We need another sign

I live near a section of Highway 19 that travels through a built-up area.

The highway changes from four lanes divided by a barrier with a posted speed of 90 km/h to four lanes that is not divided posted at 60 km/h. So few people slow to 60 that I often hear long time locals asking new residents if they have gotten a speeding ticket there yet.

Before the median barrier was installed, this 60 km/h zone was part of the highest collision zone policed by Central Vancouver Island Traffic Services.

A couple of afternoons ago, there was a two-vehicle collision in that 60 zone that blocked northbound traffic.

I posted details on Facebook in a local residents' group as there was no path around the collision scene and traffic would be held up until emergency services dealt with the situation.

The post triggered a discussion that included frustrated comments on how difficult it was to get onto the highway from side roads and that drivers regularly failed to stop for the traffic light in the middle of the zone.

Since this is a high-collision area, it was also suggested that the appropriate authority be contacted to have a sign to that effect posted with the hope that drivers would slow down.

Which would you rather do when turning left from a stop sign: cross two lanes of traffic to enter a third lane when everyone is travelling at 60 km/h or at 90 km/h?

Why is that such an easy choice when you are turning from a side road, but not when you are the through traffic?

I've seen some novel ways to cope such as turning into the oncoming left-turn lane and then moving right into the through lane.

The traffic lights at the intersection are preceded by advance warning signs. One would think that if the drivers were paying attention, red-light running would not occur.

Having said that, I wonder if the advanced warning lights are timed for drivers who are obeying the speed limit. If they are, the lights will not come on soon enough to provide sufficient warning for those that remained at 90 km/h (or more).

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed a dynamic speed display sign on the southbound side of the zone. It is unfortunate that the area is not covered by a traffic count station so that we can see if there has been an improvement or not.

There is some indication of high-collision area signs for wildlife having an effect on driver's speeds, but I was not able to find data not related to wildlife.

Do you suppose that drivers who don't obey the 60 km/h speed signs will pay more attention to a high collision area sign? Perhaps.

About a decade ago, I attended an open house hosted by the MOTI. They presented four plans for public comment on modifications to this stretch of highway so that drivers could travel through safely at 90 km/h instead of having to slow to 60 km/h.

Aside from the installation of some median barriers, no other construction has taken place.

That decade has also seen the average annual daily traffic volume increase from 27,740 to 30,848 vehicles.

Of course, until the budget is found for changes, the simplest way to make this highway safer is for us all to share it unselfishly. If we slow to 60 km/h and stop properly for the red light, chances are good that there will be fewer collisions like this one. 

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/unsafe-driving-practices/we-need-another-sign


Be better than average

My name is Tim and I'm a bad driver.

I don't try to be a bad driver, quite the opposite in fact. I try to do my best when I get behind the wheel. However, being human, I occasionally fail. So do we all.

I hope that sets me apart from drivers who don't know any better, drivers who let their skills slip and drivers who really don't care.

We're about a month into ICBC's newest road safety campaign Know Your Part, Drive Smart. The idea is that everyone has a part to play in navigating traffic safely and you should know what your part is.

Central to the campaign is the Drive S.M.A.R.T. quiz

You are presented with 12 questions on road rules and driver attitude. Any experienced driver who reads carefully, considers the four possible answers and makes their choice should earn total bragging rights. That's 12 questions out of 12 correct.

Would you like to brush up? You can also take a Practice Knowledge test or a Road Sign test. These are a little more comprehensive but again, if you are an experienced driver, you should get them all right.

Since we are all better than average drivers, I'm curious about how much participation the campaign has attracted.

Perhaps the only drivers who might honestly claim that they don't know any better are those that have been driving for a long time and have never bothered to update their skills and knowledge.

This is not an excuse. You must Know Your Part in order to participate safely and correctly rather than expecting others to allow for you.

Some of us neglect our parts through sloppy application of skills or by taking short cuts that we feel are harmless. Don't let that become your default setting.

Failing to stop completely at a stop sign or taking liberties with the speed limit increases everyone's risk. You may be comfortable deciding your acceptable level of risk, but I don't appreciate you taking liberties with mine.

That leaves us with the drivers who I hope make up a small minority, those that don't care or deliberately decide to break the rules. These are the drug-and-alcohol impaired drivers, distracted drivers, prohibited drivers and any driver who decides that any driving rule doesn't apply to them if they don't want it to.

Sometimes the only way to stop them is to put them in a cage.

A related item in the news right now is our insurance rate. ICBC will be raising it 6.4 per cent in the coming year if the increase is approved in order to cope with both rising collision rates and rising claims costs.

Paul Hergott wrote an interesting article suggesting one solution to ICBC's rate hike.

He asks the question "What if an absent-minded driver who crashes into the back of a stopped vehicle had to reach into their pocket and pay the first $5,000 of their victim’s losses?"

Maybe we would pay more attention and avoid crashing into things.

It's not that simple, but it does show that we may feel that the consequences of our errors are covered by our insurance so we don't need to Drive S.M.A.R.T. all the time.

Should bad drivers be shamed publicly? With dash cameras and social media, everyone can publish examples of bad driving that might shame a driver. Shame is a powerful motivator to improve.

Perhaps the simplest way is just to decide to do it on your own.


You could even take lessons with a driving school. Lessons are not just for beginners.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/my-name-tim-and-im-bad-driver

School year begins again

We place a high value on our children and signify that with school and playground zones.

Traffic is required to slow to the lowest speed limit that we normally post and drivers are expected to pay more attention than usual.

Students must get to and from school safely.

Having said that, sometimes the greatest danger in a school zone is presented by parents and teachers.

One sunny morning, I was conducting speed enforcement in an elementary school zone.

Shortly after 8 a.m., I caught my first offender, a teacher from that school. She was less than impressed with being ticketed and said so.

Shortly after the teacher entered the school, the principal came out and approached my police car.

He thanked me for working in the school zone and invited me to return often. By the way, the teacher you ticketed is expecting me to tell you to get lost.

She doesn't need to know what I really said, does she?

When I was the parent picking up and dropping off at the school, I often watched the confusion as the same me-first attitude that I saw on the highways played out in the school parking lot.

Waiting in line or following the lines was something for others to do. It doesn't matter if I'm in the way or the wrong place, I'll only be here for a moment.

The education that our children receive in these circumstances definitely depends on where they are viewing it from.

The lime-yellow pentagon is the standard sign used to mark school zones. What a driver must do depends on the tab, if any, placed below it

If there is no tab at all, the driver should proceed with extra caution at any time of the day or day of the week.

Black on yellow tabs are advisory. You may choose to follow their advice depending on the circumstances that you find at the time.

Black on white tabs are regulatory. You must follow their direction without fail.

Regulatory tabs are in effect on a regular school day. These are days in the school calendar set by the individual school district and include sports days and Pro D days.

The safe bet is to follow them on any day, Monday through Friday, that is not a statutory holiday.

School crosswalks, marked and unmarked are another consideration. They are often controlled by crossing guards and you must obey the guard's direction.

When a guard is not present, it's probably best to expect the unexpected. It doesn't matter if you are a driver or a pedestrian, stop, look, listen, make eye contact and proceed only when safe.

Finally, we'd better have a quick look at the school bus too. You may see flashing red lights, which we should all understand to mean stop and not pass the bus until they are turned off.

You may also see a flashing white light on the rear third of the bus roof. It's job is to help identify the school bus during bad weather or when stationary. The bus driver should use it when the flashing red lights are also turned on.

This concludes our lesson for the day class, do you have any questions? http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/contact 


Your day in traffic court

"I'll see you in court!"

This hollow threat often ended conversations at the roadside after a driver was issued a traffic ticket for a violation. I knew that few of them would carry out their intention and if they did, there would probably be no coherent defence made.

Like many things in life, success often depends on preparation as much as it does on the delivery. Traffic court is one of those occasions.

I wrote the Q&A: How to Deal With a Traffic Ticket to assist in the process starting with being pulled over and ending with the conclusion of the court case. Links at the bottom of the article refer you to other reliable sources of information appropriate for courts in British Columbia.

If you are really serious about defending yourself well, probably the best $25 (plus tax, of course!) and 30 minutes you can spend is by taking advantage of the Canadian Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.

This will help you decide if you want to represent yourself or hire the lawyer to defend you. Should you decide to manage your own defence you will very likely receive valuable advice.

The officer is required to disclose information on the case against you if you request it. Disclosure is essentially a summary of the evidence that the officer intends to present to the court. Should you require specific information, ask for it.

Do this well in advance of the trial and I would suggest that you do so in writing and either mail or deliver it to the officer's workplace.

This step is where people often take advice from the internet to make outlandish requests and become upset when it is refused. The case of R v Wong comes out of a B.C. traffic court and may be considered as a guide to reasonable requests that the presiding judicial justice will support.

Speaking of case law, there is a fairly extensive collection on the DriveSmartBC web site. Searching "case law" and the offence you are interested in may turn up relevant examples of how the courts view a particular situation.

You can also do your own research on the Canadian Legal Information Institute's web site.

The DriveSmartBC Forum contains two sections, Traffic Court and Traffic Tickets that may be of some assistance.

If you feel that your Charter Rights have been violated, most commonly your right to a trial within a reasonable length of time, you cannot do this in traffic court. You must notify the court registry and arrange for a hearing in provincial court instead.

 The judicial justice does not have the authority to preside over these cases.

You can learn a lot through the experience of others. Contact your local court registry and find out when traffic court is being held. It may even be possible to find out if the officer that issued your ticket will testify. Sit in on a morning or afternoon session as a spectator.

On the day of your trial, you will already know what to expect.

This advice is valid until our provincial government replaces the traffic court system with an adjudication process. The progress of that began in 2012 with amendments to legislation and as far as I am aware, we are only now preparing to test e-ticketing in some areas of B.C.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/traffic-tickets/your-day-traffic-court

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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