In the crosshairs

I never know what is going to wind up in the DriveSmartBC e-mail inbox, but it is bound to be entertaining, interesting, thought provoking or just plain letting off steam at an easy target.

I read them all, try to reply with reason and civility and often use them as the basis for an article.

  • "I can’t wait till autonomous vehicles dominate our roads. Eliminate the human error factor and we might reduce collisions by 99%."

Being about half a decade away from being designated as a senior citizen, I wonder if I will see at time in my driving career where the vehicles on the road are even a 50-50 mix of autonomous and human drivers.

There is no doubt that technology is entering some part of our transportation system regularly. If you are interested, Traffic Technology International and Vision Zero International are two digital magazines that explain the cutting edge of these technologies.

DriveSmartBC is often mistaken for ICBC, particularly with the Drive Smart Refresher test currently being publicized.

  • I hope you would like feedback about your on-line Drive Smart Test. I am a woman aged 69, driving since I turned 16. Things have changed so I thought this test would be a good refresher. Unfortunately, I feel the real challenges were not addressed. I have been giving this some consideration for some time now. A TV campaign similar to what the the Olympics did to teach us about the different sports. Eg. One teaching module a month stick man / car driving situation explained.

It's a pretty good idea and probably easier to create than the old RoadSense Tips videos.

On the other hand I can find myself in the crosshairs:

  • With the greatest of respect, you are a typical Canadian nanny-state cop (ex-cop in your case). Your writing frequently annoys me by waffling on about “excess speeding” when in numerous cases I find the speed limits here in BC ridiculously low. Why don’t the road engineers post the limits at the 85th percentile of traffic speeds? THAT is what people drive at anyway, so why post speeds that people will ignore? This makes a mockery of posted limits, I could go on and on about how the police here often target the wrong people, merely because they are the easiest to catch and ticket, rather than those that make the majority frustrated and angry, which then turns THEM into dangerous drivers as a result.

These two views are probably the most often repeated.

To give this gentleman even more ammunition, I'm going to observe that many people are quite happy to express a viewpoint, but seldom back it up with anything other than emotion. Most have no idea what the police issue tickets for, but perhaps know what they receive tickets for and don't appreciate.

On the bright side, even though I annoy him frequently, he keeps reading....

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/behaviour/crosshairs


Almost is not good enough

Twice in the last few days I have found oncoming drivers encroaching on my lane.

There was no reason for it, such as an obstruction in their lane, that I could see. My conclusion is that they were either unable or too lazy to bother with staying completely between the lines.

In this and other common driving situations, almost is not good enough!

Even when there are no lines painted on the road, you are still required to stay in your own half of the roadway. Almost following sections 150 and 151 of the Motor Vehicle Act carry a ticketed amount of $109 and either two or three points respectively.

Now one has to wonder why failing to yield the left lane to faster traffic would be $167 and three points when it is really only an annoyance rather than a danger. One might expect dangerous violations to cost more and result in more points being assessed, but discussing inconsistencies in our penalties will have to wait for another article.

How often have you seen a driver stop with the front of the vehicle well into the crosswalk at an intersection?

This behaviour can be hard on pedestrians and results in cross traffic having to decide whether to ignore or evade. Almost stopping before the crosswalk or marked stop line violates section 186 MVA and costs $167 and three points.

While we're on the subject of stopping, what about the drivers who choose the wrong pedal when the traffic light turns yellow? Almost stopping for a red light is contrary to section 129 MVA. The ticketed amount is $167, but there are only two penalty points.

Almost following the speed limit? The rare slow driver is vastly outnumbered by those who are over it and by significant amounts. Need I say more?

Turning at intersections requires that you approach in the proper lane, follow the correct path through the intersection and complete the turn in the appropriate lane. Almost doing this properly is dealt with by a $109 traffic ticket under section 165 MVA and three points.

A defensive driver always gives an adequate signal before starting, changing lanes or turning, even if the law does not require it. Almost telling others what you are going to do may contravene sections 151 ($109), 169 ($121) or 170 ($121) MVA.

All are two-point offences.

According to the results of the Drive Smart Refresher test, many experienced drivers do not know what a safe following distance is and that it changes for variations in road conditions. Almost leaving enough room is covered by section 162 MVA and costs $109 and three points.

Do you almost think about other road users when you drive? Is it acceptable when others almost think about you?

Please, repeat after me, almost is not good enough.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/skills/almost-not-good-enough

Can you pass a driver's test?

Testing a driver's knowledge at licence renewal

What would happen if you had to pass the ICBC Drive Smart Refresher test before you renewed your driver's licence?

More daunting still, what if you had to pass the same test that Learner Drivers have to in order to obtain their licence for the first time?

Or, horror of horrors, what if you were actually considered to be an experienced driver who knows much more than the basics and the test was actually made to be challenging?

I suspect that some drivers would have to be issued a 90-day interim licence in order to study and try to pass again.

Yes, ICBC makes the Learn to Drive Smart and the Tuning Up Guide available on line for free to anyone interested in making sure that their skills are sharp or remind themselves about something that has become a bit hazy over time.

Should they have to go one step further and publish a series of advanced guides for self study?

I've often heard the opinion expressed that drivers should be made to pass an in-car test before renewing their licence.

Driver examiners that I have discussed this with did not think it would be effective. The driver would simply drive properly, pass the test and then go right back to all the bad driving habits that they were comfortable with.

I know from my experience running the DriveSmartBC web site that there are long time drivers who are a bit hazy on the basics.

An example from last week's correspondence was the difference between regulatory and advisory road signs. That person was surprised to find that the drivers she was unhappy with in her neighbourhood did not always have to slow to 30 km/h for a curve warning sign.

The Drive Smart Refresher will help drivers like these as long as they don't make the mistake in thinking that the random 20 questions that they answer if they take the test only once will be sufficient to confirm that they know what they should.

Oddly enough, Drive Smart does not equal Drive Safe. A study by Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Australia titled The Effectiveness of Driver Training as a Road Safety Measure reports the following:

Promoting driver training as a means of improving driving skills and knowledge assumes that there are deficiencies in the skills or knowledge of drivers, and that these can be improved via training.

It also assumes that these skill deficiencies increase the risk of crash involvement. These assumptions are largely false and based on beliefs not supported by research evidence.

What may be successful includes these steps:

  • establish a baseline
  • monitor driving behaviour
  • start with those needing the most help
  • identify their poor driving behaviours,
  • coach those drivers and finally recognize their improvement.

Do we have the stomach to do this or are we willing to be content with just under 1,000 crashes per day in our province?

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/testing-drivers-knowledge-licence-renewal


Turn those hazards on

What do you have stored in your vehicle to protect yourself and other road users in the event of a breakdown or collision?

Most of us will probably reply that they don't have anything prepared for this eventuality.

In fact, with the reliability of vehicles today and perhaps not having been involved in a significant collision before, we may be lulled into thinking that we don't really need it.

Cole Notter may have felt this way.

He's the subject of a court case where he was involved in a single vehicle collision and left his black Kia sitting across one lane of highway 1 east of Chilliwack, at night, with no lights on and did nothing to protect others.

Others stopped to offer assistance, parking on the opposite side of the road with their hazard flashers on.

Edward Godbout approached the scene driving a loaded tractor trailer unit. Thinking that the hazard involved the vehicle with the hazard flashers on, Mr. Godbout changed lanes away from it. He failed to see the Kia in time and was unable to avoid a collision.

That collision left Mr. Godbout's truck and trailer lying on it's side in the median and the load of scrap metal strewn across the westbound lanes.

Subsequently, he claimed an injury to his left arm and shoulder, neck and back. He also experiences headaches. Most significantly, he claims to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, vertigo, decreased sex drive and vision problems arising as a result of his injuries.

Mr. Justice Jenkins found Notter to be 100 per cent liable for the collision involving Godbout because he had done nothing to warn others of the hazard that he had created. The settlement amounted to almost $600,000.

In my experience, it is not uncommon to attend a collision at night and find the disabled vehicle sitting in the darkness without any lights on and the vehicle's lighting system still capable of being used.

Even if you are on the shoulder of the highway, it is wise to use your hazard flashers or leave your parking lights on at night.

A set of breakdown warnings is not a significant expense. With a little bit of thought, you can equip yourself fairly well for less than the cost of an oil change.

If you ever need to use your breakdown warnings, a bit of thought is in order for their deployment.

The higher the speed, the further away the first warning should be placed from the scene.

Remember that drivers need to see the warning, decide that they need to do something and then do it, all before they arrive at the difficulty.

Our freeways may be posted at 120 km/h or just over 33 m/s. Four seconds for perception and reaction is not out of the question and means that more than 120 metres has been traveled before the driver applies the brakes.

If it's slippery, the braking distance could be significant too.

Hills, curves and multiple lanes may require extra warnings so I would suggest that a minimum of three devices would be wise to have.

You may never need to use breakdown warnings to protect yourself or others but this case is a great example of what a bit of thought and a few dollars in safety equipment could save.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/case-law/warning-others-breakdown

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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