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Behind-the-Wheel

Can stop kid from driving

A young person's brain is not fully matured until the age of 25. The prefrontal cortex manages executive functions such as impulse control and weighing consequences but may not do a great job of it for teenagers. If you are faced with a teen driver who is consistently making bad choices, what do you do?

This is a serious consideration as the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit says that motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and death across all ages in BC.

The stage is set by parents long before the child learns to drive. As with many things in life, our children tend to follow our example. As I discussed in Perpetuating Mediocrity, some parents are ill equipped to teach a new driver.

The Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) sets some restrictions on new drivers to limit their exposure to risk. Parents need to be supportive in ensuring that these restrictions are obeyed and by establishing reasonable expectations for driving behaviour. If these expectations are consistently not met, there need to be explicit consequences. You may even consider the use of a family contract as a pre-condition before granting permission for your child's first licence.

In the days before the GLP parents had a strong control over their children who had not reached the age of 18. If the child was not driving properly the parent could withdraw their consent and ICBC would cancel the child's drivers licence. This was an effective control over wayward young drivers.

The problem with this was that some parents used the system to impose their will on children for purposes not related to driving. This became apparent and the privilege was removed from the legislation. Once the child was licensed, the courts or the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles were the only entities that could cancel drivers licences.

If the child did not own their own vehicle, the only control that parents had was to restrict access to a vehicle. This is not as effective these days as many young people aged 16 and 17 do own their own vehicles.

There are still two tools of last resort that a parent can use to stop an irresponsible youth from driving before they harm themselves or others.

The first is a letter to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. If the Superintendent is satisfied that the youth presents a danger, he may prohibit the person from driving in the public interest. Police will enforce the prohibition.

The second is to withdraw consent for the registration and licensing of the youth's vehicle by writing to ICBC. The licence plates will be cancelled, effectively ending the ability to drive that vehicle legally. The police will also enforce driving without proper vehicle licence.

This is not a step to be take lightly by parents. If the withdrawal of consent for registration and vehicle licensing is abused, no doubt it will also be removed from the legislation as well.

This story also appeared on DriveSmartBC.



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30 km/h in residential areas?

Currently the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act sets a speed limit of 50 km/h on municipal streets when a different speed limit has not been posted by signs. 

A recent survey by Research Co. found that 58% of British Columbians would definitely or probably like to see residential speed limits of 30 km/h. This past fall the Union of B.C. Municipalities resolved to ask the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to allow municipalities to set this blanket speed limit.

Municipalities already have the power to implement 30 km/h speed zones anywhere within their boundaries through the use of signs. The amendment would save the effort and expense of installing more signs.

There are five justifications to make the change in this resolution:

The provincial government surveyed municipalities in 2015 as part of the Road Safety Strategy. Not surprisingly, the top two issues of concern reported were vehicle speeds and pedestrian safety.

What should be surprising is that the survey also found that formal municipal road safety program components are rare. Less than one third have a formal mandate to improve road safety and few have developed visions, plans or targets.

Less than half of municipalities have committees with a road safety mandate or road safety improvement programs or projects.

Of nine potential sources of road safety data suggested, most municipalities relied on public comments and complaints instead of something like a Sustainable Transportation Assessment for Neighbourhoods.

Residents usually request traffic calming changes on their streets to remedy safety issues. Municipalities such as Maple Ridge, North Cowichan and West Kelowna do have policies in place for this. They follow the Canadian Guide to Neighbourhood Traffic Calming produced by the Transportation Association of Canada. It's expensive to buy and is not available to read for free on line or in my local library so we can to refer to chapter 2 of the B.C. Community Road Safety Toolkit instead.

What do you think our provincial government's response to this request will be?

This story also appears on DriveSmartBC.



Traffic fine revenue changes

We don't hear a lot about B.C.'s Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing program except when the government is handing out grants to the municipalities. The money is supposed to be employed to "support community safety and address local policing priorities."

A requirement for participating in the revenue sharing is that the municipality must develop a plan that sets out the intended uses and performance targets for the funds received from the Province. It will report publicly on the plan and progress made toward achieving performance targets for the funds in accordance with those plans.

I did a bit of searching and found an example of one of these reports. It simply states that:

The Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Grant is assigned to the RCMP budget and is used to fund an additional officer. Without the grant, the City would have had to increase property tax rate a further 0.75% to maintain the same number of RCMP officers.

There is no evidence of a plan, targets or achievments. This is also a city with a Traffic Safety Committee whose meetings are closed to the public, will not accept public input and makes no public information on its deliberations available.

Rural governments simply receive a reduction in their policing bills instead of being able to exercise discretion the way municipalities do.

There are changes coming in 2020 based on changes that the province has made or is contemplating to modernize the traffic ticket system:

  • expanding the red light Intersection Safety Camera (ISC) to operate continuously
  • implementing speed activated ISCs
  • implementing electronic traffic ticketing
  • potentially replacing the traffic courts with an administrative justice tribunal

All of these changes are underway with the exception of the tribunal. This was still "somewhere over the horizon" the last time I inquired about it.

Recognizing that this will incur new costs, the province and the Union of BC Municipalities have co-operated on amendments to the agreement. The UBCM is expecting that the agreement will "generate additional net income for local governments."

Mention was made of meetings between UBCM representatives and the provincial government in the summer of 2019 proposing the use of traffic fine revenue for a collision reduction program at intersections and the possibility of extending restrictions on the use of the revenues.

Following that consultation, "the province is not proceeding with either of these proposals."

Instead of requiring ICBC to fund additional traffic enforcement perhaps the money should come from provincial traffic fines instead. Let's make problem drivers pay and enjoy a reduction in our ICBC premiums.

The story also appears on DriveSmartBC.ca.



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The difficulty with stop signs

One wouldn't think that stopping at a stop sign would be such a problem for drivers. It seems relatively simple, come to a complete stop, look both ways and then go if it is safe to do so. With the poor compliance rate, we should ask is the stop sign the best form of traffic control for intersections that are not controlled by traffic signals?

Let's examine what making a proper stop means and where it has to be done. You may be surprised to learn that the stop sign itself simply tells you what you must do, not where you have to do it.

The simplest case is one where there is nothing at the intersection other than the stop sign. Here one must stop before entering the intersection itself and in a position nearest to the crossroad where a driver has a clear view of traffic approaching on that crossroad.

Where there is a marked crosswalk along with the stop sign a driver must stop before entering the crosswalk. Doing so will protect against a collision if the driver has failed to notice any pedestrians present.

One failure of our current Motor Vehicle Act is not including unmarked crosswalks in this requirement. Not all unmarked crosswalks are preceeded by a marked stop line to provide some protection for pedestrians.

The stop sign with a marked stop line seems to be the most difficult. Stop lines never seem to be placed at a point where the driver has a good view to the left and right if they stop as required. Consequently, stop lines are often ignored completely. The proper thing to do here is to stop at the line, move ahead to a point where you can see properly, stop again and then proceed after looking both ways to insure it is safe to do so.

Death by Stop Sign is an article in Psychology Today authored by John Staddon. He singles out the stop sign saying:

Look at the familiar stop sign. It does two bad things: First, it makes you look at the stop sign rather than the traffic—it distracts. Second, it doesn’t tell you what you need to know. It tells you to stop even when you can see perfectly well that there is no cross traffic. It shouts “don’t trust your own judgment!”

Dr. Staddon provides Britain as an example of how it should be done. Stop signs are a rare item beside their roads he says, you will find yield signs or their equivalent road markings instead. They have a lower collision rate than North America and yielding instead of stopping saves time and reduces pollution.

He also hints that the roundabout would be preferred over both stop and yield signs. These intersections can reduce collisions by 37% and fatal collisions by 90%.

So, until roundabouts become common in British Columbia, keep in mind that more than half of all collisions happen at intersections. Following proper stop sign etiquette places you in control in a high hazard area.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/intersections/difficulty-stop-signs



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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