It's still driveable!

I saw many things over the two decades that I spent in full-time, traffic-law enforcement.

Some of those things left me shaking my head wondering why the driver ever chose to leave the driveway. If you don't value the life of other road users, surely you value your own.

During an evening shift, I was met by a car whose driver failed to dim the headlights. A glance in the mirror as I passed also revealed a lack of rear lights. After stopping the driver and examining the vehicle, I determined that the headlights only worked on high beam and none of the rear lights worked at all.

The car had been involved in a rear-end collision and the driver was waiting for ICBC to fix it. It was their only vehicle and the family was returning from a non-essential trip that involved a four-hour drive each way.

At that time of year, there were about eight hours of daylight, so the outing could not have been conducted exclusively during the daylight.

I would often meet the commercial vehicle inspector and we would work together at a brake-check location. An examination of a farm truck determined that only one its air brakes was properly adjusted. The driver was ticketed and ordered to adjust his brakes properly before proceeding.

He stomped away, but soon returned. He did not have the necessary wrench to adjust the brakes with. Would one of the truckers who had stopped to check their brakes loan one to him?

After another 10 minutes or so had passed, the driver was back again. Which way do you turn the brake adjuster was the question this time. The trucker who loaned him the wrench rolled his eyes, took him in hand and showed him how to adjust his brakes too.

Speeding on its own can be bad enough, but throw in willful blindness and the results could be tragic.

One such driver earned a tow truck ride home. When he was producing his documents to me a scan of the vehicle interior revealed that he had covered the brake warning light on his dash with black electrical tape.

The light was too bright when he drove at night he explained.

Checking the tire tread when approaching a vehicle became almost a reflex action for me. The tread wear bars that tires are equipped with these days mean that I don't even have to use a tread depth gauge when winter tires are not required.

If they are showing in two adjacent grooves, the tire is considered to be worn out.

Occasionally, I would discover a vehicle with a wheel alignment problem. The majority of the tire tread looked just fine, but one shoulder of the tire would be worn so badly that the cords were showing through the rubber. That's definitely an out of service condition.

I met a graduate from the Red Green School of Mechanics one day. His windshield wipers had stopped working, so he had tied a thin rope to the driver's wiper, passed it through both vent windows to lay on the dash and then tied the other end to the passenger's wiper. If it ever rained, he just had his passenger pull the rope to operate the wipers.

Do we even want to know what happened when it rained and he was alone?

My preferred method of dealing with drivers like these was the Notice and Order. There were three levels of action that could be chosen, depending on the severity of the defects found.

A No. 3 was the least intrusive. It simply asked that you repair the noted defects and advise the police you had done so.

The No. 2 had more teeth. The driver was required to take the vehicle to a Designated Inspection Facility promptly and pass inspection within 30 days. If the pass was not obtained within that time, the vehicle could no longer be driven or parked on a highway.

No.1 was for the vehicles that were truly dangerous. From the moment it was issued until inspection was passed, the vehicle could not be driven or parked on a highway and had to be moved by tow truck or on a trailer.

Story URL: http://www.drivesmartbc.ca/equipment/its-still-driveable.


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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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