New-driver restrictions

B.C.'s Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) was implemented to develop driving skills in a safe, step by step manner.

Today, they are a widely accepted, effective safety measure. The systems that have been evaluated have been found to be very effective in reducing crashes and injuries, and public acceptance is high.

In the beginning, a driver earns a Learner Driver licence that is subject to a set of restrictions that mandates the presence of an instructor and sets passenger restrictions to reduce the possibility of distractions.

There are hours of the day restrictions as well, although midnight to 5:00 am is probably a time when most of them are sound asleep by personal choice.

After a year of practice with a supervisor and passing a road test, the GLP Learner becomes a Novice and restrictions are relaxed in comparison to the Learner. A passenger restriction of one person applies unless the Novice is accompanied by an instructor.

In the case of both, the Learner and the Novice restrictions of zero blood alcohol, prohibition on the use of electronic devices while driving and the requirement to display a new driver sign apply.

After passing another road test, the successful Novice will be issued a full privilege driver's licence. Of course, any driver may be the subject of restrictions if there is a need for them.

Examples of these restrictions include such things a the requirement to wear corrective lenses or to be fitted with a prosthesis or leg brace. This document lists the possible restrictions on page 115.

At the onset of the GLP program new drivers who disobeyed any of the restrictions were ticketed under section 25(15) of the Motor Vehicle Act. A conviction carried both a fine and penalty points.

As new drivers are subject to lower thresholds for prohibition from accumulated penalty points there was soon a large number of new drivers who had lost their licences for failing to display new driver signs.

The solution was to implement division 30.13 and later division 30.10 in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations which did not result in penalty points for failing to display, only fines.

Police were encouraged to use the new regulation for driver sign violators instead of section 25(15).

Of B.C.'s 3.3 million licensed drivers, over a quarter million of them are Learner or Novice drivers. That's about one in 12. I suspect that we should be seeing more new driver signs displayed on vehicles around us as we drive.

Of course, that depends on who you ask. There are many opinions about the display of new driver signs, including some well qualified people who feel that the N sign should not be required.

This article was actually prompted by the inquiry from a friend whose teenaged daughter asked him for permission to ride with friends contrary to their licence restrictions. He refused to give her permission and began to search for what the repercussions would be if she did not follow the rules thinking that they would be serious ones.

Really, the worst thing that can happen aside from a ticket under 25 (15) for the driver is having the police prohibit the driver from proceeding until licence conditions are met. He could receive a telephone summons to come and pick up his daughter from the side of the highway.

Many of our problems on the highway result from people who treat the rules as something to follow as long as it is convenient. If it isn't convenient, they do as they please. Sadly, this lesson is one that is passed down easily and followed without further thought by new drivers.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/new-driver-licence-restrictions

Website warrior tells all

Things I've Learned From Running a Road Safety Website

The DriveSmartBC website has been in existence for just over nine years now.

It has been and continues to be a very interesting hobby for me. I thought that this week I would review a few of the things I have learned from being a road safety webmaster.

I hate to admit it, but I make mistakes. Thank goodness few of them survive the editing process, but some saves have come very close to the click of the publish button.

The last article concerning roundabouts owes one correction to Paul who watched it in the process of being written and telephoned me about it before I was done. Thanks to all my editors.

We all think that we are driving experts. I regularly receive e-mails suggesting that I write an article to tell drivers that they cannot or must (insert topic of choice). Most are right on, but some are partly or totally incorrect.

Discussions among adults on a website occasionally deteriorate to the debating style of Ralph Kramden.

I know I'm dating myself when I say that, but some of the back and forth proceeded to the point where it looked like he who shouts loudest wins.

Oddly, it seems to be the male drivers involved in these on-line contests.

Everyone knows (insert your assertion here). I work hard to find good examples to link to in my articles and hope that they are not unconsciously biased. It can be very interesting to see what results when I ask a commenter to back up their observations with a link.

Sometimes I learn from it and sometimes they learn from it. Either way, we both benefit.

People will tell you all sorts of things that you should not know. DriveSmartBC appears to occasionally be mistaken for a website run by either the provincial government or ICBC.

E-mails sent to me in the past have contained some combination of a full name, address, birthdate and driver's licence number along with a request to take some action for the person.

Please be careful people; someone dishonest can do bad things with this information.

The gist of may emails is: If something is not done about a situation, the resulting crash will kill someone. There, I've said my piece and it's now in your hands to solve the problem. Don't expect me to do anything else.

This can be very frustrating for me because I am willing to put in time to help them take action to make improvements and sometimes do before I find out that they really want someone else to do it for them.

ICBC is always accommodating when I ask for data or advice. I can also say that the response usually arrives in my inbox promptly. When it does not, there is a good reason why not.

Dealing with the provincial government can be hit or miss. If you know the right person to ask, anything is possible. Some e-mail requests disappear forever, never to be heard from again. Occasionally a response bears very little connection to the question that was asked.

A follow up request may be met with the same answer repeated over again or no response at all. Ditto for municipal governments.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge some very good people I have met along the way:

  • Dan and Paul are driving instructors who volunteer their time to discuss road safety and provided their free time to give check out drives to a couple of lucky newsletter subscribers.
  • Steve at Wallace Driving School did the same.
  • Mike at Quickscribe Services provided an account to keep track of legislation changes with.
  • Paul Hergott contributes counsel and writing examples to follow.

Thank you to everyone, especially those of you who take the time to read my efforts each week.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/what-ive-learned-running-web-site

Stop, even if there is no train

I'm lucky to be part of Vancouver Island University's Elder College program.

It's one of 18 similar programs throughout British Columbia and is aimed at participants who are 50 or older. I present two, three-hour seminars on driving and always seem to learn something myself through interaction with the group.

Drivers will often ignore things that don't make sense to them. One participant was curious if she would run into trouble by not stopping for a stop sign posted at an E&N Railway crossing. The railway is almost completely dormant due to the track condition.

She has also noticed that some crossings are posted with stop signs and others nearby are not.

There's only one answer to her question, regardless of how little train traffic that crossing sees, you have to stop and proceed when safe. Not doing so could invite a ticket and ingrain improper behaviour that could result in ignoring a stop sign at an active railway crossing.

A common complaint within the group concerns following distances. It seems that as soon as you are able to establish a comfortable following distance, another driver changes lanes and fills it in. Many of those drivers also leave very little distance between their back bumper and your front one when they do this.

I agree, it's frustrating. These drivers appear to have forgotten the rule of thumb that you need to see all of the front of the vehicle behind you in the centre rear view mirror before you change lanes. The wisest course is to drop back and re-establish your safety margin.

How long is one car length was the next question.

Don't think of following distance in terms of car lengths as we tend to have difficulty judging that by eye. Instead think seconds. Leave at least two seconds following distance to act as a buffer.

When roads are busy, it's night time or conditions are rainy or slippery, leave ever more time to react and stop.

The discussion of two-way left turn lanes sometimes results in blank stares when I explain that the only way to legally leave them is by turning left. Many drivers use them as acceleration lanes after making a left turn onto a busy street.

The lane change to the right from the two way left turn lane is a case of disobeying a traffic control device.

Finally, I've learned that many drivers have never taken the time to read the owner's manual for their vehicle.

This is critically important in relation to occupant restraints (airbags, seatbelts and child seats). Being out of position or improperly restrained could be fatal! The simplest way to protect yourself is to read that manual.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/what-i-learned-elder-college


Be careful where you park

According to Reinventing Parking, our cars sit idle for 95 per cent of the time.

This means that we need a proper place to store them when they are not being used. The nature of the demand for parking spaces has created a collection of rules and defines the urgency for their enforcement.

The biggest parking circus that I was ever part of occurred one B.C. Day long weekend in Penticton when I was assigned to assist the bylaw officer trying to maintain control over the city parking lot at the Skaha Lake beach.

As fast as we could write bylaw tickets and hail a tow truck, someone would arrive and leave their vehicle parked in clearly marked spaces for the handicapped or emergency vehicles. When those were full, they simply parked wherever they felt there was room even though there was no marked space.

One driver waited patiently for the tow truck to remove a vehicle, parked on the now empty spot and jumped out. The bylaw officer explained that he could not park there. So what? was the response. I'll be gone before the tow truck gets back.

He wasn't. We made sure that his vehicle was next.

Of course, this example of a bad attitude toward others and most drivers don't behave this way. However, give some people an inch and they will park on it.

At the most basic are the rules that cover the entire province contained in the Motor Vehicle Act.

In some cases, the act of stopping your vehicle is forbidden. Generally these situations are where stopping would cause a significant difficulty for others such as in front of a fire hydrant, obstructing a traffic control or across the end of someone's driveway.

  • In most situations, this includes places marked with a yellow curb.
  • Obstructing the free passage of traffic on a highway must not be done.
  • Parking on the travelled part of a highway would inconvenience others, so parking on the roadway is forbidden outside of a business or residence district.
  • In either case, you may do either of these things temporarily if your vehicle has broken down and it is impractical to move it.

Where stopping and parking is permitted, there is a prescribed manner for doing so. This is:

  • on the right side of the driver
  • parallel to the edge
  • within 30 centimetres of the curb if one is present.
  • An unattended parked vehicle must be locked or made secure to prevent unauthorized use.

If the parking rules are not followed, the police are given authority to remove the offending vehicle from the highway. If it is left on private property, the authority to remove the vehicle rests with the occupier of the property.

With the big picture now out of the way, we can narrow our focus to the local level. Municipalities have the authority to control stopping, standing and parking of vehicles within their boundaries as long as the rules are consistent with those that we've already explored.

Generally, you will find them in a parking, street or traffic bylaw, which can be accessed on line.

One common caveat is that zoning bylaws may also control the parking of vehicles. Most often this regulates if and when one can park recreation or commercial vehicles on residential property.

Finally, at the micro level, you may need to know about strata bylaws. I once had my vehicle towed because I had visited a friend in an apartment building and did not know that I was required to use designated visitor parking spaces even though the parking lot was half empty.

I wish that the signs were posted more obviously and that my friend had thought to tell me before the fact, but it won't happen twice.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/parking/parking

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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