What caused that crash?

What causes crashes and how do we know?

The Capital Regional District Traffic Safety Commission has proposed time-over-distance-speed cameras in an attempt to reduce serious collisions on the Malahat Highway.

This caused a Twitter discussion whether this is a justifiable solution or not.

On one hand, we have a group that believes the major contributing factor to those crashes is speed. They want to try the speed cameras to see if it will reduce the number of collisions.

On the other hand, you have a group that says show us that speed is a significant contributing factor before we discuss trying a solution.

The provincial government is willing to entertain the idea and has done a road-safety analysis on that section of the Trans Canada Highway.

The last page of that report lists the 12 most common first contributing factor reported by the police and shows that the top three are:

  • driving without due care and attention
  • speed
  • weather.

No numbers are given, just that they form about 35 per cent of total injury and fatality crashes.

I've completed many MV6020 collision reports in my career. I know that the form allowed me to list up to three contributing factors for a collision in descending order of importance.

The choice of these factors by police are based on investigation, experience and opinion. They can also be subjective.

From my experience investigating collisions, both driving without due care and weather most often have a speed component, whether it be speed over the limit or speed relative to conditions.

Many other factors may have a speed component as well. What is recorded primarily as following too closely could be part of an attempt by the offending driver to bulldoze the vehicle in front out of the way so that they can continue their trip at a speed in excess of the limit.

The government removed the requirement to report a collision to police from the Motor Vehicle Act in July 2008. I suspect that this has made determining the cause of minor collisions even less accurate than it was prior to that date.

To some extent, knowing about minor collisions is important in predicting the potential for major collisions.

Major collisions are most often investigated by experienced traffic officers along with collision analysts and reconstructionists. These are well documented and reported.

Serious injury and fatal collision data with speeding involvement numbers should be reliable.

If you want to know where the collisions are occurring, you can visit ICBC's crash maps and select Malahat. You will find that there were 27 casualty and 52 property damage only crashes from 2011 to 2015.

That's a small number perhaps, unless you are one of those numbers or find yourself waiting in traffic for them to be cleared.

For what it's worth, I think that you can reasonably assume that speed is a contributor to crashes on the Malahat from this and that along with the current highway improvements point to point speed cameras could make a positive difference.

We should try.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/what-causes-crashes-how-do-we-know


Police can drive like that

The CFSEU was in the news last week, probably not in the way they would have liked.

You may have seen the dash cam videos from Richmond showing a number of vehicles apparently brazenly running red lights. The story hit the news amid amazed comments about how bad drivers were becoming in the Lower Mainland.

In later days, it was revealed that these were unmarked Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC vehicles doing surveillance on gang targets.

Is it legal for the police to drive like this? The answer is a qualified yes.

When I started policing in 1981, section 122 of the Motor Vehicle Act gave the operators of emergency vehicles the authority to disregard the rules in Part 3. This part contains the rules on speed, stopping and lane use to mention a few examples.

Fire apparatus and ambulances were required to use flashing lights and a siren in all circumstances and the police could use lights and siren, lights alone or no emergency equipment at all depending on the circumstances.

In all cases, due regard for the situation must be continuously considered.

In early 1998, section 122 was amended to require adherence to the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation (EVDR) when disregarding Part 3 requirements. With that change came mandatory training for emergency vehicle drivers before they could exercise these privileges.

The regulation defined in much more detail what could and could not be done along with justification needed to do so. It particularly restricted pursuit by police and loosened response requirements for fire and ambulance.

In all cases, the risk to the public using the highway must be outweighed by the risk of not making an emergency response.

Returning to the story from Richmond, this was not a pursuit as defined in the EVDR. It was a situation covered by section 4(2)(b) instead and is permitted as long as the public was not subject to unwarranted risk.

In the limited view provided by the dash cam videos that were shared, I did not see more than what would cause some surprise and consternation for surrounding traffic. There were no instances shown were civilian drivers had to slam on the brakes or make abrupt moves to avoid a collision.

I am not going to say that there was not a higher than normal risk present for everyone involved. There was, but it appeared to me that care was exercised to minimize it.

In order not to jeopardize the investigation, it may be some time before the reasons for this incident can be shared with the public.

Also, considering the wide publicity given to this incident, I don't doubt that police are actively trying to find a better way to follow their criminal targets.

I can't think of a better way to confirm to the bad guys that they are under investigation than incidents like this.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/emergency-vehicles/it-legal-police-drive

Make the right choices


We just renewed the insurance on our car. It cost us $764 for basic insurance coverage on our 2013 Honda CR-V.

I can hardly wait for next year to see what we will be paying to make up for this year's $935 million ICBC loss.

I usually stay away from politics, but the temptation for me is just too much this time. Our Attorney General has likened actions by the previous Liberal government to a financial dumpster fire.

We can hear him screaming loudly now, but what about way back when this was happening? Isn't the job of the opposition to oppose in real time, not after the fact?

Sober second thought is supposed to prevent the government from making mistakes not shout about what should have been done after it has happened.

Meanwhile, the numbers continue to rise. Today's estimate extrapolated from the five-year average includes:

  • 24 fatalities
  • 5.310 injured
  • 612 hospitalized
  • 27,014 reported collisions.

Part of the problem, perhaps even the majority of it, appears to be that we tend to collide with things when we drive.

One suggested solution put forward is to cap insurance payouts by moving to a no-fault scheme. As always, there are views for and against this.

Your view may simply depend on whether you are the person paying the premiums or the person receiving the benefits.

Having spent a career writing traffic tickets, I feel bound to try to follow the rules faithfully when I drive. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I make mistakes. We all do, even when we try our best. That's just being human.

However, there's a big difference between making mistakes and deliberately doing whatever you please. Keep to the speed limit and you will eventually see something like the video at the top of this column.

These two selfish drivers just couldn't wait, so the rules were something to disregard for their convenience.

Depending on your point of view, they are either someone who deserves a violation ticket and the larger share of paying for insurance costs or someone who is practising civil disobedience because the speed limit has not been set high enough.

We all balance our behaviours based on what we think it's going to cost us in terms of risk. This situation is just one of many examples that occur on our highways with increasing frequency. The police weren't around, complaints fall on deaf ears and nothing bad happened anyway. Why worry?

Perhaps I take this too much to heart. I don't mind paying for vehicle insurance to cover the results of human error. I do mind paying for the deliberate disregard for others.

Does our current insurance scheme make it just too easy for drivers like these to do what they want when they want knowing that if they mess up we'll all share the burden with them?

To some extent, we've made life difficult for drivers who drive while impaired, don't hold a valid driver's licence, participate in races or try to run from law enforcement.

If a crash is the result of their choices, they're insurance doesn't cover them and ICBC takes action to recover what is paid out to others that suffer damages.

Should we extend this to other deliberate unlawful actions? Will the threat of significant financial penalty moderate making the wrong choice for fun or convenience?

Just how do you motivate drivers to try and make the right choices in all circumstances in an effort to reduce insurance costs?

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/make-right-choices


Speeders don't interest ICBC

Odds and Ends From the Inbox

I've been trolling through the DriveSmartBC inbox for inspiration this morning. There are a lot of odds and ends there that deserve to be mentioned.

Thanks to all for these questions and suggestions.

Maureen asks about dimming high beam headlights when you are driving on a divided highway and the centre barrier blocks your headlight beams from oncoming drivers.

The regulations require that you dim your headlights whenever you are within 150 metres of another vehicle until you have passed or overtaken it to prevent the beam from striking or reflecting into the eye of another driver.

If another vehicle is within that radius, dim your headlights.

Rosa is curious about tire blowouts and their frequency as she is not aware of any way to prevent them.

Improper inflation, curb or pothole damage is likely the most common cause of failure for passenger vehicle tires. A good tire pressure gauge is worth having, even if your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure management system (TPMS).

Check regularly to insure that your tire pressure is set to that shown on the tire placard. If you hit a pavement defect and are concerned, have your tire examined by a professional at a tire centre.

Deliane would like pedestrians reminded about how dangerous it is to wear dark clothing when walking at night in bad weather. She also wants to know about crossing mid-block, not in a crosswalk. If the municipality does not prohibit it in a bylaw and your yield to vehicles, jaywalking is not illegal.

Alan wants to be reminded why photo radar was taken off of B.C. roads.

There is enough material to write a book on it, but I'd say that it was one of the planks in the Liberal Party platform that was acted on when Gordon Campbell was elected premier in 2001.

This hot potato continues to be tossed back and forth today, but like any bitter medicine, the patient needs to decide that taking it outweighs the disease. Apparently, we're not there yet.

Syd would like drivers to give their horn a tap when they are backing out of their space in parking lots.

This will warn pedestrians who are not watching for lit backup lights as they approach your vehicle. ICBC says only use the horn when it gives a useful signal to other drivers and helps prevent a crash.

Persephone is honked at when she slows down in construction zones that are posted with regulatory speed signs but no construction is taking place.

Following the rules doesn't always mean that others appreciate your efforts. The signs are in place for a reason as there are hazards present in construction zones even when workers have gone home for the day.

Sandy stops for the stop signs at E&N railway crossings and has twice been passed by drivers who overtook him without stopping themselves.

Even though the chance of meeting a train or other maintenance of way equipment is slim, failing to stop properly is still illegal.

Finally, Irene was surprised to find that ICBC is not interested in hearing about speeders that she wanted to report.

Her local police did not appear to be responding to her husband's requests for more enforcement and she was trying to find another way to have drivers slow down.

ICBC's function is to insure drivers while the police and RoadSafetyBC deal with unsafe drivers.

By the way, RoadSafetyBC is only interested in your unsafe driver report if the driver is medically unfit. They will direct you back to the police for anything else.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/miscellaneous/odds-ends-inbox

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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