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Behind-the-Wheel

Is it safe to open your door?

Imagine the surprise of the motorist at a collision I once investigated.

He parked at the side of the road, opened his door, and a passing car tried to tear it off. It's a good thing he didn't step out while he opened the door.

What went wrong here?

The motorist didn't look first, or didn't see what was overtaking him. He probably felt safe in the fact that he had stopped close to the curb and was out of harm's way.

In the case of a driver or front-seat passenger, there is a mirror present to help see if anything is overtaking the vehicle before you open the door.

A quick shoulder check is also a good preventative measure to turn into a habit.

For back-seat passengers, the rear roof pillar and lack of a mirror can make this task almost impossible.

The Dutch Reach is the best solution for all vehicle occupants use. Open the door with the hand that is on the opposite side of your body from it.

This forces your body to rotate toward the door and allows you to look backward through the gap before the door opens very far. If something is there, hopefully there is enough room to avoid a crash.

Today's highways are no longer designed so that traffic is always on the left side of a parked vehicle. Be cautious of cycle lanes that may be on the right side of parking areas.

Failing to look or see when you open your door poses a significant threat to cyclists often referred to as dooring or being doored.

 They must use the right hand edge of the roadway and are difficult to see because of their size. The cyclist that slams into an opening car door can be seriously injured.

Cycle lanes designed without a buffer do not eliminate the hazard.

Opening a door from the outside can be a problem as well. It is not uncommon to see a driver walk up to their vehicle and open the door to enter without giving any thought to overtaking traffic.

Passing vehicles may be forced to move to the left or stop in order to avoid a collision.

Section 203 of the Motor Vehicle Act forbids opening the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so.

Once a door on that side is open, it must not be left open for longer than is required to load or unload passengers.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/collisions/it-safe-open-your-door



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Crosswalk chaos

Someone needs a timeout for their approach to school crosswalk safety

I pick up my grand daughters one afternoon a week at their rural elementary school.

The kindergarten classes march out in line and wait patiently while their teacher identifies each child's caregiver and dismisses them individually.

They now join the free for all to walk to the vehicles parked in the area and go home.

I try to show up at least 10 minutes before the dismissal bell so I have time to park properly and walk to the spot where I wait for the girls. Of course, given my background in traffic policing, I find myself noticing the bad behaviour of some drivers during this short jaunt.

What bothers me most is the disregard for the marked crosswalks leading into the schoolyard. Vehicles park on both sides of the road, bumpers to the edge of the paint. Some drivers even take advantage of the open space and park right on top of it.

Two weeks ago, I was walking by at the same time as a woman parked on the crosswalk and exited her car. I could not resist and observed that she knew she was not supposed to park like there, right?

She just looked at me and kept walking.

Road maintenance has deteriorated here, too. In the 2012 Google Street View of these crosswalks, they are both painted and signs indicating their presence are posted.

Today, the signs are no longer present and the closest crosswalk in the picture has been left to deteriorate while the far one has been repainted.

There are two documents that the provincial government uses to uniformly mark school crosswalks, the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings and the Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual for BC.

Both mandate the use of the School Crosswalk marking signs but are contradictory of the need for a No Passing tab on the School Zone signs.

The Motor Vehicle Act tells drivers that they must not park on top of or within six metres of the approach side of a crosswalk.

Confusion may exist about the painted crosswalk that has been left to deteriorate on it's own. Does a driver ignore it? Should a pedestrian use it? It’s there, marked or not, but faded paint may suggest to drivers that it's not meant to be there.

Perhaps the Ministry and some drivers need a time out for their approach to safety at these school crosswalks.

What I do admire are the drivers who proceed slowly and carefully through all of this.

They stop and wait patiently at the newer of the two crosswalks and no doubt anticipate that short children are going to appear suddenly from in front of the vehicles obstructing the crosswalk.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/parking/someone-needs-timeout-their-approach-school-crosswalk-safety



Trouble after buying vehicle

This inquiry arrived in the DriveSmartBC inbox last Thursday:

"I bought a used newer truck from a dealership and was told prior to signing the final documents that the truck had gone through a full safety inspection. Less than two weeks later, I was pulled over and issued a ticket for improperly equipped motor vehicle and issued a box 2 inspection order for my 2017 Dodge Ram 3500."

The person goes on to say that the notice order is vague. He was not sure what to do next, but made an appointment for an inspection at the dealership where he purchased the truck.

Actually, the notice is not vague; it simply says that you must take the vehicle to a designated inspection facility, undergo inspection and make the identified repairs with a pass required within 30 days.

The officer will not list what needs to be repaired, the facility will determine that.

There could be a significant difference between what the dealership calls a "safety inspection" and what the inspection facility does.

Simply checking that all the lights work, that the tires have sufficient tread and that the brakes are not worn out could be considered a safety inspection.

The designated inspection facility is required to check all items in a comprehensive set of standards (that you may find in your local library) and make sure that those standards are met.

The only way to know is to ask the dealership what was checked when you are shopping for the vehicle.

That said, the dealership is not supposed to sell you a vehicle that is not roadworthy:

    Sale of motor vehicle contrary to regulations

222: A person must not sell, offer for sale, expose or display for sale or deliver over to a purchaser for use a motor vehicle, trailer or equipment for them that is not in accordance with this Act and the regulations.

Probably the only way to escape this requirement is to specify that what is being sold is not meant for use on a highway on the bill of sale.

You may find this FAQ from the Vehicle Sales Authority of BC useful. It outlines your rights when you purchase a vehicle from a dealer and what to do if you have problems.

Of course, if you made the modifications that triggered the officer's interest after you purchased the vehicle, you are on the hook for that yourself.

If you did not, then you may have some recourse against the dealership for the cost of the inspection and the changes necessary to make the vehicle roadworthy.

The VSABC may assist you with that or you may have to conduct a small claims court action if the dealership refuses.

If you knew at the time of purchase that the vehicle was not roadworthy in all respects you may find that wilful blindness can limit your options as well.

Finally, you can take advantage of lawyer referral for properly informed advice.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/trouble-after-vehicle-purchase



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See you when you're 80

Sometimes I think that our system is designed to keep us in the driver's seat.

Even in an urban area, you need a vehicle to get around with convenience. Bend a few vehicles? Pay ICBC a (relatively) few dollars more and they take care of the big bills.

Can't or won't follow the driving rules?

Pay for a few penalty points and don't worry, you have to get a lot of tickets before they take your licence away. Had your licence taken away? Probably not for very long, even if you killed someone.

Last week's episode of Nova, Look Who's Driving Now, was about autonomous vehicles.

One of the experts interviewed expressed the opinion that driving a vehicle is probably the most demanding cognitive task that most people do on a daily basis.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to find that there are many examples in the program where drivers disengaged their brain to do things other than drive while they were behind the wheel.

Our system of driver licensing pays fairly close attention to the first three years of a driver's career.

You spend a year as a Learner, pass a test, spend two years as a Novice, pass a test and you are now a fully privileged driver.

The restrictions on speed, number of passengers, alcohol use, new driver signs and supervision are at an end.

After that, unless you prove to be incapable, you may pay a renewal fee every five years and not get looked at again until you turn 80.

I once checked a driver who had missed two renewals of his licence. He'd driven for more than 10 years with no licence at all!

The only reason I found him was because I was conducting a road check and asking all drivers to show me their driver's licence.

I've been driving for more than 40 years and can say from experience that there have been many changes to driving in B.C. since I was 16.

In all that time, no one has checked to see if I have been keeping my knowledge current.

There was one test that I had to take at my last renewal, could I still see well enough to drive without corrective lenses?

I could, but I still prefer to drive with my glasses on. I like to see where I'm going in as sharp a focus as I can.

Aside from new laws and road improvements that complicate my interactions with others, if I buy a new vehicle I will find myself sitting in the driver's seat with a host of driving assists.

Some are mandated by Transport Canada and others I might choose on my own as options.

After finishing up with my purchase, I could decide to hop in and drive my shiny new computerized vehicle away without any instruction at all about how to maintain, use or misuse all these systems.

If I keep my head down, don't bump into too many things or run afoul of traffic enforcement, I can keep driving until I turn 80 and no one will ever check to see if I should still be behind the wheel and have the requisite knowledge of the system to follow it effectively.

Even after I turn 80, the regular testing is aimed at making sure that I have the necessary cognitive ability to drive, not that I actually know how to.

Can you think of any other complex, changing system today that allows it's users to carry on without training updates and testing?

We'll see you when I turn 80.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/well-see-you-when-you-turn-80



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



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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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