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Behind-the-Wheel

Meeting Goliath on highway

Reporting commercial transport traffic violations

Most car drivers feel like David when they have an uncomfortable encounter with a Goliath-type commercial vehicle.

"I would really like to see the article written about what to do when we see a commercial transport vehicle that is driving in an unsafe manner,” a commuter wrote. “You gave us a phone number to call that specifically relates to tractor trailers, and who to call when we witness a driving infraction.

“I see it on a regular basis and most of the times the trucks are unmarked."

I understand what this person feels as I had an encounter with a tractor pulling a van trailer at the south end of the Nanaimo Bypass last Friday afternoon.

I was in the right lane keeping to the speed limit and was followed at a frighteningly close distance. Why the driver felt comfortable with this or did not pass me, I cannot understand.

After I changed to the left lane, the truck passed me and I could read the company name, TRANSport, off of the driver's door.

Unfortunately, that's all I was able to read as I had to pay attention to where I was going.

Recording the trailer licence plate might help, but it frequently belongs to another company or is leased, leaving no simple trail back to the commercial driver.

Depending on how threatened you feel by the encounter, you have a number of options ranging from calling 911 to shrugging your shoulders and carrying on.

Obviously, a continuing danger should be reported immediately by calling 911 and providing as much information as possible.

If this is not the case, there are other options to initiate enforcement action. I've outlined the process of reporting bad drivers to police in the article Q&A — Making a Driving Complaint to Police.

You may also report commercial vehicle safety violations to Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) by telephone: 1-888-775-8785. CVSE personnel are provincial police officers charged specifically with commercial vehicle traffic enforcement.

To be effective, you will have to be ready to act as a witness in court to support charges against the driver.

In cases where you are unwilling to do this, the information is passed on to the driver or company for action as they see fit.

Repetitive complaints without charges do not result in any public sanctions being taken to halt the improper behaviour.

The trucking community shares your concern. Most drivers don't want to be labelled as dangerous because of the actions of a few. They also point out that most collisions between heavy trucks and light vehicles are the fault of the light vehicle driver.

This is difficult to corroborate in B.C. as ICBC does not publish determination of fault in their annual collision statistics report.

Reputable companies share your concerns and will act on valid complaints themselves. If you choose not to report to law enforcement, you can search the company name and provide the circumstances to them.

If your internet search is not successful, the BC Trucking Association's web site and local weigh scales can be a good source of knowledge.

Heavy trucks intimidate other traffic through sheer size. I wonder if we tolerate identical behaviour from drivers of smaller vehicles because we see it more often and don't feel as threatened by it.

Food for thought...

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/commercial-vehicles/reporting-commercial-transport-traffic-violations



150225


Producing your licence

"I've got 24 hours to produce it, don't I?" and "It doesn't matter, I know my licence number."

Those had to be the two most common responses I received when I stopped someone who wasn't carrying their driver's licence.

Yes, you may know the number, but if my experience is any indication, most of you don't know a lot of the other details such as:

  • class
  • expiry date
  • restrictions
  • your security keyword.

"So what?" you say, "You can look it up."

Yes, I was able look it up if the system was working, but how could I be sure that it was really you, especially since the police don't have access to driver's licence pictures on the computers in their cars.

Add the fact that your friends may have a similar physical description and may also know your licence number and it begins to really get interesting.

Occasionally, your "friend" would try to convince me that they were you when I had my pen poised over my ticket book.

Often, they were unlicensed, prohibited from driving or would be if they were convicted of the offence I was preparing to write.

Why not avoid the whole mess and impersonate you? I wouldn't know I was issuing the ticket to the wrong person.

The courts have held that it is permissible to take a photo as a part of police notes when investigating an incident. I took advantage of this whenever a driver did not produce their licence.

I would ask them to step to the back of their vehicle, stand to the side of the licence plate and take a shot of them, the vehicle and the plate.

If the driver was reluctant to have their photo taken, this was a sign to me that chances were very good that they were not who they said they were.

I would take extra care to make sure that I satisfied myself that I was dealing with the right person.

Usually, the first time you found out about a successful deception was when you tried to renew your driver's licence.

The agent at the Driver Service Centre gave you two options:

  • pay for all these tickets you had ever received and renew
  • refuse to pay and don't renew.

Not renewing meant that you couldn't legally drive until the whole matter was resolved and that often took a month or more.

It is also possible that if the person masquerading as you accumulates a large number of tickets, you could find yourself being prohibited from driving.

This could occur either by receiving notice in the mail from RoadSafetyBC or at the roadside if you are stopped by the police.

Today, you can easily keep track of suspicious entries on your driving history. ICBC provides your driving record on line where you can check for driving convictions that are not yours prior to renewal.

In British Columbia, when the police demand your driver's licence you are legally obligated to immediately hand it over and allow the officer to take it in hand.

If requested, you are also required to verbally state your name and current residential address.

Doing so will avoid a failing to produce charge and likely significantly reduce the time that you are stopped at the roadside.

Carrying your driver's licence could provide valuable information for rescue and medical personnel if you are involved in a collision and are unable to communicate.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/producing-your-drivers-licence



Skid marks tell a story

Tire marks left on the pavement at a collision scene tell the investigator many things about the events involved in a motor-vehicle collision.

One common example involves using the length of the mark to calculate pre-collision speed. It was often an interesting exercise that could either verify or call into question information given by witnesses and drivers.

Following my training course, the first opportunity I had to try this out involved an intersection collision. A driver had turned left in front of a taxi. The taxi driver had slammed on the brakes, but was unable to avoid hitting the left-turning vehicle.

The taxi driver assured me that he had been travelling at the speed limit pre-crash.

I got out my calculator and measuring tape. The calculated speed was over the speed limit and, as there was a crash, some of the speed of the taxi did not contribute to the length of the skid marks.

When I told the taxi driver what I had just done and asked again how fast he was going, he hung his head and said that it was a bit over the limit.

Even more interesting was the opportunity to teach it to a class of physics students at a Qualicum Beach high school.

My supervisor and I started the class by deriving the slide-to-stop formula from the basic equations the students were learning.

Simply put, the speed of the vehicle is equal to 15.9 times the square root of the skid distance multiplied by the co-efficient of friction for the road surface.

This applies to a level surface and will work for both ABS and non-ABS braking systems.

Next, we went to the parking lot where I readied the shot marker on my police vehicle and had one student sit in the passenger seat to verify the speed by watching the radar display.

After reaching 50 km/h, I braked to create the skid and the shot marker fired a piece of blackboard chalk onto the ground when the brakes were applied. By measuring the distance from the chalk mark to the shot marker at the other end, the exact skid distance was known.

The shot marker is important for accurate distance measurement as the tires take a bit of time to generate enough heat between themselves and the pavement to leave a mark.

Some braking is done before the beginning of the visible skid mark, so these speed calculations always underestimate the initial speed slightly.

My supervisor led the others through the use of a drag sled, which is essentially a section of tire weighted with lead or concrete inside.

Weighing it and then measuring the force required to slide it over the pavement allowed the students to calculate the co-efficient of friction for the road surface.

Back in the classroom, we used the formula, the skid distance and the co-efficient of friction to calculate the police vehicle's initial speed when the brakes were applied. The answer was exactly the speed shown on the radar.

While real world collisions are often much more complicated, this was a great opportunity to show the students an application of what they were studying in a manner that they had not considered.

This is the process that was used to teach that section of my collision investigation course and one that is repeated time and again with varying circumstances on testing days.

Testing days allow the investigator to gain experience with known data and satisfy the courts of the accuracy of speed calculations undertaken.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/police/speed-skidmarks



150438


Get the light out of my eyes

Glaring fog lights

One of the most common complaints I hear that is not about a moving violation concerns the use or misuse of lights on vehicles.

Here is one of them:

  • "What is really starting to annoy myself and many others is people driving with their fog lights on during clear nights or even during the day. Is this not an infraction? These lamps are often unreasonably bright."

I agree with this reader. I also find many fog lamps unreasonably bright, even during the daytime. What's to be done about it?

The following information may help you to use these lights effectively and avoid causing problems for others.

First, let's be sure we are all on the same page. Fog lamps are identified by the SAE F marking on the lens, or a B above the circle with the E in it on European lamps. In B.C. you are allowed two fog lamps that emit either white or amber light.

They must be mounted on the front of the vehicle, below the headlamps, but not more than 30 cm below. When you switch them on, the parking lamps, tail lamps, licence plate lamp and, if required, clearance lamps must also illuminate.

Fog lamps may be used in place of headlamps if atmospheric conditions make the use of headlamps disadvantageous. Otherwise, fog lamps may be used at any time of the day or night and, in fact, are used as the daytime running lamps on some vehicles.

Vehicle lighting at the time of a vehicle's manufacture is regulated by Transport Canada. Specifically, Technical Standards Document 108, which details construction, performance and location of lamps and reflectors.

Here in British Columbia, lighting use and maintenance is regulated in Division 4 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations.

Essentially, it requires that the lights and reflectors that a vehicle was manufactured with must still be there and function as originally intended. Dimming of headlights and the times that vehicle lights must be used are also set out here.

I suspect that the unreasonable brightness comes from improper aim. Fog lamps must be adjusted and aimed so that, at a distance of eight metres from the lamp, the centre of the beam is at least 10 centimetres below the height of the fog lamp.

Oddly enough, there is no tolerance specified as too low, but anything higher than horizontal is too high.

There are other reasons that could contribute to problems. The use of LED replacement bulbs in housings designed for filament bulbs is one of them, along with using higher wattage filament bulbs than is intended.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure publishes an inspection and approval protocol for vehicle lighting to help inspection facilities decide what to pass.

It is a good guide to follow if you are considering making modifications to your vehicle's lighting system.

Scott Marshall from Young Drivers of Canada has some good tips on using your vehicle's lights and fog lights when the weather is bad in this video: https://youtu.be/vg9FDZxERgs

Toyota adds this video about using rear fog lights: https://youtu.be/SnNDNnVFCFQ

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/glaring-fog-lamps



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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