Making the right stop

Oceanside Community Safety is a group of volunteers that want to make a difference. Their Traffic Watch program is an expansion of Speedwatch that now includes Cell Watch and Intersection Watch.

Intersection Watch volunteers observe drivers at an intersection to check compliance with traffic laws and remind drivers of their obligations.

The data collected is shared with the RCMP, ICBC and the public.

Their first public report describes the observation of six intersections and 1,923 vehicles in both urban and rural settings. 321 drivers executed either a rolling stop or no stop at all.

I strongly suspect that they are being very generous in their evaluation of a proper stop.

The dictionary calls stopping a cessation of movement or operation. Using this as a yardstick, one high school psychology class in Oliver watched intersections in that town during lunch hour.

They found that drivers who met this criteria could be counted on both hands as the vast majority did not.

Rather than report no stop and rolling stop, which are effectively the same thing, it might be more appropriate to report no stop and stopping in an improper position.

One of the modules that I use in my Elder College course Road Safety for Seniors is titled "Are You Smarter Than a New Driver?"

It's a collection of multiple choice questions similar to what a new driver would be required to answer in order to obtain their learner driver's licence.

One question shows a car facing a stop sign stopped at an angle across the marked crosswalk and asks why this driver has made the wrong decision.

The most popular incorrect response is because the driver did not stop at the stop sign. Even though they have been driving for a very long time, some students are surprised to find out that the position of the stop sign has nothing to do with where you must stop.

The sign only tells you what you must do.

Where to stop is determined by what you find at the intersection. If there is a stop line, you must stop before you cross it. If there is only a marked crosswalk, you must stop before crossing the edge.

When there are no markings, you must stop before you encroach on the path of cross traffic.

When drivers do stop, they tend to stop where they can see cross traffic rather than where they are supposed to.

This does make it easier for them to continue, but can have serious consequences for cyclists and pedestrians if the driver is only paying attention to vehicular traffic.

It also presents a difficulty for defensive drivers approaching the intersection with the careless driver on their right.

Will the driver stop or not? Do I continue or should I take evasive action?

A stop in the proper place makes this decision easier for cross traffic of all sorts.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/intersections/intersection-watch

Pay attention this month

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

It may be something that you are actually aware of or it may just be another buzz in the background of your life, but March is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in British Columbia.

ICBC does the majority of the publicity, the police adjust their enforcement focus and drivers muddle along thinking that they are doing just fine until there is a knock on the side window and they're issued a ticket imposing a fine of $368 and four penalty points.

You might be excused for thinking that distracted driving only applies to cell phone use. Unless you fully explore the links on ICBC's Distracted Driving web page you might not discover that the rules do extend to other electronic devices as well.

"Electronic device" means:

  • (a) a hand-held cellular telephone or another hand-held electronic device that includes a telephone function,
  • (b) a hand-held electronic device that is capable of transmitting or receiving electronic mail or other text-based messages, or
  • c) a prescribed class or type of electronic device

Currently, the "prescribed class or type" mentioned in (c) above is found in the Use of Electronic Devices While Driving Regulation. 

The following electronic devices are prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (c) of the definition of "electronic device" in section 214.1 of the Act:

  • (a) electronic devices that include a hands-free telephone function;
  • (b) global positioning systems;
  • (c) hand-held electronic devices, one of the purposes of which is to process or compute data;
  • (d) hand-held audio players;
  • (e) hand microphones;
  • (f) televisions.

(2) In subsection (1), "hand microphone" means a communication device consisting of a hand-held unit that

  • (a) is both receiver and microphone,
  • (b) is operated by a push and hold-to-talk function, and (c) allows for oral communication, but not for the transmission and receipt of oral communication at the same time.

You may also be unaware that using an electronic device could be something other than holding a conversation or sending a text.

 "Use", in relation to an electronic device, means one or more of the following actions:

  • (a) holding the device in a position in which it may be used;
  • (b) operating one or more of the device's functions;
  • (c) communicating orally by means of the device with another person or another device;
  • (d) taking another action that is set out in the regulations by means of, with or in relation to an electronic device.

The "other action" mentioned in (d) above is also found in the Use of Electronic Devices While Driving Regulation.  

"Use" further defined:

  • A person who watches the screen of an electronic device uses the device for the purposes of paragraph (d) of the definition of "use" in section 214.1 of the Act.

RoadSafetyBC offers a quick reference to explain what types of electronic devices a driver is permitted to use and how they must be used.

Two points of particular importance made in that quick reference are that drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) must not use any type of electronic device at all and that when device use is permitted, the device must be properly secured.

Simply setting the GPS navigation on your cell phone and putting it in the cup holder will land you in trouble.

So, #EyesFwdBC!

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/distracted-driving/distracted-driving-awareness-month

Parking lot showdown

Asking for people to send me their thoughts at the end of last week's article resulted in one of the largest responses I've ever received.

Ultimately, the overwhelming choice of advice was to report the offending driver to ICBC and the police.

Fewer people were willing to shrug their shoulders and carry on with life while two offered emotional support.

I was also advised on how dishonest people might seek to profit from the situation. This was not something that I had considered myself.

Had this person been polite and apologetic at the outset, I would have probably shrugged my shoulders and carried on with life.

A bit of scuffed paint on an older pickup really wasn't a big deal. After all, it's not like I haven't backed into something in my driving history either.

However, given my experience in traffic-law enforcement and the circumstances I found myself in, I was concerned that this woman may no longer be a safe driver. RoadSafetyBC says that we are outliving our ability to drive safely by about 10 years.

RoadSafetyBC does accept unsolicited driver fitness reports, but you must be able to identify the driver. They are unhelpful in any other circumstances and will only repeat that you must report to police instead.

After some thought, I gathered my dash cam footage along with the witness information and reported to ICBC, my own damage insurance company and the police.

You should report any collision to your insurance company, regardless of the amount of damage.

Depending on the terms of your contract of insurance, you could be denied coverage at a later date if you fail to report promptly.

ICBC and my other insurance company resolved the claim quickly, finding the other driver liable for the collision.

A quick trip to the recommended body shop found no hidden damage and I advised them to close the claim. No repairs would be required.

Contrary to my expectations, the police were willing to take my complaint that the other driver had refused to provide required information post collision.

I was contacted by a constable who discussed the situation with me as a peer. He agreed to interview the other driver and request a driver re-exam from RoadSafetyBC if he felt that it was appropriate instead of issuing a violation ticket.

When I followed up on my complaint, he advised me that the request to RoadSafetyBC had been made.

Reporting can also help in the case of malicious and criminal intent. I received stories from people who had been convinced not to report and later on had the other driver either renege on a promise to pay or reported themselves as victims.

Some of these people even paid their deductible and accepted some liability rather than argue.

Offending drivers have also been known to convince victims not to report and then made a fictitious hit-and-run complaint to get their vehicles repaired for the cost of the deductible.

I may not have felt entirely happy about it, but in retrospect I think that making the reports was the wise thing to do.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/things-go-bump-parking-lot-part-2


Going bump in a parking lot

This is a short story about things that go bump in the parking lot.

The outcome could have been a lot simpler with a bit of courtesy and the sharing of required information, but it didn't happen that way.

I wonder what the ultimate cost will be when all is said and done.

I was waiting to turn left from the main access into a parking aisle at the mall along with a car opposing me and traffic behind me. There was a vehicle further along the aisle backing out, so we all waited.

When the vehicle had backed out, we all began to enter the aisle in turn until the car in front of me stopped.

The driver began to back up and when it was clear that a collision with me was imminent I sounded my vehicle's horn.

The car stopped, pulled ahead and began to back up again. This time sounding the horn did not help and a small collision occurred.

We moved out of the way and I got out and approached the other driver, a woman that I estimate was in her early 80s.

Her first words to me were "Why didn't you get out of my way?"

If the other traffic had not been stopped behind me, I certainly would have tried to.

Her next piece of advice was that:
"Trucks should not be in this parking lot anyway, they belong out there in the back 40" and gestured to the far edge of the lot.

I asked her to exchange information with me and she refused. She refused again after I tried to explain that we were required to do this.

I was beginning to become concerned about this reluctance and while I considered what to do next three people approached me to state that they had watched the incident occur and offered to provide their contact information.

This was a very personal reminder that people willing to help are all around us.

Thank you very much!

At this point the woman decided that she should examine my truck for damage. As we walked to it, she remarked that I looked like a cop. I told her that I used to be one and was surprised when she responded with:

"It figures. You've got nothing better to do than cause trouble for others."

I took my cell phone out and photographed her, then went back to her car and photographed it.

She came back, got into her car and departed.

Now what to do?

The damage to my truck amounted to a scuff on the bumper and I would have been prepared to shrug it off had she identified herself and appeared apologetic.

Maybe she was:

  • embarrassed
  • just a miserable person
  • wanted to avoid losing a safe driving discount.

Worse still, maybe she didn't have a driver's licence or had reached the end of her ability to drive safely.

The decision about whether to do anything was left up to me, along with the worry that she might try to report this as my fault.

What would you do in this situation? Send me your thoughts and I'll finish this tale in next week's article.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/things-go-bump-parking-lot

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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