about the threat posed by distracted driving according to those leaving feedback on the government website created to solicit public input on the subject. Our province has the second lowest penalties for those caught handling a cellular phone when they should...

Traffic stop questioning

Jun 27, 2015 / 5:00 am
What do you have to tell police when you are the subject of a traffic stop? I've often been asked about whether you have to answer the casual conversation at a road check that might include questions like, "Where are you coming from?" "Where are you going to?" ...

Reflectors are important

Jun 6, 2015 / 5:00 am
An important piece of safety equipment that is often overlooked on all variety of vehicles is the humble reflector. Why do I need reflectors? I've got lights! I heard this many times at the roadside after pointing out a lack of reflectors to a driver. True, but what happens if you...

Bike lanes confusing?

May 30, 2015 / 5:00 am
I hate to admit it, but bicycle lanes confuse me. The Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) defines them as a designated use lane that is part of the highway, but not part of the roadway. Both the province and municipalities are able to create designated use lanes and restrict who may use them through...

Vehicles doing the thinking?

May 23, 2015 / 5:00 am
I remember what I was a teenager (yes, that was a few years ago) working in my father's service station. The latest safety gadget in new vehicles was a buzzer that warned the driver when seatbelts were not fastened. That's a good idea, right? Apparently not, as customers were coming in to...

E-ticketing and ticket dispute

May 16, 2015 / 5:00 am
There was a brief flurry in the media a couple of weeks ago about the implementation of electronic traffic tickets and dispute adjudication replacing traffic court. I had not heard anything about this from the provincial government after the publication of the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act to...

ORV registration required

May 9, 2015 / 5:00 am
If you intend to operate your off road vehicle (ORV) anywhere on public lands after June 1, 2015 you have just three weeks left to register it through ICBC. When the vehicle is registered an off road vehicle license plate will be issued and must be displayed. The changes replaced outdated...

Heavy truck 'no zones'

May 2, 2015 / 5:00 am
I first wrote about drivers whose behaviour in the "no zone" around heavy trucks left much to be desired back in 2004. Little seems to have changed since then as when I listen to the trucking radio channels the most common complaint involves drivers who jam themselves in front of a truck...

Defensive drivers signal

Apr 25, 2015 / 5:00 am
During the question and answer portion of any group presentation that I give, someone always asks about the use of turn signals. They are either curious to know what they must do or are being sarcastic about the drivers that they see around them that never signal. It's usually the latter but...

Cyclists not second class

Apr 18, 2015 / 5:00 am
I read a story in the Victoria Times Colonist this morning regarding crashes involving motor vehicles and cyclists using the Galloping Goose trail. The article was prompted by a cyclist who had ridden across Ardersier Road and was struck by a driver who had stopped for the stop sign and then failed...

Look waaay ahead!

Apr 11, 2015 / 5:00 am
Imagine making a lane change and crashing into a fully marked police vehicle stopped at the side of the highway with all of its emergency lights operating. I can only guess that the driver was not properly scanning his environment and looking far enough ahead to anticipate issues before they...
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.