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Behind-the-Wheel

Turning right in Sechelt

This all started with a simple question in my e-mail: "Are right-turn lanes allowed at four-way stop intersections?"

The story evolved as I asked questions to try to understand the situation before answering here. It turns out to involve the intersection of Trail Avenue and Cowrie Street in Sechelt.

As you can see from this Google Street View taken in 2011 (above), the municipality has marked Trail Avenue with turning lanes at Cowrie Street:

"A few years back" the municipality removed the markings for the right turn lane on the north side of the intersection. Apparently this bothered a citizen so much that they repainted the line and arrow themselves under the cover of darkness one night.

The municipality responded by painting them over again with something similar to driveway sealer.

My correspondent was concerned that without the lane markings, it became a bit of a free for all at the intersection. It was wide enough for two vehicles and no one was about to wait their turn. This was a hazard.

I contacted the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to ask about the lane marking situation. The response was that the intersection was not their responsibility, but marking turn lanes here was contrary to accepted design practices because of the configuration.

He added that in this situation, there was only one lane there so legally there cannot be two cars side by side at the stop sign.

The engineer is correct, passing on the right is forbidden in this circumstance but that does not stop many drivers. A bulb out would be much more effective as it leaves drivers with no choice.

It also increases pedestrian safety by reducing the length of the crosswalk and exposure to traffic.

ICBC's Crash Map for this intersection shows 12 collisions between 2013 and 2017, three of which resulted in a casualty of some sort.

This leaves my correspondent to wonder about the turn lanes marked on the other side of the intersection, but that's a story for another day.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/intersections/turning-right-sechelt​



140018


Watch the 4 corners

Where Are the Corners of Your Vehicle?

The RCMP's advanced driver training course was without a doubt the most fun of any course many of the participants had taken in their service.

We used an inactive runway at the Boundary Bay airport in Delta and a collection of well used Crown Victoria police interceptors to polish our driving skills.

Contrary to what you might think, this was not a high-speed driving situation as we never got going faster than about 65 km/h.

What the majority of the course taught us was to be aware of the location of all four corners of our vehicles in relation to everything around us on the track.

From stall parking, backing through a slalom to the collection of curves, straights and sharp angles of the circuit, the object was to never touch one of the traffic cones that marked the edges and obstacles.

Knock one over and you could lose so many points that your score would not be enough to pass.

In the circuit, we were expected to drive as fast as we were able to in addition to leaving all the cones alone. We also learned that if you spun your tires after receiving the "go" signal, you lost valuable time.

The road that leads to my home is a winding one and there are two sets of reversing curves where I seem to be meeting more drivers on the wrong side of the double solid centre line lately.

The worn condition of the center and shoulder lines at these corners indicate that this occurs frequently.

Much to my surprise, our provincial driving manuals don't have a lot to say about maintaining your lane position. The one piece of advice that I could find says:

The first thing you may notice as you begin driving in moderate traffic is that you have to stay in the centre of your lane. To start with, this is no easy task.

The magic rule: look the way you want to go. If you keep looking 12 seconds ahead down the centre of the lane, your peripheral vision will help you centre yourself.

They do have more to say about another spot where lane discipline commonly breaks down, turning at intersections. Drivers are cautioned not to cut the corner or swing wide on turns.

The last bad habit to mention is driving with the right side tires to the right of the single solid line. In other words, driving on the shoulder  

.Along with all of the other behaviours mentioned, this is illegal.

One might think that if there are no lines painted on the road, it is not necessary to maintain proper lane position.

This is not true either. A driver in this situation must still judge where the center of the road is and travel in the right hand half  

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/lanes/where-are-corners-your-vehicle



Distracted driving kills

@KostelecPlan asked a couple of good questions on Twitter. He wanted to know what the distracted driving laws in BC are and would I share my thoughts on media outlets using video footage submitted by distracted drivers in their news stories.

The video he shared with his questions showed the view out the drivers window of a moving vehicle showing a bear walking along the top of the concrete barrier at the side of the highway in Radium.

Distracted means having one's thoughts or attention drawn away or unable to concentrate or give attention to something. In relation to driving, it is anything that takes the driver's attention away from the task of operating their vehicle properly.

his could include:

  • talking
  • eating
  • shaving
  • applying makeup
  • operating vehicle controls.

Many people find nothing wrong with performing some or all of these tasks while driving. They've done it again and again and nothing bad has ever happened. In a sense, it's become their default setting and they no longer consider it out of the norm.

On the other side of the coin, I've investigated a fatal collision where a driver who was adjusting his CD music drifted to the right and struck a vehicle parked at the side of the highway. The driver of the parked vehicle was killed.

When I started policing, the response to distracted driving came after the distraction had caused the driver to do something wrong. Violation tickets would be issued for failing to keep right, running a red light or speeding, basic errors caused by inattention.

If a collision was caused by distraction, there was driving without due care and attention or driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway to consider.

hen I started policing, these offences under section 144 MVA meant a mandatory court appearance but today they may be dealt with by traffic ticket as well.

Our provincial government has reacted to the proliferation of electronic devices in our vehicles that have proven to be distracting by creating laws that deal with them proactively. A driver no longer has to make an error in order to be charged, simply using an electronic device while driving is now an offence.

I don't have a strong view one way or the other about media sharing video such as this one as long as they have not paid the creator to use it. The media shares other things more offensive to me on a daily basis.

As long as we realize the act shown is unacceptable and don't get the idea that it would be a good idea to do it ourselves, that's enough.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/distracted-driving/distracted-driving-laws-bc



138349


Clean those surge brakes

Spring has sprung and trailers that have slumbered through the winter are being dragged out of storage and dusted off for use.

  • Check the air in the tires.
  • Light up the lights.

Yes, we're good to go for another season.

Experience has taught me that "spring cleaning" seldom includes the trailer's surge brake. When I was an RCMP officer, I would set up at a brake check and start waving in anything pulling a utility or boat trailer for inspection.

It did not take long before I found a trailer with serious problems or even no functioning brakes at all.

The first sign of trouble was the breakaway brake cable. This was often frayed, broken or missing.

This is not optional equipment. If it isn't in good condition and long enough to attach to the tow vehicle the trailer must not carry a load that requires brakes.

Next, I would hand my adjustable wrench to the driver and ask them to remove the cap on the master cylinder for me. The amount of force employed was a good indication of whether the brake fluid level was checked before this voyage began.

Occasionally, the driver destroyed the cap trying to remove it.

Brake fluid is a clear pale, yellow liquid that must fill at least half of the reservoir. Ideally, the level should be about 3/8" or 9 mm below full.

If it's rust coloured or not there at all, again, the trailer must not carry a load that requires brakes.

If the breakaway brake cable and brake fluid quality and amount looked serviceable, the final check was to ask the driver to apply the breakaway brake and try to roll ahead.

Of course, the trailer should resist being moved.

Where the actuator roller is visible, it should not travel more than an inch or 2.5 cm when the breakaway brake is applied.

If it does, this is a sign that the brakes are out of adjustment.

One surge brake owner's manual that I read suggested a field test of the system before the trailer is connected to the tow vehicle.

The trailer is parked on level ground and the safety chains are attached to each other in a loop under the hitch.

A length of 2x4 lumber or other suitable prying tool is inserted into the chain loop and used to lever against the front of the coupler.

The coupler should move to the rear and apply the brake. This will prevent the trailer from rolling away from you as you continue to push.

Choosing to tow a load that requires trailer brakes when the brakes don't work is inviting disaster and police will likely treat it as such.

The trailer could be towed or removed from the highway until the load is reduced or repairs are completed.

Fines and inspection orders are also an almost certainty.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/spring-cleaning-surge-brakes

Image Link: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/sites/default/files/images/brake%20test.jpg



More Behind the Wheel articles

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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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