Get 'em off the road

Problems with vehicles can range from overdue maintenance to modifications that may be described as fashion over function.

Responsibility for their correction rests principally with the owner and driver.

When that fails, it now falls to the police and designated inspection facilities to either nudge or force correction.

Depending on the severity of the defects, remedies can range from a simple reminder to a tow truck and seizure of the vehicle license and number plates.

Even with limited use, our vehicles eventually wear out and break down. Our legislators have established rules that must be met in order to rent or legally operate a vehicle on the highway.

In general, they are contained in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations and the Vehicle Inspection Regulation.

Unfortunately, the Vehicle Inspection Regulation is exempt from publication and is not freely available to access. You can buy a copy of it, purchase online access or possibly read it at your local library.

The first onus is on the driver or renter of a vehicle to insure that it is roadworthy before the key is turned. I've examined a daily pre-trip inspection required of commercial vehicle drivers in the article Is your vehicle mechanically fit?

We're not required to periodically examine our personal passenger vehicles in this fashion and many of us lack the necessary skills and knowledge to do so, but it is still a good idea for someone to do it.

Repair businesses often offer "free" vehicle inspections in spring and fall or will do it as part of minor paid maintenance such as oil changes. If you don't do your own maintenance, this may be worthwhile to consider.

The owner may not be driving, but they are still required to exercise reasonable care and due diligence before they allow someone else to use their vehicle.

There is even greater responsibility when it is driven by an employee.

If a vehicle is roadworthy at the beginning of a trip but becomes defective along the way, the rules require that it be removed from the highway without delay. If the vehicle can be safely driven, the removal and trip to the repair shop is not subject to the equipment regulations.

So, what happens when all of these responsibilities are ignored? Enforcement of vehicle repairs falls to the police.

The first tool available to law enforcement is the Notice & Order.

Depending on the urgency of the required repair, box 1, 2 or 3 may be checked by the officer. Each places different requirements on the vehicle and recipient.

The least critical situation will result in a Notice & Order #3.

It simply asks that the identified repairs be made immediately and that the vehicle be presented as indicated to insure that this had been done.

For more serious defects, a Notice & Order #2 will be issued. The vehicle must be promptly taken to a designated inspection facility for examination by an authorized inspector and all problems identified repaired within 30 days.

Notice & Order #1 is reserved for vehicles that are dangerous to operate. A tow truck will be called to remove the vehicle and it must not be parked or operated on a highway until it has undergone inspection, repairs have been made and a pass has been obtained.

ICBC flags the vehicle licence records for all vehicles subject to a Notice & Order #1 or #2. Autoplan Agents will refuse transactions related to the vehicle until the order has been complied with.

In addition, these flagged records are available to the police at roadside. Officers will follow up with further actions and charges, which could include towing and a $575 fine.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/improperly-modified-and-defective-vehicles

Left-lane hoggers

Why is Everyone in the Left Lane?

More and more often when I drive on a busy highway, I'm finding much of the traffic jammed into the left lane, each driver trying unsuccessfully to get ahead of the others.

One would think that this situation would be akin to being the proverbial kid in the candy store for anyone in traffic law enforcement, violations everywhere.

Slower traffic failing to keep right, following too closely, unsafe lane change, cross single solid line, failing to signal lane change and, depending on your point of view, the root cause of much of this: attempting to exceed the speed limit.

No one likes a left lane blocker. This statement is not proven by enforcement activity, however. There were a grand total of 24 tickets written under section 150(2) MVA in the entire province for failing to move right in 2015.

We'll see if anything has changed with the introduction of section 151.1 MVA when I receive ticket data for 2016 from ICBC.

If you missed it, this is the new law requiring that you exit the leftmost lane when another vehicle approaches from behind when you are driving on highways with a posted speed of 80 km/h or higher and traffic is moving at a speed of at least 50 km/h.

There are exemptions to this. No need to move over if you are using an HOV lane, preparing for a left turn, passing another vehicle, allowing someone to merge, or following the slow down, move over law.

When I worked traffic enforcement, I always saw following too closely as the greater evil when compared to failing to move over.

This may be the prevailing view because there were 2,400 tickets for this written to the drivers of light vehicles and 34 to drivers of commercial vehicles in 2015.

The driver in front was often already driving faster than the posted speed limit and that indicated to me that the tailgater trying to go faster still. No sense hanging back at a safe distance and hoping the driver in front will move over, is there?

Crossing a single solid white line to change lanes is forbidden. Those who are trying to get ahead using the HOV lane are frequent violators.

They will move out of the HOV lane, pass on the right using the leftmost or "fast" lane and then move back into the HOV lane again.

About 1,800 of these violation tickets were issued in 2015.

Please, tell me that you are going to change lanes by using your signal light, preferably in advance of doing it. A defensive driver always signals, even when they think that they are the only vehicle on the road. 1,800 tickets were issued to those that failed in this task in 2015.

That leaves us with speeding. Speed related charges amounted to 163,213 in 2015, That's almost 37 per cent of all tickets issued that year.

This is a reduction compared to 2014 where 176,320 or about 39 per cent of tickets were for speeding in some form.

Perhaps it's time to let automated enforcement deal with some of those speeding tickets and have the police refocus their attention on dangerous behaviours that need to be dealt with in person.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/aggressive-driving/why-everyone-left-lane

A comedy of errors

Last week, ICBC rolled out a new road safety campaign called Drive Smart.

It's aimed at increasing driver knowledge, promoting staying focused while driving and looking out for the safety of other road users. There is also a special social media hashtag: #KnowYourPartBC.

Two online quizzes help identify gaps in driving knowledge.

You can test your general driving skills or road sign recognition by answering 25 multiple choice questions. If you need to brush up a bit after, you can review Learn to Drive Smart and Tuning Up For Drivers on line as well.

If you are a motorcyclist, the Learn to Ride Smart and Tuning Up for Riders guides are only a click away.

Do you pull a trailer? Towing a Recreational Trailer is your reference guide.

Probably the biggest hurdle this campaign will have is overcoming the Better Than Average Driver bias. Drivers must believe something lies within their control before training will influence their decisions. 

If a driver is receptive to change, there is probably always room for some improvement. Even though we may have been driving for many years, errors and omissions creep into our daily driving routine.

This was highlighted for me when I arranged for a driver to trade his speeding ticket for driver training. Identifying his shortcomings coupled with a willingness to improve did more for road safety than the speeding ticket alone in my opinion.

That kind of attitude is what must be developed to replace the "me first!" outlook held by many who share the road with us. See - Think - Do is often short circuited by selfishness.

A prime example of this kind of behaviour does not take long to find.

On my last trip, about two thirds of traffic was jammed into the left lane, all travelling slightly over the speed limit. Most failed to allow for safe following distance and the pair just in front of me was joined by a pickup pulling a boat on a trailer.

Rather than move to the right lane, both cars continued in the left lane, seemingly oblivious to what was behind.

That didn't deter the pickup driver. He just moved up to within about a parking space length of the second vehicle and sat there waiting for the other two to get out of his way.

Is this deliberate intimidation, overconfidence or simply a failure to appreciate the risk?

The failure of the two other drivers to move right is either a mistaken act of entitlement or a failure to effectively monitor traffic and adjust accordingly.

Can the latest campaign help overcome a comedy of errors like this one?

Yes, especially if we realize that the problem includes us all and we resolve to do something to improve.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/comedy-errors

What's your road attitude?

Perhaps the most effective way to improve road safety is by improving road-user attitude.

If selfish and unsafe behaviours can be shown as detrimental and users convinced to choose what is beneficial on their own, reaching our Vision Zero targets have a better chance of being successful.

Some people are willing to change their outlook when it makes sense to do so, but we also share the road with those who are not willing.

A prime example of those who are not willing was found in a letter to the editor of the Nanaimo News Bulletin on July 25, attributed to a D. Parker of Victoria.

I have just received a $167 ticket. I was photographed at the Norwell Drive-Island Highway intersection supposedly running a red light on a left turn. The photo shows my vehicle travelling through the intersection while all traffic in the oncoming lane was at a standstill so still observing a red light.

I was not aware that photo radar was back in vogue. I cannot remember seeing any warning signs as to this cash trap anywhere.

I am a pensioner who was just returning from a very nice trip with my wife and four grandkids in Parksville, so I was not about to take any chances. We live in Victoria, but wanted to stop for lunch at one of your local restaurants then take our grandkids to two local attractions and buy gas.

Therefore, this unscheduled stop has now ended up costing me and my family the $167 ripoff and the $225 we spent on local businesses – a total of $392.

The ticket I received distinctly says this money will be used to support the municipality’s cost of local policing. Well, you won’t be getting any more from our family – I will stop in a friendlier municipality in future.

Here's a driver who ran a red light while making a left turn and received a red light camera ticket in the mail for that action. He justifies himself by saying that he is a pensioner who doesn't take risks, opposing traffic was stopped and he wasn't told that a red light camera was in operation at that intersection.

The $167 penalty was a ripoff and from now on he's going to prefer visits to municipalities that don't have red light cameras.

All of this does not change the fact that he made a very human error and failed to stop as required for a red light. He did not cause a collision, this time.

This particular intersection had the highest number of reported collisions in Nanaimo from 2011 to 2015 according to ICBC's crash map. 140 of the 301 crashes resulted in casualties.

No doubt road users who failed to follow traffic signal directions played a role in establishing that total, but we are not told what the contributing factors were via the map.

Do you think that the real message in that letter to the editor was "I don't like the fact that automated enforcement is holding me to account for my mistake."

On the subject of automated enforcement, I saw an interesting Tweet last week from @JRogers202:

  •     It's irresponsible to call this a speed trap. Like calling cameras in a bank a robbery trap. JUST. DRIVE. THE. SPEED. LIMIT.

He was referring to photo radar which the Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission is trying to have returned to the Malahat Highway.

The proposed system is different from the Safari van sitting at the roadside that measured your speed as you passed it. The point-to-point system calculates your average speed over a set distance instead.

Experience with this scheme in Europe shows reductions in speed and significant reductions in collisions.

Rate pressures for our Autoplan insurance are increasing right along with our collision claims and costs.

A recent report done for ICBC suggests increasing automated enforcement, adding 100 new IRSU positions and enabling the red light camera's ability to do speed enforcement on green.

It also suggests implementing automated enforcement technologies to counter distracted driving as they become available.

If the cost of collisions is not reduced, Autoplan may have to become a no fault plan in order to keep insurance rates affordable. I would rather see rates kept low by collision reduction instead.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/driver-attitude-and-automated-enforcement

More Behind the Wheel articles

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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