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Behind the Wheel  

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...
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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...

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...
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



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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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